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CRM Giant Salesforce Snaps Up Business Contact Player

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Posted April 21, 2010 By Larry Barrett     Feedback

The on-demand CRM software leader continues to bolster its data services portfolio, adding a company that provides business contact information in a Wikipedia-style format.

Salesforce said it will cough up $142 million in cash to acquire Jigsaw Data Corp., a privately held provider of crowd-sourced data services in the cloud.

The acquisition dovetails with Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) CEO Marc Benioff's "Cloud 2" vision, which calls for the addition of more social networking and real-time access to data in cloud-based applications .

Jigsaw, based in San Mateo, Calif., uses a Wikipedia-like Web site to collect real-time business contact data in the cloud. The company claims it has more than 1.2 million members and counts more than 800 corporate customers including New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, Hackett Group and Sales Performance International.

"Since Jigsaw's offering is delivered in the cloud, companies can focus on realizing success instead of focusing on legacy enterprise data management models that require expensive integration and continuous, dedicated maintenance," Salesforce said in a statement announcing the deal. "Jigsaw's data cloud platform also creates an enormous opportunity for developers and independent software vendors to deliver entirely new applications that leverage the business contact data found in Jigsaw." p>Eventually, the company will intertwine its CRM applications with Jigsaw's cloud-based business contact data to provide what Salesforce calls its "entry into the $3 billion cloud-based data services market."

In a statement, Benioff added that "with Jigsaw, we'll make it as easy as Wikipedia to source data, as easy as iTunes to buy data and as easy as Facebook to stay updated as the data changes."

The comparison to such online- and social-based services is in keeping with Benioff's efforts to position Salesforce as a leader in merging on-demand CRM and enterprise applications with burgeoning interest in evolving modes of accessing data -- a take on the industry's evolution that's culminated in his Cloud 2 vision, which Benioff most recently pitched at a number of conferences in Silicon Valley.

"Social networking has passed e-mail and the kids in college now aren't using e-mail," he said earlier this month at Google's Atmosphere event.

The Jigsaw acquisition is also the latest major move in a busy few weeks for Benioff's company. Earlier this month, Salesforce unveiled ChatterExchange, a new marketplace for third-party developers to build and sell applications on its new on-demand collaboration platform.

Salesforce shares trimmed $0.35 a share, or less than 1 percent, to $84.13 shortly after the deal was announced.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's current fiscal year.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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