SafeGraph: Selling Data as a Service

Case Solution

Ramana Nanda, Abhishek Nagaraj, Allison M. Ciechanover
Harvard Business School ()

In January 2021, the CEO of SafeGraph, a four-year-old startup selling data as a service, looked to the future. His goal was to become the most reliable source of data on a physical location. The company provided points of interest (POI) and pedestrian traffic data for nearly 7 million businesses in the US and Canada from a variety of vendors, and then tagged the data’s attributes, such as brand affiliation. and how long consumers spend on the site. The company sold this data to nearly 100 clients in the advertising, retail and financial services sectors. Customers like Verizon, Sysco, and Goldman Sachs used it to better understand rapidly changing patterns of consumer behavior. At the start of the COVID19 pandemic, the company offered government agencies free access to its data through the COVID19 data consortium to help them understand pandemic behavior and make policy decisions. Almost a year after the health crisis began and with the introduction of a vaccine, SafeGraph had to decide how to develop the COVID19 data consortium. Perhaps the data that is offered for free should soon become a paid model, albeit on a subsidized basis? Overall, how should the team prioritize the government sector in its mix of corporate customer segments, and how would that affect the business model and pricing?

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