Having been involved in this sector for over fifteen years now, the rate of change in the market dynamics continues to surprise me—from its early years when MarkMonitor and NetNames clearly led the space for several years, then seeing well-funded startups such as Yellow Brand Protection and Incopro challenge that, followed by a period of heavy M&A, it is now extremely diverse.
This is confusing for both potential customers and investors who continue to be drawn to a sector that sees double-digit growth and meets the test of dealing with an unsolved business-critical problem that only gets more important as the world goes increasingly online. Throw in new problems, such as fake NFTs and related marketplaces, and we have an interesting but confusing space.
In order to simplify matters, I am therefore dividing my commentary into a number of categories:
Market Leaders — these are the companies that have leadership in terms of market share (by revenue or client numbers) and contribute to the thought leadership in the space. They have global coverage in terms of sales and service and attempt to cover most of the common use cases—anti-counterfeiting, IP abuse on websites and social media, fake websites, digital content piracy, etc.
Challengers — these are the vendors that are aiming to fill that broad requirement but do not yet have the market share, coverage or recognition so far.
Legacy vendors — companies that still hold significant market share but whose solutions and customer base are waning.
Specialists — over the last few years, it has become clear that solving the whole set of issues in the online space cost-effectively may be too much for one vendor, so businesses have developed that focus on solving one significant problem extremely well. An acceptable user strategy may be to deploy a number of these for a large global brand or just to address the one problem that is doing significant damage to a smaller entity.