The early days of 2019 find CEO Henry Schuck leading DiscoverOrg through a second acquisition in just as many months.
In February 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired data provider ZoomInfo. And in March, DiscoverOrg acquired email verification company NeverBounce. As DiscoverOrg continues to make waves in the marketing and sales intelligence industry, two things become clear: Henry Schuck has a vision.
The market is ready. The time is now.
The recent ZoomInfo acquisition is business – but for Schuck, who co-founded DiscoverOrg just over a decade ago, it’s personal, too.
We asked Schuck what the ZoomInfo acquisition means to him, for the company, and the broader implication of consolidation in the B2B data intelligence industry.
“We are the makers of our destiny now,” Schuck says. “It’s a blessing and a curse. We HAVE a massive opportunity in front of us today. If we can’t manage to build a huge, wonderful company here, we have only ourselves to blame. It’s not the market, it’s not the customers – it’s just us. That’s a big responsibility, and it makes you think about things differently.
“We’re combining best of both worlds – quality, depth, quantity. There’s a huge market opportunity here and execution is the only thing that can keep us from capturing it – execution and speed. How fast can we go?
“Conceptually, the acquisition made a lot of sense. It was hard to find a business reason for this NOT to happen. DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo are two companies coming at the same problem with different perspectives: quality vs. quantity. And we were both growing substantially.
“However, the real story unfolding here is that the market is growing. It’s not static. The number of people investing in data to drive sales, marketing, recruiting, and operations is growing every day. Every company in this space is growing.”
How does the acquisition of ZoomInfo affect the market?
While ZoomInfo and DiscoverOrg have been competitors for the past decade, Schuck is quick to point out there are a lot of areas where ZoomInfo dominates the market. He sees joining forces as filling in a blind spot.
“Before the acquisition,” he says, “it felt pretty clear to me that the way to get DiscoverOrg into a new stratosphere of growth was to get real breadth of the data. A lot of our products we knew would really take off once we added significantly more breadth. It was high-quality, yes, but if you wanted to append ALL of your leads, there were limits to what we could provide. ZoomInfo gave us that advantage.
“Our customers want more breadth. They want a larger sample size. They want to append more data. DiscoverOrg does quality better than anyone … but breadth, that’s ZoomInfo’s specialty. We think one of the ways to keep customers engaged is to have that breadth of information. We have that now.”
A change in mindset from startup to enterprise
Schuck understands that as a company grows, the CEO has to evolve, too.
“I still feel like DiscoverOrg is a upstart. I think we move like an upstart. And a startup mentality can get you through the lean, mean early years.
“But as a company gets more sophisticated,” Schuck says, “that has to change. In the areas where you want sophistication, we’re there! We’re sophisticated in the way we go to market, in our management of security and privacy, in our compliance. We’re still agile and nimble – but we know that startup frame of mind has to change.”
After the first few weeks on the job as CEO of ZoomInfo, he’s ready to get moving.
“I’m ready to transition from learning as much as I can about the ZoomInfo business, to actually putting plans into action. Of course I’m never done learning – but I’m ready to get going. I know enough that I can start making real decisions – for example, prioritizing work in every department. We have the resources to do great work. I want to deploy those resources at the initiatives that drive the highest value in each department. Those will be them most critical decisions we make.
In the weeds: Prioritizing all the riches of an acquisition
Ah, priorities. While it might be tempting to take advantage of the momentum of the acquisition to push in several directions, Schuck is strategic as ever.
“What naturally happens,” he says, “is that everyone has lots of ideas: We should do this. We should do that. And that! And that other thing!
“But in any given department, we need a consolidated global view. And we need to prioritize. One of the things I’m doing is asking department leaders to present a roadmap: What we’re working on today, what’s next, what’s in the backlog.
“Each week, we need to see how priorities have changed. Are we on track? Sometimes people prioritize by first in, first out; or last in, first out. We have to be more strategic than that. We want stack-ranked ideas that generate the most value for company.
“So part of my job is to gain visibility that I haven’t had in the past. I need to see what’s going on in the departments. We have to decide as a group what the most important things are, and go after those. I simply have to be more strategic.
“I feel really lucky,” Schuck says. “I appreciate having the opportunity to do this. I recognize how unique my position is. Not everyone gets to start a company out of their dorm room, work with so many talented people – to do something like this.
“We have a bright, bright future. Part of my job is just to take that all in – and to make sure this is just the very beginning.
What this acquisition means for the market: A high-level view
Joining forces with other companies for the benefit of customers is a natural evolution for DiscoverOrg, in Schuck’s opinion. It’s big news today, but it’s really not surprising.
“If you’ve been diligent, acquisitions will help you grow faster. It’s a business play,” Shuck says. “That’s all we’re doing. We’re growing in a steady smart way, and as a result, the most obvious thing to do is acquire other companies in our space.
“There are a whole bunch of companies in the sales and marketing data and technology space – tons of different tools! If one fits under our umbrella, and they are growing – they will be interesting to us. We want consolidation in a way that’s beneficial to customers.
“Mergers and acquisitions are a natural thing for a company of our size to do,” Schuck says. “Look at NeverBounce, which we announced earlier this week: Our customers are spending tons of money on email validation (and if they aren’t, they should be). Well, we thought we can bring that tool in-house and now customers get verified emails and email verification in one place.”
We are the architects of our destiny, yes. But for a successful acquisition, it’s usually very clear where the future path should lead.
What does this mean for DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo customers?
“The first thing we’re focusing on,” Schuck says, “is a combined platform. In the next 5 months, we’ll have parity between both platforms. While that’s happening, we’ll be building in some new and exciting features that both companies have been wanting.
“When we release the combined platform, it will have more functionality than either has today.”
It’s an economy of scale. “We have more engineering resources than we’ve ever had! We can work on more products, clean more data, and innovate faster. We’re consolidating efforts: Instead of 150 data engineers working on two platforms, we’re going to build just one.
“Customers will have a bigger universe of accounts, better data – and a single place to go,” he says. “A lot of our customers are using both solutions right now. In the future, there will be no need to bounce around systems to do their job really well.”
What new features will DiscoverOrg/ZoomInfo customers see?
So what’s coming down the pipe?
Henry Schuck defers to DiscoverOrg’s Senior VP of Product Management, Justin Withers. And Withers sees our B2B data offering through this lens:
“DiscoverOrg’s deep, actionable intelligence is critical for sales and marketing teams that want to concentrate their prospecting efforts on the hottest opportunities first. ” Withers says. “And as we overlay ZoomInfo’s broad coverage of companies, we’re significantly expanding the value of that actionable intelligence. And by actionable intelligence, I mean data points like those found in DiscoverOrg’s Scoops and Intent Data. Scoops are DiscoverOrg’s research-curated insider intelligence on planned projects, prospect pain points and personnel moves.
“To date,” Withers says, “ZoomInfo had not introduced anything like this, but now we can expand the curation and delivery of Scoops to the universe of ZoomInfo data. And we’re not just layering in scoops…We’re adding additional depth with intent data Scoops, technographics and technology alerts, org charts , corporate hierarchy, investor data and funding rounds and we’re giving customers the ability to map these additional data points to their CRM, Marketing Automation Systems, and SDR tools to trigger workflows that operationalize their teams at scale. The additional depth will be a huge benefit to ZoomInfo customers as will the additional coverage for DiscoverOrg customers. It’s a win-win.
“Where a customer of ours used to have visibility to 50 companies actively researching their type of solution, they might now see 500. When you bring together the coverage of ZoomInfo and the deep, actionable intelligence of DiscoverOrg, our customers not only see their target market expand, but they also see more of their prospects that are ready to buy now.”
A birds-eye view of UX
One interesting benefit of several acquisitions in the space of a few short years: The opportunity to take a close look at how the best organizations in this space have approached solving similar challenges.
“We’ve been able to tap into how three different organizations design UX around search, lead and account scoring, matching and enrichment,” Withers says. “We have visibility into different approaches, workflows and integrations. It’s like going to the store and instead of one type of cereal you now have three to choose from. Between these three industry leaders, you also have three very different paradigms to draw upon, different users to interview and understand why they liked or disliked the way something was handled in one application versus another.
“We’ve been able to triangulate the best collective user experience for accessing, consuming, and taking action on data. It’s a behind-the-scenes view that most companies never get!”
So – what’s next?
The process of merging two $100+-million companies will take some time.
Henry Schuck plans to have data parity by this June. And after that?
Look for more, better tools to help predict, prioritize, and conduct effective outreach that leads to higher conversion rates, more meetings, more pipeline and more revenue growth.
“We’re constantly evaluating new tools and data points to help our customers prioritize the companies and contacts they market and sell to each and every day,” Withers says. “As we look ahead, we see new and improved ways of managing how sales teams evaluate and establish their sales territories and how they enable best practices across individuals and teams.
“We want to make it even easier for users to engage with prospective buyers directly from the platform – especially for smaller businesses who don’t have access to enterprise selling tools or resources that can implement sophisticated sales tech stacks.
“Our vision is that every customer – whether they have a few employees or a few thousand – has the ability to use DiscoverOrg’s companies, contacts, and intelligence to engage directly with their prospective buyers and get visible, measurable results.”
We want to make it easy to use great data to drive smart decisions, regardless of your tech stack.
When we acquired iProfile in 2015, and RainKing in 2017, our customers enjoyed great success with the increase in data. Joining forces with ZoomInfo now positions DiscoverOrg as THE go-to-market operating system for growthbound companies large and small.
As Schuck says: “We did it, we’re doing it, and we’re going to keep doing it.”