Every evening at around 6 p.m., over 300,000 people get a love letter in their inbox. After some charts, random news bits and some snark, it ends with an overfamiliar (and some might say downright creepy) sign off: “I Love You.”
That’s the trademark of Anand Sanwal, the 44-year-old CEO and co-founder of a B2B data company, CB Insights, and self-proclaimed introvert.
“The newsletter affords me the ability to be a little bit outlandish,” he said. “In person, I prefer to be anonymous. In the little geek circle we play in, it’s become tougher to be that way.”
Sanwal learned in the company’s early days not to overlook the person behind someone’s professional identity. The key for Sanwal was bringing personality into the work he did.
“When we thought of our clients as big organizations we sort of lost the people who work at those companies that are our clients,” Sanwal recalled. “People who aren’t thinking about their jobs all day long, who are interested in pop culture and other things.”
The newsletter used to be just graphs and data and no commentary. One evening, over dinner, Sanwal’s co-founder, Jonathan Sherry, made a suggestion: “Why don’t you write the way we chat in our internal chat rooms and let’s see how that goes.’”
Sanwal did, and the newsletter exploded. With the right tone, humor and a hint of irreverence, Sanwal and his team have made data fun and developed character that connects with its readership. The newsletters highlight terrible charts on the Internet, pick through troves of CB Insights data and data visualization and even include hate letters from readers.