Thursday, February 5, 2015

Open letter to CB Insights CEO about leadership and term of service

Dear Anand:

I tried to leave you a comment on the following blog but apparently it didn’t pass moderation so I am going to leave it on my blog and tweet it so you are aware of it.

Sorry to hear about DataViz. This is annoying to say the least. This said I now understand why I was not able to download the 46 page corporate VC whitepaper goodie you offered me via one of your marketing email. It is probably because Spoke is considered a competitor. Truth is I didn't know and I didn't despite 10s of marketing emails you sent me. If you truly care about this terms of service, you should explain as well why you have touched me at least 100 times through marketing materials and offers to download free reports and never let me know that I was in breach of your terms of service. If you want to be one of the leaders of our industry, I strongly advised to be consistent in your message across the board and use marketing techniques that you can swallow otherwise you are going to frustrate a lot of people like the ones who were on this wall.

If I am appalled by what Dataviz did, I seriously advice you remove this paragraph about competitors from your terms of service because it is a serious impediment to the productivity of our industry as well as unenforceable.
1) You basically are asking your competition to ask their employees to read the terms of service of all the sites they visit. You know as well as i do that this is not enforceable and completely counterproductive; 
2) You are also asking your competition to limit their choice of consultants and limit the consultant ability to perform their work; 
3) Lastly, if you are serious about asking your competitors to enforce this clause, I am surprised that you show screenshots of Dataviz in your blog. By doing so, you are using information obtained by a source that would clearly breach your term of service. 
If you want to be one of the leaders of our industry, you need to accept that you are going to be copied because this is what people do to improve. You should blame people like Dataviz if you feel they broke a line. But this term of service is like the Berlin Wall, it has to be brought down for the sake of your company and the industry before people tear it down for you.

Lastly, if you want to frame a culture and lead the industry this way, make sure you let people write comments on your blog posts. After all, we live in the 21st century in the open internet and this wall you have created for yourself seems very very old school to me.
Philippe Cases, CEO Spoke Software

PS: in the spirit of full disclosure, I received this blog tracking your company through Owler. You can see how bad I am.

Friday, January 16, 2015

VB Profiles and the Spokeintel Network recognized by ChiefMartec

Difficult to start the year better for the Spokeintel Network: VB Profiles, one of its feature sites, was selected by Scott Brinker in the "Vendor/Data Analysis" section of its new 2015 ChiefMartec Landscape released on January 7, 2015.  In this section, VB Profiles is the only profile database alongside but ahead :) of Crunchbase and is featured with established brand names such as Gartner, Forrester...

For those who have followed us in 2014, you know that you can access the 2014 Chief Martec Landscape for news, funding and people information. You can even receive a daily update email by subscribing to this landscape. You can also access the 43 lists that compose the ChiefMartec Landscape by clicking here and get the same benefit for a much more narrower list.

Witnessing the level of requests, we know you are very anxious to see the 2015 ChiefMartec Landscape on VB Profiles. We are in the process of working on it and we should release it before the end of February.

Oh and one last thing, the average time our members spend on our sites per visit has been above 15 minutes for two weeks in a row from 8 minutes back in October 2014. Love it...

Philippe Cases

Monday, December 1, 2014

Introducing Similar Companies

I hope you had a great Thankgiving.

The team at Spoke Network is very excited to release Similar Companies,  a feature you will find on company profiles.

With this feature, you can now very quickly and easily identify which companies are competing with each other. They are the first ones on the Similar Company list and as you are moving down, you can also surface companies that are competing on part of somebody’s offering or similar companies that are part of the same ecosystem. 

Taking Cloudera as an example, you can identify the first two direct competitors as Hortonworks and MapR who appears on 10 lists together (hold your thoughts we will come back to that) and then Qubole, which provides a managed solution for Hadoop and then companies such as DataStax, Pivotal and IBM BigInsights who are providing analytics to the enterprise. As you are clicking on more, more companies are appearing which are less similar but still relevant.

Coming back to the question that is now burning your tongue: how are you ranking the companies? This comes straight from our scalable Semantic Web Platform. As our team and partners are creating lists where they assemble relevant companies together, we basically count how many lists a specific pair of companies are together and use the number of lists as our ranking mechanism. If two companies appear the exact same amount of time together with another company then we are using the number of employees and then amount of funding to finish the ranking.

Few points to note:
  1. Our classification is stronger where we have coverage. At this point, we feel very really strongly about our classification for Big Data, Marketing Technology and Mobile.
  2. Our classification favors the bigger companies. They are covered more by analysts and therefore appear in more lists together so they should appear first in any classification. That said, we have been surprised that the true competitors seem to be appearing on a consistent basis first despite their size.
  3. Clicking more to see the entire list makes sense: As the bigger companies appear first, the eventual disruptors of a particular company will appear later down the list.
  4. Clicking on the similar company is very important in your analysis as it could give you hints of particular clusters of companies. In our Cloudera case, if you click on DataStax, you will see surfacing companies like MongoDB, Couchbase and Marklogic before Hortonworks and MapR Technologies.
  5. The more you go down the list, the more a notion of ecosystem appear. Companies become more similar or are playing in the same space rather than being direct competitors…

We consider this approach as a first draft so we are relying on you to give us feedback. Easiest is to do it directly on the site using  Based on those feedbacks, we will make adjustments.

One final note: talking to experts in the industry about our approach, we realize that the notion of similarity is very vague and that we are tackling only one notion of similarity at this point: are two companies competing or part of the same ecosystem? But there are many others and a list of other similarities could include: same founding groups, same past company employees, same location, and same investors among others. 

We will wish all of you happy holidays.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome market summaries and

We have been pretty quiet since we announced our partnership with MedCityNews but we have not seat idle in the meantime and have been working on solving tough problems.

The first problem we worked on is one that I have been faced with during my career as a Venture Capitalist and it goes something like this:  You are doing a due diligence and one of your partners asks you a question like this: who are the players in this Space? How much has been invested? Do we know anybody that we can talk to about this investment? Sounds familiar, you may have faced variants of this problem if you are a headhunter sourcing candidates, a business developer trying to make sense of a market, a consultant trying to categorize a market or simply an entrepreneur looking for information about who the investors, the journalists, the consultants, he should be talking are.

At this point, you have two options: one is to call the company and ask for the information, the other more common is to do it yourself because you want to make sure that the work has been done thoroughly. So you crawl the web and after an hour, you find a landscape of companies organized in categories and lists. It is usually a 2D graphic filled with logos. Once you have seen this list, you have to understand who the companies are and then for each companies figure out  the information you are looking for and then aggregate it to make sense of it. If you are lucky or not controlling, you will find an analyst or an associate to do it for you. But either you or him will take forever to do it. And, at some point, there will be a point where you will regret to have found this landscape.

This doesn’t have to be this way and we think we have found a solution that bridges the gap between the landscape graphic and the information you are looking for. As John Koetsier puts it, landscape on VBProfiles becomes alive. This has been possible because of two major milestones:

1)    Introduction of the Market Summary: for each markets or public lists you are tracking, you have now access to the summary of that public list. We let you know:
a.    how the specific lists you are tracking are related to other public lists in our portfolio;
b.    who the companies are and how they stack against one another;
c.    how much funds has been raised in that specific market or public lists;
d.    who the players are: executives, investors, journalists, consultants,…
This is free for now and for at least a couple of month so you should try it.
2)    Partnership with We have done one partnership with who published the famous Marketing Technology Landscape. edits every year a marketing technology landscape of 1,000 companies organized in 43 different categories of product. We have ported this landscape on our platform so that everybody can start tracking the lists, categories as well as the entire landscape.

The combination of those two announcements is now extremely powerful for the Marketing Technology Industry. You can now have access to all data about this landscape, follow specific categories, know who funds what, who is covering those spaces as journalists and consultants. And with one click, you get now information that it would have taken days to get.

We hope you’ll enjoy those new features.

Philippe Cases

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Guidelines for content on the Spoke guidelines

I am writing just to inform you that we have been obliged to remove 4,600 companies from the SpokeIntel/ VBProfiles/Capsules database. I would like to explaim why we do this as well as give some guidelines for profiles we are going to accept moving forward on the Spoke Network.

About a month ago, Google put our network in a penalty box to the point that we were not seeing any traffic coming from the search engine. This forced us to review our policies and ask the very hard questions including which content needed to be on our current network of sites. We decided to move on a certain number of fronts, the main decision being to focus on local directory listings and the Spoke network on competitive intelligence.

What does that mean for the content on Spoke Intelligence Network? A profile will need to be:
1)    At least 65% complete;
2)    Updated on a regular basis at least every 6 months;
3)    In an Industry that we are currently tracking: Technology and Healthcare Technologies (including Bio Tech).
We will be very proactive in letting you know if your profile doesn’t match the criteria to remain on the Spoke Network or if the profile has not been updated.

If you are not in Technology and Healthcare related field, we suggest you register your company on There the criteria are not going to be as stringent but it is important to keep the profiles updated.

For the people who had created a profile on the Spoke Network (VBProfiles, SpokeIntel, MedCity Capsules) that were removed, I would like to express my sincere apologies for having been obliged to do this. You should let us know if you want us to port your data on and we will do it for you.

Philippe Cases