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 No longer active.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.