LinkedIn to Monster & BranchOut: Pay Up

ERE.net has learned more details about LinkedIn’s July 1 decision to cut off Monster’s BeKnown and BranchOut’s API access. We’ve also obtained copies of the emails that LinkedIn sent to both companies.

If there was any doubt that commercial reasons were behind the move, it’s gone now. Both emails end by proposing that the companies join LinkedIn’s “Partner Program for enterprise products.” A representative for LinkedIn has confirmed that the companies would pay for this access.

While BranchOut and BeKnown got all the attention, LinkedIn also cut off access to at least four other companies. Startup mixtent and resume parsing company Daxtra are two more companies that serve recruiters that were affected. As of this morning, the import function that is the core of mixtent’s service appears to be completely broken.

Unlike mixtent, Monster seems unmoved. A spokesperson said that “LinkedIn is actually the smallest source of BeKnown network growth compared with other sources.” Similarly, a BranchOut spokesperson said that “changes to the LinkedIn API have little impact on the BranchOut experience, as it was only being used by a small fraction of our users.”

A LinkedIn representative said that they had been in contact with Monster and BranchOut since the emails, but representatives for both companies denied that they were engaged in any discussions with LinkedIn regarding restoring API access.

The full emails are below, but here’s the rest of what I found notable:

  • I wrote that LinkedIn had cut off access to the API because the companies were competitive, which is prohibited by LinkedIn’s API Terms of Use. Competition still underlies this decision, but the specific trespass that LinkedIn cites is that both BranchOut and Monster intend to charge “fees for access to LinkedIn’s Content,” which is also not kosher under the TOU.
  • The move appears to be preemptive, since BranchOut does not charge for access to user data at this point in time.
  • Unlike BranchOut, Monster is already very much in the business of charging for access to data. However, the LinkedIn move seems preemptive there as well, since the BeKnown database is currently separate from the main Monster database. The company has acknowledged plans to merge them in the future.
  • LinkedIn claims that Monster is also in violation of the TOU for sending emails via the API to promote BeKnown.

The emails were sent by Adam Trachtenberg, the director of LinkedIn’s Developer Network, to his counterparts at Monster and BranchOut.

Article Continues Below

This is the complete email from LinkedIn to Monster:

From: Adam Trachtenberg
Date: July 1, 2011 12:29:16 PM CDT
Subject: Important information about BeKnown’s LinkedIn Developer Program account

Dear Mark,

LinkedIn’s Developer Platform Program helps partner websites build the professional web with LinkedIn.  Specifically, LinkedIn’s People API allows our partners to add professional identity to their sites with LinkedIn member profile and connection data to create a richer professional web experience for our members.  LinkedIn’s Messaging API allows our partners to use LinkedIn’s Inbox to make their applications a social communications hub by letting their customers send invitations to connect on LinkedIn and messages to existing connections.

We have become aware of your recently launched BeKnown application on Facebook.  Your use of the LinkedIn APIs in connection with this product violates LinkedIn’s API Terms of Use and Platform Guidelines by, at a minimum, using the APIs to send messages to promote BeKnown.  Also, we have concerns that LinkedIn Content imported into BeKnown will be used in connection with your enterprise sourcing products, and, in effect, you will be charging fees for access to LinkedIn Content.  As a result, we have disabled the BeKnown application’s access to the LinkedIn’s APIs.

We have a Partner Program for enterprise products and, if your messaging violations are corrected, are open to discussing with you whether BeKnown offerings are a fit.  If you are interested, please contact Scott Roberts, our Senior Director, Business Development, at sroberts@linkedin.com.

Regards,

Adam Trachtenberg
Director of Developer Network

And this is the full email from LinkedIn to BranchOut:

From: Adam Trachtenberg
Date: July 1, 2011 12:29:07 PM CDT
Subject: Important information about BranchOut’s LinkedIn Developer Program account

Dear Nathan,

LinkedIn’s Developer Platform Program helps partner websites build the professional web with LinkedIn.  Specifically, LinkedIn’s People API allows our partners to add professional identity to their sites with LinkedIn member profile and connection data to create a richer professional web experience for our members.

We recently became aware of BranchOut’s imminent launch of a premium enterprise recruiting search tool.  BranchOut’s use of LinkedIn’s API to support this tool violates LinkedIn’s API Terms of Use by, at a minimum, by charging fees for access to LinkedIn’s Content.  As a result, we have disabled BranchOut’s access to the LinkedIn API.

We have a Partner Program for enterprise products and are open to discussing with you whether BranchOut’s offerings are a fit.  If you are interested, please contact Scott Roberts, our Senior Director, Business Development, at sroberts@linkedin.com.

Regards,

Adam Trachtenberg

Director of Developer Network

ERE Media, Inc. CEO David Manaster continues to learn about recruiting every day. His first job in the profession was way back in 1997, and he founded ERE Media the following year. Today, David spends his time thinking up new ways that ERE can serve the recruiting community. You can follow David on Twitter or email him at david(at)ere.net.

Topics