Private equity (PE), venture capital (VC), and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) professionals rely on data and analytics platforms to drive their investment decisions and stay ahead in a competitive market. In this blog post, we will review and compare four prominent platforms: Pitchbook, Axial, Crunchbase, and CapitalIQ.
We chose these four platforms because they are frequently mentioned in discussions with dealmakers in corporate development, M&A, PE/VC, search funds and even family offices but the differences between them are not always well understood.
By examining their features, data coverage, search capabilities and pricing, we aim to provide a comprehensive evaluation of these platforms and help professionals make informed choices for their investment needs.
Pitchbook is a renowned platform that offers comprehensive data coverage and advanced analytics tools for PE, VC, and M&A professionals. It provides detailed company information, financials, funding history, deal activity, and market trends. Pitchbook’s advanced search and screening capabilities allow users to filter data based on various parameters, enabling efficient deal sourcing and competitive analysis.
The platform’s customizable data visualizations and collaborative features enhance data interpretation and team collaboration. Additionally, Pitchbook offers real-time news alerts and market insights to keep professionals informed.
PitchBook has a desktop application, a mobile app, an Excel plugin, an API that many customers use to integrate with their CRM system and a chrome extension.
Pitchbook is great for comps
We found PitchBook particularly strong for the following use cases:
- Getting detailed data on what happened in the market in terms of deal activity, investor activity, transaction prices / multiples and related financials (quite valuable for comps)
- Validating potential targets by looking up management, ownership status, board membership, investors, founding date and financial information
- Looking up details on investors, including assets under management and preferred deal types
Pitchbook isn't great for sourcing
While there are over 3.5 million private companies in their database and over 100,000 public companies, since every other Pitchbook subscriber (nearly 500,000 investors, over 25,000 private equity firms and over 55,000 venture capital firms) can also see the same list of companies, we didn’t find it particularly useful for deal sourcing. In our experience there were no new deals to be found in Pitchbook and it is really more of a retrospective of what has already happened in the market.
For small teams, Pitchbook can be quite expensive.
Only annual licenses
$7000 USD per year per seat
Minimum 5 seats
Possible to negotiate $20k USD per year for 3 seats on a 2 year commitment
Axial is a deal network and transaction platform designed to connect PE firms, strategic acquirers, and business owners. It facilitates deal origination, buyer-seller matching, and due diligence. While Axial and Pitchbook are often mentioned by investors as interchangeable options, they are actually quite different.
Axial does have industry data coverage including detailed company profiles, deal history, financials, and industry trends however, it is primarily geared toward deal sourcing via its deal network. The quality and comprehensiveness of company data is not what you get with Pitchbook.
The Axial platform also offers a search feature that allows users to find potential investment opportunities based on specific criteria. Axial’s networking capabilities and deal management tools streamline the deal-making process and foster connections between investors and business owners.
Axial pricing is tied to deal sourcing:
New axial accounts needed to be funded in order to see opportunities; it costs about $1k USD to fund the first 20 sourced opportunities. It is pay-as-you- go at $100 USD per deal to see new opportunities thereafter.
There is a success fee of approximately 1% of a closed deal (we have heard that this has gone up recently)
Volume discounts are available: $2k for 40 deals, $5k for 125, $7.5k uncapped (all USD).
Axial deals are not proprietary
We found that many deals available in Axial are also found on low cost aggregator sites like Kumo.
Occasionally, Axial has larger deals posted by small investment banks but in our experience these are generally not great quality deals and perhaps they landed at Axial because they didn’t previously attract interest from serious buyers.
Overall, we found there isn’t a lot of value from Axial beyond what we could achieve through traditional, direct sourcing activities, because the quality of deals was poor and they aren’t proprietary. Perhaps some will find value in Axial’s data for research purposes (i.e. because it is less expensive than Pitchbook).
Crunchbase is similar to Pitchbook in the sense that it offers data coverage and analytics tools for PE, VC, and M&A professionals. It also provides detailed company information, financials, funding history, deal activity, and market trends.
Crunchbase identifies three core use cases for its services:
Discover companies that match your ideal target prospects
Identify individuals to reach out to with verified contact data
Connect with decision-makers within Crunchbase
It’s important to note that like Pitchbook, you won’t find new deals on Crunchbase. They compile and report information that has already happened.
Crunchbase data is less comprehensive than Pitchbook
When we compared the data in Crunchbase with the data in Pitchbook, we found Pitchbook to be more comprehensive and accurate. This is likely because Crunchbase has a large research team that gathers and validates the data whereas Pitchbook is primarily using automation and crowdsourcing to get their data. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the relative pricing of the two offerings as Pitchbook is considerably more expensive.
Pitchbook pricing is simple, transparent and visible directly on their website. They have three pricing options:
Starter – $29 USD/user/month – search volume and monitoring limits
Pro – $49 USD/user/month – higher threshold on search volume and monitoring limits
Enterprise – for high search and monitoring limits and API access
Overall, if you are a small team or individual looking to do industry research, we think Crunchbase is good value for the price. However, if you need to do more comprehensive industry research and are sensitive to potential inaccuracies in the data, it’s better to pay for Pitchbook.
CapitalIQ, a product of S&P Global Market Intelligence, is a comprehensive financial data platform that caters to a wide range of industries, including PE, VC, and M&A. It offers extensive company and industry data, financial statements, market research, and news updates.
Note that CapitalIQ is comparable to Crunchbase and Pitchbook but is not primarily a deal sourcing platform, like Axial. It is also comparable to Pitchbook in terms of data comprehensiveness and quality.
CapitalIQ also provides research capabilities, enabling users to filter company data based on various criteria. Its analytical tools allow for in-depth financial analysis and benchmarking.
However, CapitalIQ’s focus extends beyond the PE, VC, and M&A sectors, which means it has less specialized coverage compared to dedicated industry platforms. For example, in our opinion, Pitchbook and Crunchbase do a better job of presenting company information, including financials, investors and management, in a context that is relevant to investors.
CapitalIQ pricing is similar to Pitchbook pricing. They do not publish a price list but the following data points will give an indication of the quantum to expect:
$18000 / user per year at 4 users
$5000 / user per year at 25 users
$1500 / user per year at 400 users
Axial is the odd one out in this comparison as it is the only platform that is intended primarily for connecting investors to potential deals. There are no new deals to be found in the other three platforms as they compile and report information that has already happened.
Pitchbook, Crunchbase, and CapitalIQ each offer distinct features and capabilities that cater to the needs of PE, VC, and M&A professionals. Pitchbook stands out with its comprehensive data coverage in a platform that is designed for investors. CapitalIQ also offers access to extensive company data however, not as well curated for investor consumption. Finally, Crunchbase has a large database of company data curated for investors but it is less comprehensive than Pitchbook or CapitalIQ, albeit at a much lower price.
Other platforms worth considering (and that we will aim to review in future posts), include: Privsource, Captarget and CBInsights.
Ultimately, the choice of platform depends on specific requirements, preferences, and budget considerations. Professionals should carefully evaluate the features, data coverage, search capabilities, and usability of each platform to determine which aligns best with their investment