By Sharla Sikes
Jigsaw, a data provider, just announced it would be offering free company contact data.
Call the Open Data Initiative, Jigsawâ€™s free data is
The information in Jigsawâ€™s online database comes from member contributions, unlike
other contact-list companies. The Open Data Initiative service is downloadable and searchable by geographic location, industry, sub-industry and the number of employees.
“You can go to a lot of places and get company data. The big difference is, go try to download data from anywhere,” said Jim Fowler, Jigsaw’s CEO. “From here you can download 50,000 records at one time, and it’s free.”
It isnâ€™t a perfect data solution, of courseâ€”not at that price. Jigsaw plans to give away the company-level contact data, but its collection of some 8 million individual contact records will only be available for a price.
“Some people will try to clean it themselves,” Fowler said. “We’re going to try and price [the services] reasonably.”
Doesnâ€™t make much sense? Fowler admits that the sales industry isnâ€™t made up of â€œaltruists,â€ but Jigsawâ€™s marketing and business plan has gained it increased growth since a 2004 launch.
“What we had to do is have a system that rewarded and punished. You need points in order to get the data off that you covet,” he said.
Users earn those points by uploading data, cleaning out bad data, or Â buying it. Based on Web 2.0 principles, the siteâ€™s 400,000 members work to ensure the accuracy of the data by â€œself policingâ€ if bad information is entered.
“You can do a very little bit of damage to the database, but very quickly our community stops you,” he said.
Jigsaw plans to make application programming interfaces available for software developers, and also aims to break into the global market.
“The main thing for us is
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we want to make this global,” Fowler said. “A global, gigantic
Maximizer Software, a CRM vendor, supports Jigsawâ€™s move and plans to use the free data in its own contact database.
Web 2.0 concepts such as social networking sites, wikis and blogs increasingly drive data gathering opportunities.Â Jigsawâ€™s open-source concept may be only the first of many similar services to come.