I think I would have preferred to call this one 1/100000000000th of a good idea…but it was less catchy.
Today Salesforce.com announced it will acquire business contacts data service Jigsaw for $142m. The move leaves Salesforce.com with the ability to pre-load CRM accounts with data – OR – which is more likely, charge a premium for that type of data service. Whether it is pre-loaded leads, or data quality, Salesforce.com adds a nice service, with a ton of great data in its service base, to its arsenal.
Why such muted applause? Well, on the one hand I agree totally in terms of what Salesforce is doing here. End users could LOVE the idea of not having to add a lot of data – simply having it pre-loaded on their accounts could be huge. The ability for marketing to have lads and other targets in the system without a lot of demand gen work could be a great asset as well. Biz Dev types will love this – and this adds stickiness to the Salesforce app. Good thinking by Benioff and Co.
But, this deal reeks of old style, proprietary computing and business. Why buy one data service, when if your product is open enough (as Salesforce always claims it is) you can consume any data service? I guess the answer here is – Salesforce has the size and influence to make people think that paying for Jigsaw services is worth whatever they decide to charge, versus simply doing a little tweaking to consume Hoover’s data right in your CRM, for example.
But, I guess that is why Salesforce is so impressive. Only Salesforce can take a proprietary road in the midst of an open, social revolution, and probably do a good job of making this seem innovative and user-focused – not a money grabbing plan. It’s an amazing feat. I mean, Salesforce took simple RSS tools and turned it into Chatter and claimed to change the CRM world…and chatter isn’t even cross platform nor can it be used to leverage customer conversations.
I am always of the notion that “more is better,” especially when it comes to social media, data feeds, etc. I won’t make assumptions as to how Salesforce.com will play out its total social and data services strategy – but $100+m acquisitions are not the best way to aggregate content in my mind.
All in all, the Jigsaw deal will probably be a net positive for Salesforce.com. After all, they do a great job of marketing to business users – those people who are either too time constrained or inexperienced to set up their own data feeds into a CRM. So, instead of doing it for free, the nominal fee just might be worth it to them, and it just might not. We’ll see.
If I had more time and moxie, I’d write about how this potentially screws long time Salesforce.com partners like InsideView (even though what they do is vastly different in terms of value and scale from Jigsaw) – but perhaps I’ll save that for another post…