Panjiva: Bridging the Continental Divides Between Buyers and Sellers?

Panjiva is one of the new(er) Trade Intelligence Providers that have come on the scene in the last couple years. Founders Josh Green (Harvard Management guy) and James Psota (MIT Tech geek) launched their brainchild in 2009 juiced by angel and venture capital funding from Gerson Lehrman Group and Battery Ventures, respectively.

The company name is a derivative of “Pangaea” – a term referring to when (presumably) all of the world’s continents were joined together as a single super-continent. “The Panjiva team likes to think that we’re bringing the continents—or at least the people on them—closer together.”

Unlike other Trade Intelligence Providers, Panjiva currently focuses on one primary niche: Global Sourcing.  Their “intelligence platform” is designed to help domestic buyers connect with foreign sellers.

Specifically, as stated in their web promotion:

For Buyers:

  • Quickly develop short-lists of potential suppliers.
  • Conduct background checks on potential suppliers.
  • Keep tabs on competitors’ sourcing activities.
  • Keep tabs on existing suppliers.

And for Suppliers:

  • Get bigger customers.
  • Get more customers.

Their packaging looks slick with an intelligently designed web site, good press, and apt use of social media with blog, twitter, promotional video and web marketing. They’ve developed an affiliate program with a couple of impressive partners. Panjiva offers three convenient payment options: by the year for $999, by the month for $99 or by the click for $10 (why not $9.99?).  Perhaps, customers could also buy by the byte?

Word out on the streets is they are a very aggressive company and sometimes come across with a tad bit of arrogance. Heck, why not? They come well armed academically, technologically and financially, and seem to have successfully wiggled their way into a significant market niche within the trade intelligence space.

Waterborne data

Notwithstanding, for all the hoopla, Panjiva just slices and dices the very same data that is being offered by many a Trade Intelligence Provider – the daily DHS/ U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Shipping Manifest (bill of lading) feeds/CDs about which I have written (and will continue to write) many a post on this forum. This data is made publicly available through the freedom of information act by CDP (Customs and Border Protection) for $100 per day via monthly subscription or by special request.

Originally, Panjiva used to augment and enhance the bread-and-butter data received from Customs with additional value-added databases licensed from PIERS such as foreign supplier profiles, shipment/product valuations and waterborne export transactions. That was until the newly installed PIERS management team realized that they were feeding a tiger cub and sporting a voracious appetite at hunt on their turf for the tasty foreign sourcing market segment.

Now, Panjiva must rely upon their (Harvard) brains and (MIT) technology alone to survive within an increasingly predatory environment where there is massive proliferation of competing trade intelligence (?) providers offering search and reporting utilities against the same data for as little as 99 cents a day.

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