Inex One helps investors work efficiently with expert networks. We are passionate about the expert network industry and the wider knowledge economy. Inex One estimated the 2019 expert network industry market size in collaboration with Integrity Research. The analysis is based on public financial reports, expert interviews and benchmarks of available data and builds further on our 2016 expert network market sizing.
Our latest bottom-up sizing puts the total market at $1,360 million in total revenues for 2019, generated by more than 100 expert networks. Here’s how expert networks evolved, and here’s why there are so many expert networks. To simplify, we put them in four broad categories.
Expert network market and landscape, 2019
Global leaders and regional champions
The expert network industry is led by four large expert networks. GLG remains the largest player and has continued growing in a crowded market. However, competitors are chipping away at its previously dominant market share. AlphaSights and Third Bridge are at its heels, both averaging 30% annual growth over the last five years. Guidepoint has revamped its business in recent years and is back to growth.
The “regional champions” each have a strong foothold in their respective regions, while also offering global services. For example, Capvision has long been the dominant player in China, trailed by BCC. Correspondingly, Coleman, Ridgetop and Leerink (MedaCorp) are all strong in the US buy-side industry.
Regional challengers and other small firms
Among the 100+ smaller expert networks, most have chose one of three tracks: (1) serving a specific region, (2) industry segment, or (3) applying a different business model. We find a handful being particularly interesting or fast-growing – these are the “regional challengers” separated from the larger “regional stable” category.
For instance, Dialectica and Silverlight Research are both growing fast with a standard expert network model. Conversely, Techspert.io, NewtonX and Prosapient have all successfully automated parts of their expert recruitment and delivery. Deepbench offers both an expert network and a platform for expert networks (as does regional champion Coleman).
Some networks have been around for a decade or more; others are brand new. Together, they make up a booming expert network industry.
Expert networks by region
Many expert networks focus on a particular region, where they have a stronger footprint than others. Notable firms are pictured below. Firms like VisasQ and Mimir are strong in Japan, whereas Lynk, Arches and Liahnson each cover different parts of Southeast Asia. Infomineo has a unique positioning towards North Africa and the Middle east, as has Accurate Insights on Brazil.
Who are the customers of expert networks?
Expert networks started out in the early 2000’s with serving the hedge fund community. The services were soon in demand also in the wider financial industry, reaching private equity firms, asset managers, banks and consultants. The recent years have seen a notable growth in the corporate segment that is driven by two factors:
- Former consultants bringing their research habits.
- An active sales push from firms like GLG and Atheneum promoting calls and consulting services to corporate clients.
Whereas the hedge fund community has a stable (or even declining) usage, consulting and corporate accounts grow quickly. Correspondingly, firms focusing on consultants (including AlphaSights and Dialectica) are among the fastest-growing in the industry.
What is next for expert networks?
The expert network industry is continuously evolving. Since we discussed industry consolidation v. fragmentation in 2018, the fragmentation case has had the upper hand. Fears that the industry reaches maturity might be overblown, but external pressures are mounting:
- Firstly, tightening privacy laws (e.g. the EU GDPR, California CPA and APEC CBPR) affect how networks can handle and share experts’ data.
- Secondly, the ease of finding experts attracts new entrants to the market. This risks creating a fatigue both among experts (receiving too many identical requests) and among clients (receiving too many similar sales pitches).
- Finally, Inex One enables a more efficient market, driving business to the high-performing expert networks.