Private Equity

Top Company Research & Origination Platforms for PE in 2023

A thorough look at the top platforms, their capabilities and pros/cons

Software enabled deal research and sourcing has become more commonplace in recent years with a number of platforms using data science and machine learning to generate better top of the funnel ideas for PE investors. In this article, we wanted to pull a comprehensive review of the top platforms out there on the market (as of Q4 2023), including their pros/cons and prices:

A good way to segment this market based on a 2x2 of (i) asset focus (Public vs Private) and (i) the nature of the funds using the platform. In our experience the private equity universe can be crudely broken down into three broad categories:

  • Growth / late stage VC investors
  • Mid-market private equity, and
  • Large Cap PE and large multi-asset or multi-strategy funds

Each of the groups have their own needs and thus require a slightly different mix of platforms and data sources. Lets take a closer look at the individual platforms themselves:

A) Private Company Research Platforms

When it comes to selecting the right private company research and origination platform, it is helpful to consider the most common use case for the investor. If the goal is to look up information on a particular target that an M&A adviser has mentioned, Company Research platforms such as Pitchbook or GainPro are the best as they contain a deep amount of information on a given universe of companies. Alternatively, if the goal is to "filter" a large amount of companies into a small subset of off-market opportunities to reach out to, deal origination platforms are better suited for that as approach.

Note of caution: In our experience, the likes of SourceScrub or Grata, are only effective when paired with a very robust outbound origination effort - e.g., hiring 2-3 associates to do cold emails and calls with prospective companies. This investment approach was pioneered by the likes of Summit and TA, and is not appropriate or well suited for most PE funds.

1. PitchBook

The most established in this category and used by large cap, mid market and growth investors. The platform primarily focuses on private companies, however has built out a fairly robust comps and financials module for listed companies as well in the recent years. They also offer industry thought pieces and market maps, which are helpful for sector research / coverage.

  • Pros: Probably the best all-around platform for PE company research. Can be also used for origination as well as has good filtering / sorting capabilities
  • Cons: Limited coverage - will not have all of the companies in a given geo, particularly for mid-market or lower mid-market investors; Expensive.
  • Price: $20-35k for entry level package of 2-3 licenses

2. GainPro

A recent new-comer to the market, GainPro was started by a group of ex-McK consultants in Europe. The platform has a very clean user interface and focuses on commercially relevant analysis of the target - e.g., ownership, market, competitors, financials, etc. GainPro also allows to research markets (e.g., industrials in Europe), which is helpful for thematic investors.

  • Pros: Very useful for researching and truly understanding the target company. CDD-style of analysis.
  • Cons: Limited coverage with very European focus. A lot of gaps in the long tail of mid-market targets, particularly in the US

3. ListAlpha

ListAlpha has a unique Company Research + CRM offering which allows to research any company in the world based on publicly available information and 3rd party APIs. The platform combines new deal discovery with deal flow tracking, which enables for investors to see new deals in the context of prior deal flow and advisers that are known to the fund. ListAlpha also integrates with Crunchbase and PitchBook, allowing deep dive into financial, valuation and ownership information.

  • Pros: Unique positioning as a deal research and tracking platform. Innovative use of AI and third party API integrations
  • Cons: No coverage of listed assets (e.g., comps analysis, valuation)
  • Price: $20-40k depending on fund size

4. Crunchbase

The freemium version of Pitchbook focused on VC-backed start-ups. Don’t expect any proprietary deal flow here,  however as a basic research and screening tool for VC funds, this platform is great. More applicable for VC and growth rather than PE.

  • Pros: Good out of the box reference point for prior funding rounds and investors of start-ups
  • Cons: Not suitable for PE as only tracks a few basic data points
  • Price: Freemium with a pro subscription at $30 pm

5. Dealroom

VC and start-up-focused platform similar to Crunchbase , however more premium and with more robust financials and data points available. Frequently used by VC funds and corporates.

  • Pros: Good out of the box reference point for prior funding rounds and investors of start-ups
  • Cons: Not suitable for PE as only tracks a few basic data points

6. Traxcn

Indian-based platform started by two ex-Sequoia investors. Similar UI and focus to Dealroom, however with a wider range of offered functionality, including a rudimentary CRM module.

  • Pros: Cheaper pricing than most of the alternatives
  • Cons: More clunky and sometime cluttered interface. Some long tail coverage gaps.
  • Price: as low as $5k for entry level package for 2-3 investors

7. Sourcescrub

The more established of the two origination platforms, having been founded in 2014 by Tyler Fair, who has previously build a bespoke origination solution for his employer (Serent Capital).  Great industry classification features and ability to search companies based on past conference attendance.

  • Pros: Leading origination platform for off-market deals, particularly in the US
  • Cons: Only suitable for a particular style of investing (heavy outbound motion)
  • Price: $30-40k + for entry level license

B) Research and Expert-Based Platforms

1. Tegus

Expert-interview based platform that allows to access the transcripts of expert calls conducted by other investors. Althrough initially popularized by hedge fund customers, the company has been increasingly expanding in the private equity as well and has been investing in coverage of late stage VC-assets that are likely to list.

  • Pros: Great interface. Large library of qualitative materials and insights on companies.
  • Cons: Poor long tail coverage, particularly for mid market. Lack of financials or standardized fields that are available for private companies

2. AlphaSense

Another public markets platform historically very strong in equity research, which has recently been expanding into private markets. The software has great search capabilities and UI that allows to cut across thousands of documents to find the right mention or sentiment on a target. AlphaSense has also recently started offering expert network-like transcripts that allow to research individual companies and markets.

  • Pros: Great interface and very powerful search
  • Cons: Listed equity focus and high price point

C) Integrated Financial Data Platforms

These platforms focus their attention in the realm of Investment Banking and M&A and offer primarily structured financial data for listed companies and securities (e.g., bonds, commodities, etc.). In PE, they are more applicable to the large cap side of the market, where valuation analysis is more relevant (e.g., take-over situations) and listed competitors are generally more common. These are industrial grade platforms (e.g., Factset employs 10k staff globally) with extensive data feeds, API connections and Excel plugins, however they do tend to suffer from an ageing user interface and tech stack given just how long they have been around.

1. CapIQ

Founded in 1999, Capital IQ started as a provider of software and analytics related to public markets. It was sold to McGraw-Hill Financial in 2004 for more than $200 million and has since been part of their portfolio. Not as robust as Factset in terms of functionality, but is considered a standard entry level piece of software for any financial institution no matter the size. The user interface has not aged well and is slowly starting to resemble a mix of Bloomberg and Windows 95.

2. Factset

Founded in 1978 (!) in New York, the company has grown into a very diversified platform with $2bn+ of revenues and a number of products catering to both buy side and sell side of the market. Very strong excel integration functionalities, which make it a standard choice for investment banking M&A departments (which then as a result gets frequently carried over into PE funds who hire from banks)

More Insights

Request a demo of ListAlpha

We tailor your onboarding experience to match what you're looking for. Tell us more about yourself and your team to help us out.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
DenyAccept All