Is Jigsaw Data following privacy standards?

September 8, 2006 at 10:22 am 1 comment

In the company’s own words:

Jigsaw is an online business contact marketplace where marketers, recruiters, and sales professionals can get fresh and accurate business contact information. Members of Jigsaw provide a few pieces to the collaborative puzzle (business contacts), and then Jigsaw assembles them for the benefit of the community. Jigsaw’s mission is to map every business organization on the planet, contact by contact and keep them current through a collaborative effort.

Now for Reality?

Even though the company description of Jigsaw sounds nice and rewarding, other people have dramatically different opinions about what Jigsaw is doing.

Dan Fost, of, reports that, Fowler [Jim Fowler is CEO of San Mateo’s Jigsaw Data Corp.] is riffing on the reputation he’s gaining online as a man willing to knock down established social mores, while showing what critics say is an utter disregard for people’s privacy. The furor is over Jigsaw’s system of encouraging people to enter business contacts into an easily accessible Web database. Sign up at the site,, and you can get points for entering the contents of your Rolodex. You can even sell those points for money.

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.”

Michael Arrington, who writes the TechCrunch blog, fingered Jigsaw as “evil,” calling it a “really, really bad idea.” Rafe Needleman, who writes for the influential tech publication Release 1.0, said that it was “clever but creepy” and that it breaks the social contract.

The CEO of San Mateo’s Jigsaw Data Corp. Jim Fowler said, “I actually put a lot of moral thought into this. I knew Jigsaw was going to be controversial.”

Instead of just “thinking” about it, should Mr. Fowler have asked others about it before launching such a service?


Entry filed under: ben edelman, blog, blogger, blogging, blogs, business, business network, internet, jigsaw, jim fowler, LinkedIn,, media, online, online business, online community, online privacy, Orkut, pirvacy, privacy, release 1.0, security,, social networking, social-bookmarking, TechCrunch, Technology, web, web 2.0.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Spokaneman  |  November 13, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Having worked at Jigsaw for a period of time, I can tell you this issue was brought up by a number of customers and potential customers.

    One potential client said “it is a great idea, but you are going to get sued like crazy” when I tried to sell him the membership. Jigsaw is positive that they don’t have anything to worry about. Legally, they may be in the clear but ethically, that is a whole new ball of wax.

    Fowler is a very charismatic guy and he sells this idea all the way to the bank. He says that all this information is public, since it is what would be on a business card, therfore he is not crossing privacy lines. Also, since no cell phone numbers or home numbers are allowed, the executive’s privacy is not being compromised.

    I just remember having a lot of clients questioning the ethics of this model and I lost sales because of the uncomfortable nature of what I was selling. It was always a touchy subject with clients and Jigsaw management always got defensive when the issue was brought up by Account Executives.

    I think when Fowler started he ignored the naysayers and only focused on the positive reactions. He had me sold on it.


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