TMCnet Feature
March 11, 2020

How Vinod Gupta's Database Tech Ventures Remained Relevant In The Golden Age Of Technology

Hailed as one of the most profound advancements for humankind throughout the previous century, the worldwide prevalence of the internet has generated undoubtable cultural shifts, propelled advancements within various sectors, and culminated in a global connectivity never before deemed possible. With swift global growth, the fledgling days of the internet’s presence also generated unbridled possibilities for forward-thinking startups. With increasing numbers of individuals seeking streamlined, seamless, and effective access to information for various purposes, innovative entrepreneurs manifested this burgeoning need into database technology startups, and information technology standouts. Aiming to provide individuals, businesses, and organizations with useful real-time information, these database technology startups aligned perfectly with the consistently growing need for connectivity.

            Early Days Of Database Tech

During those instrumental early days of the world wide web, entrepreneur Vinod Gupta recognized the lack of resources available for effective nationwide business-to-business marketing. As a recent MBA graduate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Gupta entered the workforce post-matriculation in 1971 as a Marketing Research Analyst for mobile home manufacturer Commodore Corporation. Responsible for generating national marketing opportunities for a myriad of companies potentially interested in newly manufactured mobile homes, Gupta was tasked with generating a marketing list of potential clients across the United States. As such a listing was not readily available, Gupta set forth to manually create the needed database. After purchasing every available telephone book in the country, Gupta spent every night compiling a database of all businesses related to the mobile home trade across the country. Upon completion, Gupta recognized the value of such an immediately available database, and offered his employer first rights to purchase the listing.

After his employer passed on the offer, Gupta got a landmark $100 loan from a local bank, and spent the funds on flyers marketing his newly formed database. Immediately, his intuition was proven correct, and Gupta began to receive orders for his database listings. Working nightly, Gupta compiled initial databases on behalf of clients, with continuously growing interest. After a year of ongoing purchases for his innovative products, Gupta dedicated his professional track to this blossoming venture, launching American Business Information in 1972. Focused on meeting the growing national needs of businesses, American Business Information allowed for local entrepreneurs to gain swift access to potential clients, peers, and parties that would be conducive to company growth. With his database information products, Gupta opened the doors for business opportunities, and for nationwide communication between local business owners in similar niche fields.

Within the span of a decade, Gupta’s company effectively categorized the entire contents of every telephone book in the country, with the ability to generate requested content for customers at a moment’s notice. While this may seem rudimentary at present time, the capacity to effectively provide such concise information was groundbreaking prior to the widespread utilization of the internet. Thus, as a leader in the information database business, Gupta’s American Business Information enjoyed continued growth from inception. Enjoying consistent growth, the company became publicly traded on NASDAQ in 1994, and earned over $75 million in annual revenue, breaking the $100 million mark in the following three years.

By this time, the company’s infrastructure included over 1,500 employees, and remained committed to remaining on the forefront of technological advancement. Considered as the most streamlined avenue to gaining access to specialized information, Gupta recognized the need to maintain this status in the face of the public’s growing interest in the early days of the world wide web.

            Globalization’s New Needs

As increased numbers of businesses, and individuals, gained access to the world wide web via personal computers, access to information became available at their fingertips. With growing independence via personal computers with access to the world wide web, early adopters of the internet’s potential began to garner email addresses, websites, and the capacity to conduct needed research independently. While this growing public ability to essentially independently conduct similar research needed to compile database listings could have potentially manifested in a decline in business for Gupta’s American Business Information, the innovative entrepreneur pivoted his offerings to best suit the growing needs of the connected public.

            Recognizing the need to modernize the company’s branding, Gupta renamed American Business Information to the bolder InfoUSA, aligning with the company’s focus on providing business-related database information, as well as information technology useful for personal needs. With growing numbers of individuals preferring to conduct as much business as possible via digital means, Gupta’s InfoUSA digitized operations, and was able to effectively provide database technologies to customers in digital formats, spreadsheets, and email attachments. In this modernized format, customers were able to garner swift access to information in a format that was most conducive to their evolving needs.

While the widespread advent of the internet allowed individuals to search for content independently, Gupta recognized the open availability to provide newly relevant information for usage, such as email address listings, and website listings. While telephone numbers and mailing addresses were previously coveted pieces of information, email addresses and websites became the future of business communication, and Gupta’s ability to capitalize on this growing need early manifested ongoing success for InfoUSA.

As globalization within business, and personal communication, became the norm, Gupta captured the growing desire for people to effectively garner real-time access to information on a global basis, rather than a mere national basis.

            Mergers and Acquisitions

While InfoUSA enjoyed continued growth by pivoting services to meet the evolving needs of clients, Gupta recognized the continued need to implement the newest technologies within the business, benefitting from being at the forefront of innovation within the field. Thus, InfoUSA acquired over 45 startup businesses that enabled the industry giant to successfully gain bespoke technologies, new analytics, and innovative algorithms. Through these acquisitions, InfoUSA partnered with several startups that added value to their operations through new technologies. By working together with smaller startups, InfoUSA was able to remain aggressively forward-moving, and consistently at the forefront of the digital movement.

            Finding New Markets

In order to avoid becoming obsolete, InfoUSA shifted perspectives, and welcomed digitally-based consumers, recognizing their new desires to swiftly garner access to digital data, customer analytics, and resources needed to actively capture desired audiences, and effectively market in the new digital advertising realm. By providing this information for digitally based companies, InfoUSA allowed these companies to avoid outsourcing the practice of data-mining, or relying on in-house staffing for the manpower needed to garner this crucial data. By garnering needed data from InfoUSA, companies were able to then dedicate resources to utilizing this data for effective digital marketing purposes. As a result of continuously pivoting services to meet the evolving needs of customers, Gupta was able to convert potentially threatening globalization and internet access into constructs that worked for his business, and allowed his business to continue to thrive.

            The Future Of Database Tech

Upon the sale of his company, Gupta believed in the future evolution of database technology companies, and sought to parlay his extensive insight into effective business counseling for startups. Thus, he created The Everest Group, a boutique single-office venture capital company that provides ongoing business counseling, liquidity resources, and private equity. Unlike many other venture capital resources, The Everest Group also focuses on reviving failing businesses in the sector, advancing the future of database technology in meaningful ways. With a keen eye for the future of information technology, Gupta’s Everest Group invested in the early successes of industry leaders, including Netflix, Facebook, Yahoo, and Constant Contact (News - Alert).

By recognizing the changing markets, and evolving demands for innovative database technology, Gupta has garnered ongoing success within this evolving field. While the widespread relevance of the internet initially suggested a potential risk for traditional information technology companies, Gupta’s ability to pivot services based on evolving customer needs allowed for his business to thrive within the changing landscape. Serving as a prominent example of the power of pivoting business models alongside technological evolution, Gupta’s foray into the field of database technology is marked by decades of ongoing successes.

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