Match-Backed App Aims to Be Mobile-First Alternative to LinkedIn

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Jan 18, 2018

There seems to be no shortage of mobile apps hoping to dethrone LinkedIn. Never mind the fact that LinkedIn is already LinkedIn for mobile, providing a pretty solid native app for users to compliment its desktop version. They tend to have their origins in dating apps, which in theory makes sense, but history doesn’t look kindly.

Bumble, a popular dating app that sells itself as a sort of anti-Tinder, launched Bumble Bizz late last year. So far, it has yet to light the world on fire, let alone keep LinkedIn’s execs awake at night. GQ’s article entitled “Stop Trying to Network on Dating Apps, You Goons,” sums it up pretty well.

Not everyone got the memo. Ripple launched this week, slingshot in hand, hoping to take down LinkedIn. No surprise, its DNA is steeped in dating. IAC’s Match Group, which owns Tinder, agreed with Tinder to spin off Ripple into a standalone company and fund it. It has an undisclosed, minority stake in Ripple, which has no other outside investment.

I’ve downloaded the app, and can safely say LinkedIn has nothing to worry about.

Although the app hopes to distance itself from Tinder, there’s no mistaking the look and feel are very similar. You connect your account with your existing LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus accounts, if you choose. Then, you add a photo and select interests like marketing, sales, and entrepreneurship.

After that, you start seeing photos of others and swipe either right if you want to connect, or left if you do not. Most profiles I perused failed to even have interests selected, which made it impossible to determine whether or not I wanted to connect. Additionally, there was no way of knowing who was nearby or not, which to me is a potential benefit. Perhaps this will be added as more people use the service.

Where Ripple does differentiate itself can either be construed as creepy or clever. For example, the app used face recognition technology to find other users. Won’t it be fun when people point their phone at your face, followed by an invite to connect. Ugh. They do, however, hope to use technology and gamification to terminate bad actors.

“That’s going to be one of our big differentiators,” Tinder CTO Ryan Ogle told TechCrunch. “We’re going to be very aggressive in eliminating people who are doing things for non-professional reasons.”

From a recruiting perspective, Ripple is pretty useless at the moment. You can’t search profiles for skills, education, or even location. There is also no job posting function or advertising option, which isn’t particularly odd for a new app, although you could argue a professional networking app should have jobs, even if that just means having Indeed backfill. Oh, and you can’t chat with someone unless they “like” you.

Dating companies who launch these things tend to highlight LinkedIn’s aging brand and technology as a reason to why people should flee it and join their shiny, new thing. Problem with that is established and known are probably unbeatable advantages when you’re hoping to find a job, sell something, or hire somebody. Ripple may evolve into that LinkedIn killer, but I’m not holding my breath.

Ripple is available on both iOS and Android now. There is no fee.