New York – The downsizing of the expert network industry has begun. Business Connect China, a China-based expert network, is merging with Circle of Experts and Tribeca Insights to form a new consolidated expert network, Advantus Global.
At the high water mark, there were over 45 expert networks. By our count, the number has shrunk to 37, of which 7 are cater exclusively to non-financial clients. The business environment for expert networks continues to be hostile, and it is likely that the number of expert networks will shrink further. Usage by financial clients is reportedly down 40% to 60%. Usage by private equity firms, consulting groups and corporations are much less affected, and in some cases growing. However, most expert networks rely on usage by public market investors, making them vulnerable to the current decline in usage.
Business Connect China is using the current turmoil as an opportunity to expand its offering and reposition itself as a global provider. It has quietly launched a new website, rebranding itself as Advantus Global.
The Advantus Global website highlights an acquisition of Circle of Experts, featuring more than 25,000 experts. Circle of Experts was previously owned by Evalueserve, Ltd. which acquired the expert network from Nitron Advisors in May, 2007. Nitron Circle of Experts was originally founded in 2003.
The website also mentions a merger with Tribeca Insights, a U.S. based expert network founded in early 2008. The principal founder of the firm, Mr. Dazhi Chen, was formerly a buy-side technology and telecom analyst at MSD Capital. Mr. Chen has founded a new company, DailyGobble, a social networking site which provides discounts on restaurants. Business Connect China had formed an initial partnership with Tribeca Insights in August 2009.