We’re all getting used to the idea that our personal information information is now public to the extent that we share it on social networks and elsewhere on the Web. Corporate data about people’s roles and functions within different organizations is similarly becoming increasingly public. All you need to do is search on LinkedIn to get a person’s entire work history or Jigsaw to find their direct contact information. Now you can add TheOfficialBoard, a contact database which goes one step further. It shows the organization charts for 20,000 of the largest companies, so you can not only look up an executive like Mark Zuckerberg but also see who reports to him or her.
Org charts are not always the most reliable indicator of power within a company, but they do serve as a handy way to visualize the power relationships within specific corporate networks. At launch, TheOfficialBoard is hit or miss in terms of its comprehensiveness and accuracy. (See Google. Where is Marissa Mayer? Does Joshua Schachter really report directly to Eric Schmidt? Update: he doesn’t). But it will get better over time. Like Jigsaw, it relies on its members to fill out the data about each company. And most of the detailed information is obscured unless you either add three contacts, or you can pay $100 a year for premium access. Both contact data or cash can be traded in for virtual currency, which then can be used to access the data. This data exchange model is also similar to Jigsaw’s, over which Michael once had a hissy fit.
But TheOfficialBoard takes pains to ensure the accuracy of its data beyond simply relying on the contributions of its members. Every e-mail is kept private. Members can only contact the executive through TheOfficialBoard, much in the same way LinkedIn works. Furthermore, it checks every executive e-mail address that is entered into the system and encourages the named executives at each company to verify the information. (The “contact an executive” feature has not yet been activated, the company is waiting until it has amassed tens of thousands of verified emails). Currently, there are 200,000 executives in the system across 80 counties. The service also offers alerts by company or individual executive. The alerts are sent out whenever there is a change in job positions.
TheOfficialBoard is based in France. It was founded by Thomas Lot, the former general manager of Apple France and VP Europe of Amazon. The site was launched with $150,000 in seed capital.
Update: It turns out Forbes.com also has an Org Chart Wiki, which I am told was something Roger McNamee pushed for after Elevation Partners took a stake in Forbes Media. To be honest, it looks like a half-hearted effort and is hard on the eyes. The challenge for all of these services is getting people with the correct information to give it up. For too many people, the incentive simply isn’t there.