It's flattering to see others appreciate our design and data visualization. Here is one YC company that appreciated us a bit too much.

By Anand Sanwal, CEO, Co-founder, Customer Service (@asanwal)

We’re really proud of our data and technology at CB Insights. We’re also extremely excited about what we’ve done on the design and data visualization front to help our clients tell stories and get answers from the data.

And now it seems others are excited by it as well.

Yesterday, a Y Combinator company launched that has a striking resemblance to our own product. You can see screenshots below. Of course, using the exact color scheme and text could be oddly coincidental.

But on top of what is a copy, 12 people from the company have signed up for a CB Insights free trial since September 2014. They include the YC company’s CEO, Designer, Head of Product, Product Manager and Senior Ruby Developer among others. Our terms of service which all these users agreed to prohibits this explicitly – You may not access the Services if You are Our direct competitor, except with Our prior written consent. In addition, You may not access Our Services for purposes of monitoring their availability, performance or functionality, or for any other benchmarking or competitive purposes.

 

The CEO also admitted to me via Twitter that they took CB Insights as a reference to launch fast. So copying to launch fast is ok it seems?  He does thankfully clarify that other than the design, their site is very different (phew).

 

TechList asia copies CB Insights

He goes on to clarify later that “only the way data is displayed” was copied.

 

techlist asia cb insight copy

 

While we’ve had others inspired by what we do in the past, this was one of the more egregious cases of a line being crossed from inspiration to plagiarism.

On the bright side, this does wonders for our ego, and we’re flattered that these guys liked CB Insights so much that they wanted one just like it for themselves.

Here are the screenshots. Take a look at our heatmap from Industry Analytics or Investor Analytics and theirs. The color scheme and even the text underneath is copied verbatim from CB Insights.

Heat Map Comparison

And here is an industry trends chart from Industry Analytics as well and one of theirs.  Even the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) above the graph are the same.

Chart Comparison

We’re trying to build a data company you’ll love by combining the best data with great usability and fantastic service. Our customers think we’re on the right track. If you’re not trying to copy us, you should create a free trial below and check us out.

The topic also generated some discussion on Hacker News.

Copier image from rnv123

  • Martin

    I completely understand that you guys are feeling wronged by this; if this were me I would feel the same way. But this public shaming? Gross. As someone who loved your blog content and following you guys on Twitter, the last two days have been nearly unbearable as you try and publicly shame this guy, who despite the plagiarism seems like an incredibly nice and reasonable person?

    Couldn’t this be much more professionally handled privately, especially with Y Combinator, as I know 100% those guys care a lot about reputation and doing the right thing.

    Maybe this guy just doesn’t know any better or maybe he had 100% ill intentions, but whatever it is, somehow you guys come out looking like jerks. I just want to let you know I’m really disappointed in how you’re handling this, which might not mean much to you guys, but it leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

    -M

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Martin – thanks for the comment.

    The article was out on TechCrunch with prominent people tweeting it and there was no reference to us as the basis for their data visualizations. We’ve worked hard so we felt it was important to say something. When folks from the media reached out for comment and someone submitted a link to Hacker News, it made sense to present our view.

    It’s worth remembering that this company has raised more money than we have from investors (we’ve raised zero), is now part of YC and used our dataviz to launch fast and get press. They also had 12 people log in to our service over time who then used our service to build something competitive.

    Unfortunately, ignorance is not really a credible or reasonable excuse. We think it is reasonable to call them out on it.

    Anand

  • DSGN N2ZST

    I like how he tries to justify by saying they also looked at other sites while on their copying spree. They didn’t JUST copy you guys. Yuck.

  • Jon

    Speaking frankly, your screenshots seem to me to be as much a rip off of Google Analytics as those other guy’s are of you. At least they had the guts to say they copied you.

  • Brad

    For what it’s worth, I’m betting Martin is affiliated with the YC company. Good job calling out some good ol’ fashioned plagiarism.

  • haxornews lurker

    But this is YC Company you’re dealing with. Eventually, you’ll be “bad guy” here, many of their SFBay hackers friends will accuse you for shaming, bullying, etc etc etc.

  • Miduga

    Martin you are exceptionally daft and its obvious you’re from the infringing company.

  • Jesus

    Isn’t the javascript code used by both mostly free ? Pretty sure you can find tons of visualizations on D3.js and many people will use them right out of the box with minimal customization. Having a good U/X is important but that cannot be the only strategic advantage of a business. Unless you are someone like apple who tries for a patent on breathing, eating and pooping.

  • Adrian

    @Martin, seriously? are you out of your mind? Stealing is gross, if this happened to me I would be outraged and would absolutely want the entire world to know that these people are nothing but thieving scumbags. They have admitted to it publicly on twitter. They are the ones who should be ashamed and I salute this team for doing the right thing and calling them out instead of letting this slide by.

  • http://web.elastic.org/~fche/ Frank Ch. Eigler

    Good on you for stopping at disbursing embarrassment rather than grasping for bases of a lawsuit.

  • LongTimeLurker1stTimePoster

    “Much more professionally handled privately” is your opinion, but that goes out the window when dealing with blatant theft and competition in the same sphere. The only way to get reconciliation is through private AND public discourse. You do know an actual lawsuit becomes a matter of public record? That’s how the world found out that GoldiBlox ripped off the Beastie Boys and had to apologize…publicly…

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/goldieblox-apologizes-to-beasties-we-have-learned-a-valuable-lesson-20140319

  • César Gómez

    “Lazy plagiarize” is redundant: all copycats are lazy by default.

  • https://exponential.io/ Akbar Ahmed

    It is perfectly appropriate and professional for a person to publicly defend his/her company when its work has been copied.