Can you actually disrupt public data, which by definition is public, and by extension is typically free or close to free? Well, in a way, you can. A new start-up called Enigma, which can be thought of as “the Google of public data,” has assembled over 100,000 public data sources – some of them not even fully or easily accessible online. Think all kinds of public records from land ownership, public company data, customs filings, private plan registrations, all sorts of data, and all in one place.
But there’s more. Enigma doesn’t just aggregate, it integrates. That means it has expended tremendous effort to both normalize and link these disparate datasets, making information easier to find, and data easier to analyze.
The potentially disruptive aspect to a database that contains so much public data is that there are quite a few data publishers with very successful businesses built in whole or in part on public datasets.
But beyond the potential for disruption, there’s some other big potential for this (I’ve requested a trial, so at this point I am working with limited information). First, Enigma isn’t (at least for now) trying to create a specific product, e.g. a company profile database. Rather, it’s providing raw data. That will make it less interesting to many buyers of existing data products who want a fast answer with minimum effort. But it also means that Enigma could be a leveraged way for many data publishers to access public data to integrate into their own products, especially since Enigma touts a powerful API.
The other consideration with a product like this is that even with 100,000 datasets, it is inherently broad-based and scatter-shot in its coverage. That makes it far less threatening to vertical market data publishers.
Finally, Enigma has adopted a paid subscription model, so it’s not going to accelerate the commoditization of data by offering itself free to everyone and adopting an ad-supported model.
So from a number of angles, this is a company to watch. I’m eagerly waiting for my trial subscription; I urge you to dig in deep on Enigma as well.