After some years of inactivity, Askvisory.com was rebooted in 2017 under a new CEO, with a background from Guidepoint, BCC Global and Vista Research. However, as of November 2019, Askvisory seems to yet again be without a leader and operating team.
Visit the company website here.
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.
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.
Coleman Research is a medium-sized expert network founded in 2003. It operates a standard expert network model and focuses on buy-side firms.
The company has offices in New York, Raleigh, Boston, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong.
Coleman Research company background
In 2017, some Coleman employees left to set up the Prosapient expert network.
Coleman Research’s Expert Management System (EMS)
At Inex One, we are particularly intrigued by Coleman Research’s latest move. They built a tool that bears resemblance to 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 the challenges around privacy legislation that Inex One had pointed out in a series of posts.
- In July 2019, Coleman’s long-standing CTO left the firm. A new Chairman joined to drive tech strategy.
- In October 2019, the company rebranded its Expert Management System as an Expert Relationship Management (ERM) platform. The platform is aimed at companies operating their own expert network.
Coleman faced a strategic dilemma between investing in its profitable expert network services, and developing an EMS that risks cannibalizing its core expert network business. The pivot towards serving expert networks seems reasonable. Whichever the outcome, we are excited about their move towards aggregation.
Expert Management Systems create transparency and efficiency in the industry. Therefore, they are a logical next step in the history of expert networks. In addition, they’re valuable to the users – here’s how a bank saved >40% on expert network costs by using the Inex One EMS.
Coleman Research featured in our expert network benchmarking from June-July 2018. We identified Coleman as a regional champion in our review of the 2019 expert network market size. Visit the company website here.
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.
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, CleverX, Prosapient, Techspert.io and Atheneum (after its acquisition of Chime Advisors). We identified ENG as a regional stable player in our review of the 2019 expert network market size.
Visit the ENG website here.
Experfy is a DIY expert network, an “intellectual marketplace” where industry thought leaders can combine consulting and teaching. Experfy provides free consultations to help scoping project needs and provide savings over traditional consulting firms.
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 (Gerson Lehrman Group) 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, as recounted by a senior expert. 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 cubs” – expert networks started by former employees
- 2009: Former Guidepoint and GLG managers started ExpertConnect in New York, USA.
- 2010: Maven Research started in San Francisco, USA.
- 2010: Noble Insights started in New York, USA.
- 2015: Former Capvision and GLG managers started Liahnson & Company in Seoul, South Korea.
- 2018: Inventiv Insights started in Shillong, India.
- 2019: Focal Fact started in Dublin, Ireland.
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 network’s evolution in this piece. In 2019, GLG generated close to $600m revenues and remains the largest expert network in the industry.
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.
2019 – Inex One identified Guidepoint as a global leader in our review of the 2019 expert network market size.
Visit the company 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.
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. Other firms rooted in Vista Research include Ridgetop Research and Primary Insight.
Mosaic offers both regular expert network services, data streams and a reporting software based on the Salesforce platform. The company was an early proponent of an Expert Management System.
Curiously, Mosaic has a team of 8 Executive Assistants to the CEO based in Philippines. This might be a code word for expert network recruiters, or the CEO is just really really busy. 🤔
Visit the company’s website here.
NewtonX is a machine-driven expert network started in 2016. NewtonX initially focused on automating regular expert network services. However, it soon pivoted to survey data collection from professionals and consumers. This focus has paid off – with $15 million of fresh venture capital, the firm looks set to take a piece of the expert network survey business.
The company was co-founded by two former McKinsey consultants and two CTOs, one of which is still with the company. Because of the technical core product, NewtonX employs more engineers/ developers than typical expert networks.
$3m first round funding raised in 2018.
$12m second round funding raised in 2019.
NewtonX is one of the handful of firms outright stating they use AI in their work. Other such “machine-driven expert networks” include Xperiti, ENG llc, CleverX, Prosapient and Atheneum (after its acquisition of Chime Advisors). We identified NewtonX as a regional challenger in our review of the 2019 expert network market size.
Learn more about machine-driven expert networks in our AI deepdive: AI and expert networks.
OnFrontiers is an expert network based in New York. OnFrontiers was founded in 2014 and is operating a DIY Marketplace expert network. The service is focused on expert in emerging markets, beyond what is typically covered by classic expert networks.
The company joined the NYC Techstars accelerator batch in the summer of 2016.
Primary Global Research (PGR) was an expert network based in Mountain View, California. Although inactive since years (it’s website was latest updated in 2010), it is noteworthy for its history.
In 2008-2010, Primary Global Research received praise for its innovative services and rapid growth.
In 2010, it was implicated in the FBI insider trading investigations.
In 2011, it announced it closed its offices, while supposedly remaining in business.
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.
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.
Inex One identified Ridgetop as a regional champion in our review of the 2019 expert network market size. Regional champions have a particularly strong foothold in their respective regions.
Slingshot Insights is an expert network founded in 2013 in New York. Slingshot Offers “crowd-funded expert calls” and transcripts, allowing multiple clients to dial in to the same phone calls.
The company has focused on retail investors, collaborating with Seeking Alpha.
Slingshot Insights acquired Truth on Call, a healthcare survey firm, in October 2019.
Visit the company website here.
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.
The company raised $1,5m in 2017. We identified Tegus 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.
Westlake International supports institutional investors to stay up to date about drivers impacting Chinese sectors and companies since its founding in 2008. It provides primary research for Greater China, including limited distribution technology and China Internet research reports, channel check, custom research/survey and field check services across a wide variety of verticals and specialties.
Zintro is an expert network that operates a “DIY Marketplace“. It offers tools for clients to recruit experts on their own. It also posts projects to a public marketplace, where experts can browse and pitch themselves.
Zintro presents itself as an affordable alternative to other expert networks. Experts may browse the public marketplace and pitch themselves for projects. The matching, vetting and quality assurance of experts is not done in-house as in other expert networks, but instead outsourced to the clients and experts themselves. Therefore, Zintro requires far fewer employees to operate.
On the other hand, most clients use expert networks precisely because they want someone to do matching, vetting and QA for them. Zintro thus targets a self-serve segment of the market. This includes small corporates who only have occasional need for expert network services and less time-sensitive requests.
You may visit the company website here.