Knowledge Generation Bureau
|Privately held company|
|Industry||Mobile search, directory assistance, and several other related industries including kgbdeals|
|Headquarters||New York City, United States|
|United States, Canada|
|Robert Pines - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer|
|Products||118 118, Texperts, 542542 (kgbkgb)|
|Subsidiaries||kgb USA, kgb.com, kgbkgb
118//Media, The Number 118 118
118 218 Le Numero
118 50, Conduit
Die Nummer 18 18
892 892 Il Numero
Conduit, 118 811
Unnamed Canadian service
kgb (stylized in lower case) is a privately held, New York-based company that provides directory assistance and enhanced information services across Europe and North America. It describes itself as "the world’s largest independent provider of directory assistance and enhanced information services." Founded in 1992 by Robert Pines under the name INFONXX, the company rebranded in 2008. The term knowledge generation bureau is from an advertising copy line, and is not the name of the company, which is kgb.
In 2003, after the UK yellow pages directory market has been opened, kgb launched 118 118 (UK), a UK directory enquiries provider that assists customers with telephone number enquiries and general queries.
After the success of 118 118 in the UK, kgb launched 118 218 in France when the French market has been opened. Thanks to a very good advertising campaign, it became quickly and is still the most used directory assistance service in France with around 200,000 calls each day on the phone number. It's 118218.fr website also acquire a very good place on the Internet and was in the top 100 French website based on traffic amount.
In December 2008, kgb acquired Texperts, a United Kingdom-based firm, in order to benefit from their "innovative software platform and industry experience." Shortly afterwards, in January 2009, kgb launched a new suite of products in the United States, providing answers to customers’ questions through multiple platforms. The first is through a mobile search service known as 542542 (kgbkgb). It launched January 5, 2009, following the launch of the similar 118118 "Ask Us Anything" service in the United Kingdom. In February 2013, after investigation by the US Department of Labor, a judge ordered kgb to pay $1.3 million to internet researchers who had been sharply underpaid.
The company has also entered the internet group buying space with a business called kgbdeals. kgbdeals seeks to offer lifestyle deals to consumers in the US, UK, France and Italy.
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542542 is an "Ask Anything 2-way text service", whereby United States customers can submit questions via SMS (text) message for a cost of $1.49 per question. They will then receive another text message containing the answer. Questions are not limited to traditional information assistance, but may cover any facet of knowledge or even speculation. The customer is also responsible for any applicable mobile carrier SMS service fees.
In order to answer questions, the service makes use of both human internet researchers (whom the company refers to as "kgb_ Special Agents") and automated keyword matching. For simpler queries, such as directory assistance, show times, or weather, answers are generated automatically via software that matches keywords in customers' questions to a database. Answers generated this way are then verified by a human before being delivered to the customer. More complex queries are answered entirely by people.
Class action lawsuit
In January 2013, kgb USA settled to pay $1.3 million in unpaid minimum wage and overtime wages to 14,000 current and former employees. The lawsuit alleged that from January 19, 2009 to December 4, 2012, kgb USA repeatedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by (1) misclassifying the Special Agents as independent contractors instead of employees, (2) failing to pay minimum wage and overtime amounts, and (3) failing to make, keep, and preserve adequate and accurate employment-related records of the “Special Agents.”
- Hawkins, Joanna (February 12, 2013). "US Labor Department obtains consent judgment to recover $1.3 million in back wages for more than 14,500 workers of kgb USA Inc.". US Department of Labor. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "542542 -- What is 542542 (kgbkgb)?". kgb_. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- Suddath, Claire (February 3, 2009). "Answers for 50 Cents: Testing the New KGB". Time.
- "kgb is hiring "Special Agents"". meilynn.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
0.05 (USD) for each validation response – answer automatically populates from our Knowledge Database and is forwarded on by the Special Agent