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Peerlyst to Disrupt the Traditional Industry Research Model

RSA interview with Limor Elbaz, the founder and CEO of Peerlyst.com

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what is Peerlyst all about and what do you do?

Limor Elbaz: I'm Limor Elbaz the founder and CEO of Peerlyst.com. We've launched a product-centric social network for Enterprise IT professionals and we want to bring the power of social networks to IT decision making.

Because of their experience with consumer applications, Enterprise IT decision-makers are demanding a social buying experience that includes unbiased product reviews by trusted peer users, insights based on firsthand product experience, and new ways to connect to peers in their industry who have already implemented products in their business.

What are you launching at RSA?

Elbaz: We are launching our website Peerlyst.com for Information Security Professionals. Peerlyst is the world's first social site that fosters community around IT products. The website gives enterprise technology decision makers comprehensive product information from a range of sources, including the one they value most: their peers' firsthand experience with IT solutions.

Peerlyst provides a unique, trusted social buying experience for enterprise technology products and services, using the same capabilities that people are familiar with from their personal social networks. Peerlyst combines LinkedIn-like product pages (PeerPagesTM) with user-generated product ratings (PeerRatingsTM) of the key product features that are most important to IT decision makers.

Peerlyst's social features, such as the ability to follow products, will give users an ongoing feed of pertinent information over a product's life span. That includes reviews and comments from other Peerlyst users; technical content from vendors; and product-related articles, discussions, files, and videos from the Web.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them? What is the biggest challenge you face right now in telling your story and winning over new clients?

Elbaz: Our target audience are IT decision-makers (CISOs, Directors of Information Security, Application and Network Security Managers) who need to an effective way to learn from their peers what works and doesn't with the products they are considering.  What IT pros want is a reality check based on the crowdsourced experience of many other users.

Our biggest challenge is getting new Information Security folks to try out our site. We are building our social media capabilities and as of today we have over 700 Information Security pros who follow us on Twitter.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on market trends...

Elbaz: It's hard to keep up with all of the changes, but mobile solutions, BYOD and next generation firewalls are interesting.  The idea of Peerlyst is to help our users share information so that they can help each other to keep abreast of what's new and what works best.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Elbaz: Peerlyst is completely viral.  Once you join you can invite your peers to join too.  We've also built familiar social networking capabilities into our product pages.  Our users can easily socialize their review of a product or comments that they make.  They can also upload documents and videos to share with the community.

What's the business model? How will you make money?

Elbaz: Peerlyst is free for Information Security professionals to join and use.  We make money by providing InfoSec tech vendors an analytics feed based on product information we have found on the web.  We respect our users' privacy and do not provide vendors with our users information unless a user decides to click the contact vendor button on a product page.

Who are your competitors?

Elbaz: Our biggest competitor is for IT users to continue to rely on services like Gartner that don't use or benchmark the products and really can't capture the firsthand experience users have with a product.  Also Gartner and their peers do not cover smaller vendors who may be best of breed, but do not have significant revenues.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Elbaz: We have developed state-of-the-art information extraction algorithms that scour the Web for product information and generate organized product pages called PeerPagesTM.  No one else we know of does this.

How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Elbaz: We have developed state-of-the-art information extraction algorithms that scour the Web for product information and generate organized product pages called PeerPagesTM.  No one else we know of does this.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Elbaz: We disrupt traditional analyst firms that sell syndicated services to IT departments.

Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Elbaz: We're a team of IT and product professionals, developers, and designers. Like most people today, we use social sites to find great restaurants and see how people rate consumer products. But there was a big gap in our work lives. The process of evaluating, selecting, and keeping track of the tech products that drive our businesses was stuck in the 20th century.

Why were we spending hours searching for information on the Internet, poring over dozens of vendor white papers and analyst reviews? Did we really need to build spreadsheet after spreadsheet to compare products? And why wasn't there someplace we could go to see our peers' reviews of technology solutions, or to reach out to them and ask questions?

We created the idea for Peerlyst in 2011 and are launching now.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Elbaz: We are truly web-based.  Our web site delivers our product.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Elbaz: Adding more social capabilities for our users, such as the ability to collaborate on a specific Information Security topic.

Are you targeting a first VC round? If yes when and what will you use the funds for?

How much money is being sought?

Elbaz: We are in discussion with top tier VCs now for our A round.

Peerlyst is a social media platform designed to give enterprise technology decision makers the unbiased information they need to buy, and make the best use of, IT solutions. The network enables a new social buying experience based on peer-to-peer interaction regarding technology products, services, and integration. Peerlyst is designed to guarantee that users get honest information about enterprise technology from actual users and experts. The company has offices in Silicon Valley.

Information on Peerlyst can be found at www.peerlyst.com or by following the company on Twitter @Peerlyst.

Thank you for your time!

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel, Tech blogger and VP of Socialradius/San Francisco-San Jose. She mainly writes about B2B solutions, social media and open source software. SocialRadius is a full-service social media marketing agency, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The agency is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, social media outreach and strategy.