GO WITH THE FLOW?
"Well, just as soon as one company stopped being evil, another one has stepped in to take its place. Jigsaw is a marketplace for contact information, and it is very efficient. (Author's note: The other company Michael is referring to is Plaxo, which is the grand-daddy of contact info companies, but works very differently).
It boasts detailed personal contact information for 2.5 million people, and 7,000 new people are added every day. If you want the name, title, email address, direct phone line and/or address of any executive of any company, there is a very good chance Jigsaw will already have it in its database and will sell it to you."
Where Michael gets upset is here:
"Unlike competitors like Hoovers and InfoUSA, which gather company information by semi-legitimate means such as scouring SEC filings, cold calling companies and asking for information, and reviewing other public documents, Jigsaw simply pays people to upload other people’s contact information. Users are paid $1 for every contact they upload, and some users have uploaded information on tens of thousands of people. See the demo (and note the other demos on that page as well). Jigsaw is also self correcting, and incentivizes people to also correct bad contact information.
That’s right, the next time you hand out a business card to someone or otherwise divulge your contact information, you may be handing it out to the entire world."
While at first glance I start to get riled up against Jigsaw reading Michael's post, I tend to calm down upon further reflection. Why?
Well, as Michael himself explains above, there is a whole industry focused on garnering business contact information through a wide range of means and selling it both electronically and in printed directories. In fact, they've been doing this for decades. And charging an arm and a leg.
It's the bane of salespeoples' existence in many an industry.
What Jigsaw seems to do is accelerate the process of collecting and updating the information, and making it a lot less expensive if not free. In that context, Jigsaw is collapsing yet another off-line business model much in the way Craig's list has collapsed the paid-classifieds business.
It's taking Plaxo and Linkedin to the next level (and yes I know, Linkedin the "least evil" here in how they operate).
At least Jigsaw doesn't focus on home addresses and contact info, yet. And if and when they do, they'll be accelerating yet another off-line industry that has been buying and selling home addresses and contact info on hundreds of millions of consumers for decades.
In fact, taking a step back, it just seems that companies like Jigsaw are simply bringing the "efficiency" of the internet (both good and bad), to the direct marketing industry.
As Scott McNealy pithily said a while ago about the loss of privacy in the internet era, "Just get used to it". You may think I'm being fatalistic, but I choose to look at the glass half full here.