Salesforce.com Acquires Business Contacts Directory Startup Jigsaw
Jim Fowler, the CEO of a business directory company called Jigsaw (a.k.a. the Wikipedia of business cards), has often said that he "wants to do for data what Salesforce did for software." Our congratulations to Fowler then, as his company was officially purchased by Salesforce.com (news, site) for US$ 142 million. 

Jigsaw

Jigsaw uses Wikipedia-like crowd sourcing to collect, refine and update the contact information of professionals. The directory currently consists of more than 21 million contacts, with somewhere around 25,000 new entries added and edited each day.

Each Jigsaw business contact is complete with a phone number (over 70% of which are reportedly direct dial), position, company, mailing address, and business e-mail address:

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Jigsaw Contact Sample

Jigsaw and Salesforce

This pair already has a working history--aside from Fowler's well-known admiration--via an app called Jigsaw Prospector offered through the Salesforce.com AppExchange marketplace. Salesforce.com customers can utilize the app to access content names from Jigsaw from within the Salesforce CRM platform

So, why spend all that cash on Jigsaw when you've already got so many of the perks? To get at Jigsaw's underlying technology, of course. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff hinted at what that means in the official annoucement of the acquisition:

“Salesforce.com is excited to bring the data services industry into the era of Cloud 2. 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.”

Imagine Salesforce.com's suite of CRM applications and enterprise cloud platform mixing with Jigsaw’s ability to automatically acquire and keep up-to-date business contact data. And surely an online phone book of business contacts would attract more customers to Salesforce, right?

More Fish in the Sea

Interestingly, Salesforce also offers services from competitors LinkedIn Corp and Zoominfo, both of which claim a larger database than Jigsaw (60 million and 45 million, respectively).  Neither company, however, has commented on whether or not they plan on deeper integration with the Salesforce CRM platform. 

In any event, Salesforce.com is doing well. The company's last quarterly report revealed a 22% year-on-year revenue increase, and the recent announcement of Chatter updates and Cloud 2 seems to've caught plenty of attention.