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Have friends in the real world?

Pursway probably knows who they are.

The Waltham, Massachusetts- and Israel-based company is releasing its Pursway Connect service today. In short: The service finds your friends and sends their names and addresses to a client company as marketing prospects.

Actually, it may have already found your friends, since it currently has “friended” — in a new sense — more than 150 million North Americans.

“Friends buy what their friends buy,” CEO David Ellenberger told VentureBeat. “What we’re saying [to marketers] is these are people who are friends of your customers.”

The assumption, then, is that your friends more or less purchase the kinds of things you do, even if you have an eclectic social circle.

“People are lookalikes,” he said. “They tend to have the same interests and like the same things.”

The company says that this friends-of-friends marketing — not anonymous friends, but their names and addresses — “will produce a 50 percent or better” return-on-investment in many cases than the original list of customers.

Not browsing behavior

Using machine learning and anti-terrorism technology first developed by Israeli intelligence, Pursway mines mostly public data to figure out who has a friend relationship with you — where “friend” can also mean family members or acquaintances.

“A lot is found in the ‘long tail’ of the Web,” Ellenberger told us, referring to bits of data that can “determine these people have children who went to school together,” or those people live near each other.

Public profiles on Facebook and elsewhere are part of the mix, but only part. There are also alumni sites, social club sites, and all those other data trails people leave these days. The company says it buys virtually no data that details relationships.

“And it’s not based on browsing behavior,” Ellenberger noted.

Pursway’s clients provide it with a list of its current customers’ names and zip codes. Pursway then returns a much larger, flat list of names and street addresses that represent all of the friends of all the existing customers, put together. There is no breakdown, for instance, of Joe’s friends, but they are in the bigger list somewhere.

Friends cannot opt-out through Pursway, he said, because the opt-out would need to come from the client marketing companies. Ellenberger dismissed any privacy issue, noting that it’s public data and that it shows no one-to-one relationships between you and your friends.

Pursway’s clients, including Comcast, Orange, and Sony, have used the company’s PIVO data analysis service to find, for instance, the most influential customers in their existing customer base. The company has previously raised about $19 million from Battery Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners.

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