Alphasights expert network
Alphasights is one of the larger expert networks. It was founded in 2008 and became one of the first firms to successfully reduce GLG’s market dominance. The founders had a background in consulting with McKinsey and BCG.
When Alphasights started out, GLG was dependent on its traditional static network. Experts were recruited proactively, on fairs and from telephone directories. Onboarding an expert was time-consuming and complex. Alphasights, lacking a database of experts, began recruiting experts directly for live projects. To enable this, they sped up the onboarding of experts, with modern tech tools and user-friendly interfaces. This business model’s success was supported by the even faster growth of LinkedIn. Today, the company combines a large database with custom recruiting.
Associates manage both research (expert recruitment), client account management and sales for their accounts. This differs from GLG and Third Bridge, who have separated the research role and customer-facing sales roles. As a result, Alphasights has kept a higher productivity/ yield per employee than most peers and managed to retain key employees.
Alphasights was featured in our expert network benchmarking from June-July 2018, receiving one of the highest rankings. The company is sometimes confused with its India-based competitor Insight Alpha, which was founded in the same year.
Alphasights historic milestones
- 2008 – Founded in London, backed by an investment from Acton Capital.
- 2011 – New York office opened
- 2012 – Hong Kong office opened
- 2013 – Dubai office opened
- 2015 – San Francisco office opened
- 2016 – Hamburg, Shanghai and Seoul offices opened
- 2017 – Tokyo office opened
AskWonder offers “Expert Q&A” services. It was founded in 2012 and has a flexible workforce doing desktop research and simpler data collection gigs on demand. When clients ask a question on AskWonder.com, it activates its network of researchers (typically students or flexible gig workers) who do web searches and compile a comprehensive answer based on publicly available sources. The replies are stored for future use. Some are made publicly available, unless the client opts to keep them private.
Over the years, the company has had hundreds of gig researchers and clients. Although online reviews from employed researchers are mixed, the users that we’ve spoken to are mostly positive to the service.
AskWonder shares extensive detail on its business model in this public welcome document.
Atheneum was founded in 2010 by former consultants from L.E.K. and Kaiser Associates. It gained strong presence in Germany and central Europe and is today one of the larger expert networks. According to our expert interviews, the company makes the bulk of revenues in Europe and primarily serves strategy consulting firms.
In 2015, Atheneum raised €10m from Vogel Business Media, a German publishing company.
In September 2018, Atheneum raised another €10m from Crosslantic Capital Management, a German growth capital firm.
In August 2019, Atheneum announced an updated offering: Research-as-a-Service (RaaS) is the name for the combination of (1) expert calls, (2) custom reports and (3) expert recruitment for longer-term projects. In conjunction with this, the firm appointed a new CTO to drive the adoption of machine learning in the expert recruitment process. The CTO had previously co-founded Chime Advisors, a machine-driven expert network.
Atheneum was featured in our expert network benchmarking from June-July 2018.
Atheneum has offices in 10 locations: Berlin (HQ), London, New York, Santiago De Chile, Lahore, Shanghai, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Munich.
Bioexpert Network is an expert network based in Barcelona, Spain. Bioexpert Network was started in 2017. It uses freelancers to recruit experts.
Bioexpert Network is specialized on experts within life sciences (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and diagnostics), a focus that it shares with Techspert.io, Experts OnTap and Bioinformatics.
Visit the Bioexpert Network’s website here.
Bioinformatics Inc is a research and advisory firm operating an expert network business area. Bioinformatics was founded in 1994.
Bioinformatics is specialized on experts within life sciences (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and diagnostics), a focus that it shares with Techspert.io, Experts OnTap and Bioexpert Network.
Visit Bioinformatics’ website here.
The Bridger expert network was started in 2019 by former Guidepoint managers. Bridger operates as a standard expert network with custom recruiting of experts. However, it uses freelance recruiters instead of full-time employees.
Business Connect China (BCC) is an expert network based in Shanghai, China. Business Connect China was founded in 2008 dedicated to recruiting experts in China for international clients.
Visit BCC’s website here.
The Candour expert network was formed in 2016 by ex-consultants in from the oil and gas industry to provide premium expert network service to clients in the consulting and financial markets. Candour focuses purely on the energy and industrials sector.
Capvision is one of the larger expert networks. Capvision was founded in 2006 by former Bain & Company consultants. It is the largest expert network based in China. The bulk of its clients are Chinese firms, although Capvision has been successful in serving US-based firms researching Chinese markets.
Capvision originally focused specifically on sourcing experts within China, but has since expanded globally. It currently has offices in New York, Shanghai, Munich, Hong Kong, Osaka, and Beijing and offers both expert calls, surveys and corporate access services.
Chime Advisors was a machine-driven expert network in London. It was founded in 2015 by an ex-McKinsey consultant and the director of a web development agency. Chime Advisors set out to build a machine-driven expert network, using statistics/machine learning to identify experts. It was and shut down in early 2019 and the CTO joined Atheneum.
Coleman Research is a medium-sized expert network, founded in 2003. It operates a standard expert network model and is focused on serving buy-side firms.
The company has offices in New York, Raleigh, Boston, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong.
Coleman Research company background
Coleman Research’s Expert Management System (EMS)
At Inex One, we are particularly intrigued by Coleman Research’s latest move: a tool that seems to copy the Inex One Expert Management System.
- In November 2018, Coleman Research announced that they would launch a platform for aggregating analyst access and expert network services.
- In June 2019, the company published a post on privacy legislation (e.g. GDPR). The post acknowledges that traditional expert network services face challenges with privacy legislation (and broadly mimics a series of blog posts from Inex One).
We are curious to see how Coleman will manage being both an aggregator and a supplier. The company faces a strategic dilemma between investing in its profitable expert network services, or in an EMS that risks cannibalizing its core expert network business. In July 2019, Coleman’s CTO left the firm.
The Deepbench expert network was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Boston. It operates a few different business models:
- A regular expert network service (standard on-demand recruitment).
- A blog with curious snippets of information called Deepbench Learn.
- A DIY marketplace, where clients can browse Deepbench’s existing network to connect with experts.
- A software solution that helps banks identify internal experts and make them available for expert network consultations.
The latter business model is similar to the “organizational expertise map” proposed by Xperiti.
Deepbench has taken in an investment from Macquarie bank, helping it to promote its analysts to external clients.
Visit Deepbench’s website here.
DeMatteo Research is a one of the oldest expert networks. DeMatteo Research was founded in 1997 as a general investment research company.
In 2009, DeMatteo Research struck an exclusive partnership with LinkedIn. This was predicted to give DeMatteo an advantage over GLG and other newly started networks, however it does not seem to have materialized. Today, DeMatteo operates a medium-sized expert network business, primarily serving US-based buy-side firms.
Dialectica is an expert network headquartered in Athens, Greece and London, UK. Dialectica was founded in 2015, and has grown rapidly with a low-cost offering. It is particularly strong in the consulting segment in Europe.
Dialectica got the highest rating by clients in our expert network benchmarking from June 2018.
Visit Dialectica’s website here.
The ENG expert network was founded in 2009 in New York. ENG is today a medium-sized expert network, focused on serving buy-side firms.
The ENG expert network is one of the handful of firms outright stating they use AI in their work. Other such “machine-driven expert networks” include Xperiti, NewtonX, Prosapient, and Atheneum (after its acquisition of Chime Advisors).
Visit the ENG website here.
Experts OnTap is an expert network based in Philadephia. Experts OnTap was founded in 2018 as Enzyme Life Science Experts but rebranded in 2019.
Experts OnTap is specialized on experts within life sciences (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and diagnostics), a focus that it shares with Techspert.io, Bioexpert network and Bioinformatics.
Visit the company’s website here.
The GLG expert network was founded in 1998 and is today the world’s largest expert network. It pioneered the industry and holds a significant market share. However, recent growth has been slower, and it has been losing market share to new entrants.
When GLG started, experts were recruited “offline”, at fairs and events. Their expert network was a good phone directory, but nowhere close to the wealth of information stored in today’s browsable databases. GLG has experimented with many interesting business areas over the years. These include:
- The 2008 collaboration with Credit Suisse. GLG offered access to the bank’s analysts, but this was later shut down.
- The 2010 partnership with Bloomberg, later shut down.
- The 2011 Q&A website Gplus/GLG High table, shut down in 2013.
- The 2014 GLG Share, offering expert calls for entrepreneurs. No longer active.
- The 2016 GLG Law, offering expert witness services (experts are brought in on litigation cases). Still active.
However, the 1h expert phone call has remained their core value proposition, according to former executives.
Major milestones for GLG:
- In 2004, GLG raised $30m from Bessemer Venture Partners.
- In 2007, Silver Lake invested $200m at a supposed $875m valuation. Former executives claim that the purpose was an imminent stock market listing. However, for various reasons, GLG remained private. Former executives mention that reasons included the global financial crisis, regulatory scrutiny, and GLG’s sustained profitable growth.
- In 2015, GLG bought back Silver Lake’s stake, raising $212m external funds from SFW Capital. SFW Capital had reportedly earned back its full investment by 2019, through dividends from GLG.
- In 2018, the CEO stepped down and parts of senior management was replaced.
GLG has evolved significantly over time. We discuss the emergence and history of GLG in our history of the expert network industry. Furthermore, a senior expert shared colorful insights on the expert networks’ evolution in this piece.
Finally, here’s GLG’s website.
Guidepoint is one of the larger expert networks and operates a standard business model. It was founded in 2003 by Albert Sebag, an organic chemist that had “developed a deep Rolodex of the world’s leading physicians” (link).
Guidepoint – major milestones
2003 – Founded in New York City as Clinical Advisors.
2007 – Rebranded as Guidepoint Global.
2009 – Acquired Vista Research, one of the first expert networks, for $10-13m. Employees at Vista had started the competing networks Primary Insight and Ridgetop Research, and later also Mosaic Research.
2011 – Mentioned in relation to an insider trading case, but not accused of any wrongdoing.
2015 – Acquired Innosquared, a German expert network with a strong presence in Europe.
Infomineo is an expert network based in Casablanca, Morocco. Infomineo was founded in 2011 by former McKinsey and BCG consultants. It started out as a business research firm, focusing on the Middle East and Africa. In 2018, Infomineo recruited a manager from Atheneum to lead its expansion into the expert network industry.
Visit the company’s website here.
Insight Alpha is an expert network based in India. It was founded in 2008 and is today one of the larger India-focused expert networks.
Insight Alpha is sometimes confused with its UK-based competitor AlphaSights, which was founded in the same year.
Knowledge Ridge is a mid-sized global expert network, specialized in customized research across all industries. Knowledge Ridge was founded in 2016 by managers with experience from GLG and ENG. It is headquartered in Pune, India.
Knowledge Ridge offers experts to sign up directly on its website.
Visit the company’s website here.
The Lynk Global expert network was founded in Singapore in 2015 as The Straits Network. Lynk’s founder is a PE and hedge fund professional who worked at Silver Lake in the years of its $200m investment in GLG.
Lynk Global is today one of the larger expert networks and has grown to serve clients also beyond Southeast Asia. Lynk has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, and Mumbai.
Visit the Lynk Global website here.
Maven Research is an expert network founded in 2008. Maven Research is focused on serving corporate customers, offering both expert calls and longer projects.
Before starting Maven Research, the founder worked at GLG.
Visit the Maven website here.
Monocl is an expert network focused on medical experts and medical key opinion leaders. As it is not native to the expert network industry, Monocl describes itself as a cloud-based stakeholder platform although the use cases and clients are directly matching those of other expert networks. Monocl is machine-driven, analyzing large datasets to find relevant experts. Over three funding rounds, it has raised a total of approx. $4,5 m.
1st funding round of 8 msek in December 2015.
2nd funding round of 5 msek in January 2017.
3rd funding round of €3 m in July 2019.
Learn more about machine-driven expert networks in our AI deepdive: AI and expert networks.
The Mosaic Research expert network was founded in New York in 2010. Mosaic Research is focused on custom recruiting experts for buy-side clients, but also offers related services. The founder had previously been employed at a hedge fund and at Vista Research, an expert network founded in 2001 and later acquired by Guidepoint.
Mosaic Research offers both regular expert network services, data streams and a reporting software based on the Salesforce platform.
Mosaic was an early proponent of an Expert Management System,
Visit the Mosaic Research website here.
NewtonX is a machine-driven expert network started in 2016. It was initially focused on regular expert network services, but soon pivoted to survey data collection from professionals and consumers. This focus has paid off – with $15 million of fresh venture capital, it looks set to take a piece of the expert network survey business.
$3m first round funding raised in 2018.
$12m second round funding raised in 2019.
Learn more about machine-driven expert networks in our AI deepdown: AI and expert networks.
Nordic Knowledge Partners is an expert network based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It started in 2016 as Mintebi, operating a DIY Marketplace, but pivoted to a standard expert network model under the name Nordic Knowledge Partners in 2017. Although the name conveys a Nordic focus, the company now serves international clients on international projects.
Primary Insight is a medium-sized expert network based in New York. It was founded in 2005 as an in-house expert network at Bear Stearns. After the bank’s collapse and acquisition by J.P. Morgan in 2008, Primary Insight was spun out as an independent firm in 2009.
Prior to setting up Primary Insight within Bear Sterns, the founders worked at Vista Research, an expert network founded in 2001 and eventually acquired by Guidepoint in 2009. Vista Research was also where the founders of Ridgetop Research and Mosaic Research started out. Today’s Primary Insight management team combines backgrounds from GLG, Guidepoint and Coleman Research.
Visit Primary Insight’s website here.
Prosapient was started in 2018, as a machine-driven expert network. The company has grown quickly with its low-cost offering, selling both expert calls and surveys. It has made multiple angel rounds and now has 42 shareholders (many of which are employees at potential client firms).
Prosapient was featured in our expert network benchmarking from June-July 2018. We analyzed the machine-driven business model in our AI deepdive from 2019: AI and expert networks. The article discusses the evolution of expert networks and the pros&cons of using machine learning/statistical models. Visit Prosapient’s website here or read more about different expert network models here.
Ridgetop Research is a medium-sized network founded in 2008, operating a standard expert network model.
Ridgetop has a shared background with three other New York-based expert networks:
- Just like Primary Insight and Mosaic Research, Ridgetop Research traces its roots back to Vista Research, an expert network founded in 2001, acquired by S&P in 2005 and sold to Guidepoint in 2009.
- Just like Coleman Research, the founding team has a background at Multex, a financial information service launched in the dot-com wave of 1999 and acquired by Reuters in 2003.
Silverlight Research is an expert network based in London, operating a standard expert network model. It was founded in November 2017 by a former Morgan Stanley investment manager and has grown rapidly since.
Silverlight Research primarily serves buy-side and capital markets teams.
Visit their website here.
The Techspert.io expert network was founded in 2015, as a machine-driven expert network in Cambridge, UK. It started out with a focus on life sciences under the name Biotechspert, but successfully pivoted into expert calls and raised venture capital during 2018.
$1.1m first round funding.
Techspert is specialized on experts within life sciences (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and diagnostics), a focus that it shares with Bioinformatics Inc, Experts OnTap and Bioexpert Network.
Tegus is an expert network based in Chicago. It was started in 2016 by a former employee at Alphasights and a current employee at Investment Group Santa Barbara.
Tegus raised $1,5m in 2017.
Third Bridge expert network
Third Bridge is one of the largest expert networks globally. Founded in 2007 as Cognolink, it rebranded in 2015 as Third Bridge (the name of one of its business units). It was one of the first firms to successfully reduce GLG’s market dominance. Its founders had a background in consulting with Bain & Company, which was an important early client according to expert sources.
When Third Bridge started out, GLG was dependent on its traditional static network. Experts were recruited proactively, on fairs and from telephone directories. Onboarding an expert was time-consuming and complex. Third Bridge, lacking a database of experts, began recruiting experts directly for live projects. To enable this, they sped up the onboarding of experts, with modern tech tools and user-friendly interfaces. This business model’s success was supported by the even faster growth of LinkedIn. Today, the company combines a large database with custom recruiting, promoted in two business areas:
- Connections, a standard expert network operation with phone calls, surveys, project recruiting etc.
- Forum, a service of hosted expert calls. Clients either listen in or get the transcripts.
Forum has seen rapid growth since it was created in 2015. Clients pay per-seat subscriptions to access Third Bridge’s growing database of call transcripts. Our expert sources mention that it represents ~25% of Third Bridge’s revenues, and the lions’ share of its net profit. Visit the Forum dashboard here.
Third Bridge historic milestones
- 2007 – founded in London as Cognolink.
- 2010 – acquired the Swedish expert network Epito.
- 2015 – rebranded from Cognolink to Third Bridge.
- 2012 – raised an undisclosed amount from growth capital firm Beringea, for a 13% stake.
- 2017 – the Swedish private equity firm IK Investment Partners acquired Beringea’s stake and substantially more, according to our expert interview sources.
VisasQ is an expert network specialized on Japan. It was launched in 2012 as Walkntalk Inc. and later rebranded. VisasQ operates two business areas:
- A standard expert network called VQ
- A DIY marketplace called “spot consulting”
The founders and management team of VisasQ combine experience from investment banks (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan) and investment firms (Sumitomo, Unison). VisasQ is the leader in the Japanese expert network market, which has seen strong growth in recent years as both GLG, AlphaSights, Atheneum and Guidepoint established offices in Tokyo.
The Xperiti expert network was started in 2017 and went live in 2018. Xperiti is a machine-driven expert network, analyzing large datasets to identify experts.
For enterprise clients, Xperiti plans to develop “organizational expertise maps”, containing detailed information about each individual employed at the company. When the client company launches a request for experts, Xperiti would start its expert search in the organizational expertise map (looking for company-internal experts first). Xperiti’s offering has similarities with the “internal network of experts” proposed by Deepbench.io.
Xperiti has raised a total of $1.2m in three funding rounds.
Visit Xperiti’s website here.
Xperts Council is a medium-sized expert network with offices in London, Paris and Porto. It was founded in 2013 and is well-connected with investment firms in central and southern Europe. Xperts Council is sector-agnostic with global coverage, focusing on 100% custom sourcing.
Visit the Xperts Council website here.