Profile of Jigsaw for our Social Software Guide

We are adding this profile of Jigsaw to our Social Networking Site Guide. We have written on Jigsaw previously; you can see our past blog posts here.

Ross Mayfield, Silicon Valley Sleuth, and Matt Marshall have all previously written on Jigsaw. See InnerSell for a comparable model.

It’s worth noting that this business model makes a lot of people very, very annoyed. But that doesnÂ’t mean that it can’t be highly popular and profitable.

Jigsaw Data Corporation

February 2, 2005



Jigsaw is an online marketplace where people buy, sell and trade business contact information. Jigsaw offers members access to an online database of (they claim) fresh and accurate corporate contact information that increases efficiency by shortening the time required to find valuable business contacts. The data contributions and collaborative oversight continuously made by their users help to increase the accuracy and increase the growth of the Jigsaw marketplace.


Jigsaw’s client base consists primarily of sales people and recruiters who are interested in reducing the amount of time it takes to find contacts and speed up the about of time it takes to find direct contacts.

The Jigsaw marketplace has approximately 320,000 business contacts within 33,000 companies (as of January 2005) and is growing at an average rate of 2,500 complete new contacts per day. Jigsaw has thousands of users who buy, sell and trade business contacts, some of whom add up to 5,000 business contacts per month.


Officially opened on December 6, 2004.


1. Jim Fowler, CEO and Co-founder

Jim co-founded Jigsaw after working in the sales industry for 15 years. Jim served as vice president of sales at Digital Impact (DIGI), Paramark and TightLink. He also held sales management positions at Personify and NetGravity. Prior to his career in software sales, Jim was owner and operator of Lookout Pass, a ski resort in Idaho, and served in the US Navy as a Diving and Salvage Officer.

2. Garth Moulton, Co-founder

Prior to co-founding Jigsaw, Garth worked in technology sales at several technology companies including Digital Impact (DIGI), Sawyer Media, Personify, Open Environment Corporation and Cambridge Information Network (CIN).

Corporate Overview:

Jigsaw is based in San Mateo, CA. They launched with $5.2 million in venture capital funding from El Dorado Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners.


Monthly membership costs $25, but is free to those who add 25 or more contacts per month (“Pay or Play” Option).

Contacts are obtained with points. Points are obtained by adding contacts, correcting contacts, referring other members, or by purchase. Every contact in Jigsaw costs 5 points (or $1).

Adding a contact earns ten points – provided other members don’t challenge the entry. Challenged contacts result in a ten point penalty. Members get a double refund when they get a bad contact. Members can buy points (and soon will be able to sell them). Those who want to obtain their points with money instead of by adding contacts can purchase points for 20 cents each ($1 per contact). Proceeds go to members who have excess points and choose to sell them. Referrals drive Jigsaw’s growth; members get 125 points for each referral (or 25 contacts).


We have written on Jigsaw previously; you can see our past blog posts here. Quoting Peter Caputa, it’s "like an LDAP directory managed by a distributed network".

We give Jigsaw a lot of credit for a creative business model which outsources almost all of the labor involved to its customers. We particularly like how the point system is designed to tap into the competitive nature of sales people. They amass points in proportion to their contributions to the marketplace, and use their points to acquire more contacts or to sell them to other Jigsaw members.

Jigsaw obviously raises significant privacy concerns, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that members enter data anonymously. In order to help alleviate those concerns, every contact listing has the person’s direct phone number and business email, but no personal cell phone numbers or email addresses are allowed. People may enter themselves into the database, allowing Jigsaw to potentially compete with firms such as Ziggs. Anyone in the database can set personal preferences that outline how, for what or if they wish to be contacted.

Another concern is data quality. However, on further reflection, creating fake data, which is not readily identifiable as faked, would require significant work—and it may be simpler just to pay the $25/month.


We definitely suggest trialing the Jigsaw service.


Nitron Advisors and Teten Recruiting are both Jigsaw customers.