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Salesforce.com buys Jigsaw for $142M

Salesforce.com acquired business data company Jigsaw on April 21, in a bid to compete in the data services arena. The $142 million deal is expected to close in the second quarter of fiscal year 2011, which begins on May 1 of that year.

Jigsaw’s database includes 21 million executives. Its 1.2 million members, including some of these executives, update data in a “crowdsourced” manner, similar to how a Wikipedia entry is edited.

Salesforce, which earlier this month announced a commitment to a more social, mobile paradigm called “Cloud 2,” believes Jigsaw’s model meshes well with its own corporate goals.

“Fundamentally, they’re an Internet company, and that’s what we are, as well,” said Kraig Swensrud, VP of product marketing at Salesforce.com, a CRM software-as-a-service provider.

Jigsaw’s employees, including CEO Jim Fowler and COO Kevin Akeroyd, will all remain at the company’s San Mateo, CA headquarters, with Jigsaw operating as an independent business unit. The companies believe the acquisition will create an “iTunes for data,” Swensrud said.

“ITunes provides data in the form of a song, and an app to get that data on an as-needed basis,” he said. “That integrated experience on the Web is what we want to provide. Jigsaw provides the data, Salesforce provides the app, and you get the freshest data.”

Salesforce will also enter the data services space when the acquisition closes.

“The acquisitions that we’ve made to date have largely been technology acquisitions that have augmented the product lines we’ve already got,” Swensrud said. “Jigsaw augments our core Sales Cloud application, but it is in and of itself a large, independent marketplace for us.”

However, the company won’t go head-to-head with vertical players such as Infogroup, D&B and Hoovers, Swensrud added. Because of Jigsaw’s non-traditional approach to data collection and cleansing, it has sharing agreements with these firms.

“We’re glad to be seen as a partner,” Swensrud said.

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