Salesforce to Acquire Jigsaw’s ‘Contact Gold’

Apr 21, 2010

The computing company is working on a $142 million deal to acquire Jigsaw, the online business directory that has been praised as a marketplace for contact information but reviled for its controversial privacy practices.

Thousands of independent recruiters use Jigsaw every month. In its own words, Jigsaw touts that its services can provide “company phone, direct dial phone, work address, and B2B email for candidates,” which also “allows you to download this gold into lists, CRM, or other systems — you OWN the data with Jigsaw!”

(Cue the 70’s-era disco ball and streaming confetti…“Gold, man. You OWN it.”)

Indeed, writers for The Fordyce Letter have endorsed Jigsaw as a way to increase your online brand and implement new emerging media trends into your trusted candidate sourcing techniques.

Yet the prickly privacy angle has been a sore spot over the years because Jigsaw would reportedly pay people who uploaded other people’s contact information.

In fact, this issue was a source of contention during a moderated debate at ERE Expo back in 2008.

During the session, Jim Fowler, Jigsaw’s founder and CEO, said “there is a relatively small percentage of people who are concerned. Perhaps 2% or 3% of the world who really care about their business cards. Privacy is a huge issue, but my point is that most people don’t care about this particular piece of data.”

Yet TechCrunch now reports that Jigsaw has changed its model, and people can “see if their personal information has been uploaded, and there is a process to have it removed, at least temporarily. And users are no longer paid cash to upload contacts. Instead they receive points that can be used to download contact other people’s contact information.”

In a press release, Salesforce said “Jigsaw’s unique Wikipedia-style crowd-sourcing model delivers the world’s most complete, accurate, and up-to-date business contact data, providing developers with an opportunity to deliver entirely new applications that leverage the business contact data found in Jigsaw.”

In other words, for Salesforce, this acquisition may create more opportunities to partner with information services companies (i.e., Dun&Bradstreet, Hoover’s, and LexisNexis).