Salesforce buying contact crowd-sourcer Jigsaw

The CRM giant will pay $142 million for Jigsaw, a company with a database of 21 million professionals that has been created by fellow businesspeople.

Salesforce.com is buying business data provider Jigsaw for $142 million, a move designed to help customers more easily build contact lists in their Salesforce databases.

The deal to acquire the San Mateo, Calif.-based company was announced Wednesday.

Salesforce offers cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) applications geared toward businesses that need to keep track of and communicate with customers, clients, and other contacts. But the process for finding, adding, and organizing contacts can be cumbersome, Salesforce noted, especially if people are manually entering that information into their databases.

Jigsaw offers a searchable online database of companies and key employees, which is the type of data that Salesforce users are seeking. But Jigsaw offers a twist--it relies on crowd-sourcing to collect the data. Using Wikipedia as an example, crowd-sourcing encourages people to add information on their own. With contributions from Jigsaw's more than 1.2 million members, the company said that its database now provides contact information on more than 21 million professionals from nearly 4 million companies.

By acquiring Jigsaw, Salesforce plans to offer its own users the ability to more easily locate, purchase, and manage contact information that they can seamlessly integrate into their Salesforce databases. Salesforce said it believes the acquisition will create opportunities for developers and software vendors to build new applications based on the business contact information found in Jigsaw.

Jigsaw will also give Salesforce a foothold into the growing $3 billion market for cloud-based data services and open up a door for Salesforce to partner with other information services companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Hoover's, and LexisNexis, Salesforce said.

"Salesforce.com is excited to bring the data services industry into the era of Cloud 2," Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement. "With Jigsaw, we'll make it as easy as Wikipedia to source data, as easy as iTunes to buy data, and as easy as Facebook to stay updated as the data changes."

Since last year, Salesforce has been touting its Cloud 2 service as the next wave in customer service by allowing people to integrate other applications with their Salesforce data. The company has also been on a social-networking kick, working on its own Salesforce Chatter app due sometime this year and adding Twitter to its cloud services in December.

In addition to paying $142 million in cash, Salesforce will kick in up to another 10 percent of the purchase price based on Jigsaw's performance. The deal is expected to close in Salesforce's fiscal second quarter, which ends in July.

 

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