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
- 2019 – Inex One identified AlphaSights as a global leader in our review of the 2019 expert network market size.
Arbolus – the Expert Platform is an expert network operating a DIY Marketplace model. It offers projects ranging from 1h expert calls to multi-month consulting projects. Two former AlphaSights managers joined forces to start CIQ Group in 2018.
In 2019, the company:
- Rebranded its service as Arbolus – the Expert Platform. The parent company remains CIQ Group.
- Raised $1.8m from Fuel Ventures
- Late 2019, Arbolus acquired Waterside, an upstart firm launched the same year.
Visit Arbolus’ 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.
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.
Prosapient started in 2018 as a machine-driven expert network. Prosapient has its headquarter in London and a technical development team in the Ukraine. One co-founder and multiple employees previously worked at Coleman Research. The company has grown with a low-cost offering, selling both expert calls and surveys. It has raised funds from angel investors, raising £1.3m in 2017 and >£2m in 2019 in two subsequent rounds, with a third round (undisclosed) early 2020. Consequently, the funding rounds led to the company having 55+ shareholders (many of which are employees at potential client firms).
The Prosapient expert network is one of the handful of firms outright stating they use AI and machine learning in their work. Other such “machine-driven expert networks” include Xperiti, NewtonX, ENG llc, CleverX, Techspert.io and Atheneum (after its acquisition of Chime Advisors).
Prosapient was featured in our expert network benchmarking in June-July 2018. We identified Prosapient as a regional challenger in our review of the 2019 expert network market size. Regional challengers are separated from other smaller expert networks by merit of their growth and/or business model.
In late 2019, Prosapient announced that it will be launching an expert network aggregator. From Inex One, we watch with interest if Prosapient will manage to be both a network and an aggregator, or if they will indeed divest one of the business areas.
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.
Silverlight Research is an expert network based in London. It operates with a standard expert network model, recruiting experts from public sources. Silverlight Research was founded in November 2017 by a former Morgan Stanley investment manager. The company primarily serves buy-side and capital markets teams.
Silverlight offers a helpful guide on compliance for experts, complete with an FAQ.
Silverlight sits at the same London office hotel as Atheneum. The company has grown with a distributed workforce. It opened a Lisbon office in 2019, but also has satellite teams working part-time from around the globe, e.g. Bangladesh, New York, and Macao. Silverlight alumni co-founded the London-based expert network LB Networks in 2018.
We identified Silverlight as a regional challenger in our review of the 2019 expert network market size. Regional challengers are separated from other smaller expert networks by merit of their growth and/or business model.
Visit the company’s 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. It rebranded and addressed additional industry segments, gaining VC-backing:
Learn more about machine-driven expert networks in our AI deepdive: AI and expert networks, or read Techspert’s own explainer on AI and ML here. Other such “machine-driven expert networks” include Xperiti, NewtonX, CleverX, Prosapient and Atheneum (after its acquisition of Chime Advisors).
Techspert is mostly 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.
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.
Third Bridge business areas
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.
- 2019 – Inex One identified Third Bridge as a global leader in our review of the 2019 expert network market size.