Jigsaw Data

Interesting article in the SF Chronicle about Jigsaw Data, a company with an unusual social network for buying and selling business contacts:

Here’s how Jigsaw works: You can pay a subscription of $25 per month to access the database or you can enter 25 contacts per month. Members get two contacts back for each one they enter. All information is entered anonymously.

It seems like they are expecting strong growth:

Since it started operations on Jan. 1, 2004, Jigsaw has amassed a database of 3 million contacts at 150,000 companies, and the company expects that to grow to 5 million by year’s end. Only 131 of its 105,000 members sell points, Fowler said. “Almost all trade data to get data.”

It just seems like the wrong way to build a social network. Getting your contact added to Jigsaw feels like a breach of trust…A typical way your contact can get into Jigsaw is – you send a communication to a professional contact, who in turn, sells your information to Jigsaw (similar to somebody selling your information to a spammer). Sure you can opt out if you like, but I would rather have an explicit opt-in mechanism.

Anyone, even nonmembers, can go to the site to see if they’re listed. If they are, they can set parameters for how they wish to be contacted. A person could even say: “Never contact me.” Fowler’s own guidelines tell people never to call his mobile phone, keep e-mails short and not pitch wealth management or other financial services.

I guess the basic assumption that Jigsaw is making is that all professionals, just because they are employed, are going to want to be contacted by other professionals. I personally can see the value of sharing my contact information with people in the same field. But I can imagine other people who will object. Also who is going to make sure that information is not misused? What is there to prevent Jigsaw from becoming a super data base for spammers?

There is also a valid question about the quality of the data, raised by Bob Blakley in his post on the subject along with his new business card (:-)):

BTW, check out if you are in Jigsaw here.

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3 thoughts on “Jigsaw Data

  1. Unless we are willing to legislate against this type of system, lists of contact information will continue to grow and improve in accuracy.

    Personaly, in determining whether or not I would favor legislation on it I have to ask myself:
    If my information is available on such list(s), how will it affect me. And the answer to that is, in my case: very little.

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