With A Name Like Hoovers, I’d Be Careful

When Outside the Loop, a Quicker Way to Get In

Hoover’s, a business research unit of Dun & Bradstreet, and Visible Path, a technology company in Foster City, Calif., hope to change that with the introduction of a free service called Hoover’s Connect. It is to offer visitors to Hoovers.com the ability to mine their networks to find helpful connections with prospective clients or business partners.

[…] The service, which is being previewed starting today on Hoovers.com, requires little effort, but it does take a little trust. Users who visit Hoovers.com are shown the site’s typical collection of information regarding businesses, including contact information, sales statistics and key executives.

But those who sign up for Connect can download software from Visible Path that makes note of whom a user messages via e-mail and how frequently (it does not monitor the content of the communications). The service tracks activities within Microsoft Outlook, the dominant business e-mail system, and will eventually include Web-based e-mail systems like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

From there, Connect builds a meta-network of sorts to determine how one is connected to other businesspeople across the country. […]