Ten Questions with 'Dr. Evil'

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by: Guy Kawasaki

Jim Fowler is the CEO of Jigsaw. This company ignited a controversy because it enables users to exchange information about each other’s contacts.

The fear is that a hapless, privacy-seeking middle manager gets inundated with sales pitches for Nigerian banking schemes, organic vegetables, outsourcing services, spam filters, and get-rich-quick seminars because she handed out her business card at an industry conference.

  1. Question: How did you get the nickname “Dr. Evil”?

    Answer: The moniker came about because Jigsaw has been called “evil,” “privacy destroying,” and “breaking a social contract” by Michael Arrington of Techcrunch (linked to the article) and Rafe Needleman of CNET (linked to the article). Both feel Jigsaw “hurts” people. I disagree and believe having this information transparent does far more good than harm. To add some levity, I signed my reply to Arrington’s original post as “Dr. Evil,” in reference to the “Jigsaw is evil” claim. The name seems to have stuck—perhaps because of my clean shaven head.

  2. Question: My contact information is in Jigsaw (I would be offended if I was not!). How did it get in there?

    Answer: You were added by a member of Jigsaw, as are all of the 3.7 million contacts in the database. Your contact info is easy to get in that you are a very public figure, and your contact info is available on your website. The most valuable contacts in Jigsaw are at the manager and director levels—not the highest, most public levels. These are contacts who champion deals, and the ones headhunters want to find too.

  3. Question: Is there a way for someone to remove himself?  

    Answer: Jigsaw deals only in information that is found on a business card—minus mobile numbers which are not allowed. This information is not protected by copyright or trade secret laws and generally exists in many places such as event programs, signature files, and business cards. Once converted into digital format this information gets replicated quickly and spreads, jumping from database to database. Eventually this information makes its way on to the databases of companies who sell this information to marketers, sales people and recruiters.

    Most people are completely unaware of how many databases they are on. Unlike other data companies, Jigsaw is transparent. Anyone can come to Jigsaw’s home page and find out in two seconds if they are on the database. Just try this with Dunn & Bradstreet, InfoUSA, etc. Like other data companies, Jigsaw allows anyone to request removal and will remove their information under the following conditions:

    • The information is proven to have been added in violation of the law

    • The information is proven to have been added in violation of a non disclosure or employment agreement

    Like other data companies Jigsaw prohibits use of the database for any illegal activity. This policy is clearly outlined in the Jigsaw Terms of Use. Plus, there’s always the golden rule of sales: “Do unto other sales people what you will have done unto your own.”

  4. Question: Why hasn’t the mainstream press beaten up Jigsaw on the privacy issue?

    Answer: My definition of a data company is an entity that sells information about people or companies for profit. Most people don’t realize that media companies sell data about their customers—what do you think they do with your subscription information when you sign up for a magazine or newspaper?! I don’t think editors from mainstream media publications want to open themselves up to these types of questions by calling out Jigsaw.

  5. Question: What’s the key selling proposition of Jigsaw?  

    Answer: Most people do not enjoy being contacted by sales people or marketers. Yet, most people work for companies who employ sales people who must contact people in order to make sales. Sales has been described as “the art of calling people you don't know and asking them for money.” Without company and contact information the process of marketing and selling, as we know it today, would grind to a halt. Establishing a line of communication is a prerequisite to forming a business relationship—that is, making a sale.

    Jigsaw is a community of sales people who build and maintain a database of company and contact information. Our members own the database just as much as we do. Members contribute data to get data and get spanked for contributing bad data. Specifically, points are used as system credit. If you add a contact that doesn’t get challenged by the community you get credit for two new contacts. If you add a contact that gets challenged you lose points equal to two contacts. The 2-for-1 rule works both ways. In this manner the system is self-correcting and is at the heart of what makes Jigsaw different.


  6. Question: Who uses Jigsaw?

    Answer: Jigsaw has a global membership of over 100K members. Our biggest market is sales people—particularly technology sales professionals. We also get strong participation from recruiter, financial advisors, and direct marketers. Surprisingly, one of our fastest growing markets is small business owners who use Jigsaw to call on big companies. For example, we had a guy write us looking for contacts at manufacturers of cardboard egg trays, and we could take care of him.

    I can’t think of a Fortune 500 company that doesn’t have at least a few people using Jigsaw. However, I think we help the SMB market the most as they can’t afford to buy data from the dinosaurs, but can afford Jigsaw or are willing to trade contacts for more contacts.

  7. Question: Why would sales people make their valuable contacts accessible to their competitors?

    Answer: They don’t—at least not at first. The beauty of Jigsaw is that you can add one contact that has zero value to you and get two contacts that have extreme value in return. The funny thing is that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Experienced members come to believe that their best contacts will get added anyway and choose to get the points. Self-organization rules!

    Many critics don’t understand how the process of selling actually works. Sales people spend a huge amount of their time just looking for the right people to contact. Surveys of our 100K+ members show that the average time spent doing this is 33%! Sales people must call and crawl all over a target organization and waste the time of many “innocent bystanders” who are not the right people. This process sucks for everyone involved.

    Making contact information transparent creates much efficiency on both sides of the buy/sell equation. Sales people can get directly to the right people to determine if there is interest, and “innocent bystanders” will no longer get awkward calls from sales people trying to get to the right person. Receptionists, by the way, are rarely helpful. It seems like their job is to make life miserable for sales people and recruiters by keeping them out of their organization.

  8. Question: Besides Jigsaw, what other tools are useful for online sales prospecting?


    • Hoovers Well organized and accurate company information. Great interface and easy to use.

    • LinkedIn Tons of profiles, many with great biographical information. Helpful for understanding relationships.

    • Google I’m amazed at how rarely sales people Google a prospect prior to calling or emailing them. Google often can provide some tidbit with which to break the ice.

    • Alexa The Alexa toolbar and website are awesome for finding other companies similar to those you’ve already profiled as great prospects.

  9. Question: You are not a classic technology founder. Does your sales background hurt or help in your capacity as CEO?

    Answer: My experience is that start-ups usually die not because of their technology, but because they don’t reach their market. We have invested far more heavily in sales and marketing, and far less heavily in engineering, than the average start-up. I think this was a good plan because we are now able to grow our engineering team with revenue, not equity. Early on I had to put enormous pressure on my engineers to get out a product before they were comfortable. Luckily, they did a great job.

    The down side to being a “sales CEO” is that everything looks easy. As all good technologists know, if something were as easy as it looks everyone would be doing it. This lesson has taken some time to sink in!

  10. Question: Your mission statement is to “Map every business organization on the planet.” If you can do it, what impact will this have on the future?

    Answer: I predict that the biggest social impact that Jigsaw will have is to affect a major transfer of power from the employer to the employee. Jigsaw exposes people’s contact information not only to sales people but also to headhunters and competitors. Jigsaw will help employees realize all their options for employment, not just the scant few that get presented to them today.

    Every recruiter with a position to fill will quickly and easily be able to get to these crown jewels. This will be scary for CEOs as it will force them to treat their employees better in order to retain them and pay them top dollar. Every Jigsaw employee is listed on Jigsaw. I think about this issue every day!  

The inevitable question is, “Guy, what do you think of Jigsaw?” Here’s my answer: “This is a heinous invasion of privacy, but if I find out that any of Garage’s portfolio companies aren’t using it, I will expect a good explanation.” 🙂

Original Post: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/08/ten_questions_w_1.html