London Expert Networks Challenging US Rivals

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London-based expert networks Cognolink and AlphaSights have been growing quickly, benefiting from a diverse client mix, geographic expansion, and limited impact from insider trading investigations.  Both firms are now proactively expanding their business, challenging US-based expert networks on their own turf.

Cognolink Ltd. is a London-based expert network founded in 2007 by Emmanuel Tahar, an ex-Bain consultant.  From the beginning, the firm has focused on a diverse client base, targeting management consultants and private equity along with hedge funds.  It also prioritized geographic expansion, establishing a US subsidiary in 2010, a Shanghai-based subsidiary in 2011, and subsidiaries in Hong Kong and India in 2012.

These strategies were rewarded in 2013 when the firm grew nearly 60%, from £8.7 million (US$14 million) to £13.9 million (US$22 million).  The firm is well established in the UK, where its business grew 74% in 2013 and is growing rapidly in the US and Asia (80%) albeit from a small base. Cognolink forecasts strong growth in 2014 “with profitability and cash inflows”.

Cognolink booked $6.7 million in revenues in the US in 2013, which represented almost a third of the company’s revenues, although it still has captured only a small portion of the overall US spend on expert networks.

AlphaSights Ltd. was founded in 2008 by two German entrepreneurs and, although not as large as Cognolink, has also been expanding geographically.  In addition to its London home office, it has offices in New York, Hong Kong and Dubai.

AlphaSights recently moved to new space in NY, promoting a hi-tech inspired atmosphere, not too far from Gerson Lehrman Group’s swank new offices near Grand Central.

AlphaSight’s New York Office

Neither Cognolink nor AlphaSights can rival GLG’s size or global footprint.  GLG’s revenues have once again topped $300 million, regaining past glory after declines triggered by insider trading prosecutions.  The London-based expert networks were largely immune from those pressures.  Now, having established solid bases in London, they are expanding outward.  Although dwarfed by GLG’s scale, they are aggressive competitors to all the US-based expert networks.

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