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4/22/2010
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Salesforce.com To Acquire Data Provider Jigsaw

CRM partner uses crowd sourcing to deliver accurate, up-to-date business contact information.

For more on business intelligence, see Intelligent Enterprise.

Salesforce.com announced yesterday plans to acquire Jigsaw, a partner that has already integrated its business-contact-data service with the cloud application provider's CRM system. The $142 million cash purchase, which is expected to close by the end of this quarter, will bring Salesforce into the $3 billion online data services market.

Jigsaw relies on Wikipedia-style crowd sourcing to compile, correct and update business-card-level contact information. The company's database has 21 million contacts. Individuals can use the service for free by contributing information. Jigsaw says public users are adding 36,000 records and augmenting or updating 12,000 records per day.

"Even if you buy company and contact information, it goes out of data very quickly," said Kraig Swensrud, Salesforce.com's senior vice president of product marketing, in an interview with Informationweek. "Jigsaw solves the problem of keeping CRM information up to date by tapping into the 1.2 million people its community."

Jigsaw's service is available through the Salesforce AppExchange. The company is also partnered with CRM system providers SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and NetSuite. Individual subscriptions start at $25 per month for 25 records. Enterprise-level subscriptions grant broader access to entire sales teams. Roughly 70% of Jigsaw's 800 corporate customers are said to use Salesforce.com. Nonetheless, Salesforce said it will continue to run Jigsaw as an independent business, supporting open-API integrations with third-party CRM systems.

"Of course Jigsaw will work best with Salesforce.com, but the service will continue to be open to any company that has any CRM application," Swensrud said.

Users of both Salesforce.com and Jigsaw can currently add or update one record at a time using a sync option exposed in the sales force automation application. Deeper integration after the merger might bring automated and batch-level data cleansing, and Swensrud said there will also be integrations between Jigsaw and the Salesforce Chatter collaboration service set to debut this summer.

"When any data changes in Jigsaw, the sales rep or other owner of a particular record could be alerted right in their Chatter feed that one of their contacts has changed companies, changed titles or changed locations," Swensrud explained.

Jigsaw augments, rather than competes with, data providers such as D&B, Hoovers and InfoUSA, according to Swensrud, so Salesforce expects to partner with firms that specialize in company-level data beyond business contact information.

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