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ICYMI: LinkedIn acquired Rapportive (and ruined it)

| July 27, 2014 | Reply
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This pile of LinkedIn chocolates may not be full of nuts, but the company's management team overseeing development of Rapportive certainly is. LinkedIn has been systematically destroying the once useful social CRM add-on for Gmail ever since acquiring it in February 2012. (© 2010 Nan Palmero/Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

This pile of LinkedIn chocolates may not be full of nuts, but the company’s management team overseeing development of Rapportive certainly is. LinkedIn has been systematically destroying the once useful social CRM add-on for Gmail ever since acquiring it in early 2012. (Photo © 2010 Nan Palmero/Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

In case you missed it, LinkedIn acquired cloud-based customer relationship management software provider Rapportive in February 2012 for a reported $15 million. And they’ve been systematically destroying it ever since.

Founded in January 2010, Rapportive took a novel approach in the social CRM space by integrating with Google’s Gmail to automatically find and aggregate social media profiles for people you converse with via email.

With Rapportive installed, simply opening an email from one of your contacts allowed you to also gain instant access to the latest content from their public Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Rapportive even gave you the ability to follow or friend someone from a sidebar in Gmail without having to ever leave your inbox.

Rapportive was a simple, elegant plugin that performed a unique and useful function very well. So much for that.

LinkedIn didn’t do any significant development on Rapportive for more than a year after acquiring it in February 2012 and, when it finally started doing something, that “something” was eliminating features that made Rapportive such a great product in the first place.

Now, Rapportive shows Twitter and Facebook links when they’re posted on LinkedIn profiles, but only if they’re posted on LinkedIn profiles. At least LinkedIn doesn’t even try to cover up the fact they’ve trashed the product, plainly explaining on the very sad and depressing Rapportive by LinkedIn FAQ page that “Other Twitter and Facebook information such as status updates, comments, follows, retweets, replies, likes, and the ability to add a friend is no longer supported on Rapportive.”

So much for that.

What’s next for Rapportive?

What’s next? This: “On July 31, 2014, we’ll be removing 3 features from our Rapportive experience: Raplets, Notes, and the Rapportive contextual gadget for Google Apps. …By removing these features, we’re able to simplify the Rapportive experience. We’re adding a deeper integration with LinkedIn so you’ll see more LinkedIn profile information and your shared connections within Rapportive.”

And they think that’s a good idea why?

LinkedIn says users can access and download saved notes until July 31, 2014 by going to Rapportive.com/notes and logging in with the email address associated with their Rapportive accounts, but after that date the notes will no longer be available. Would it have killed them to give users a longer grace period to retrieve their saved notes?

Discontinuing the Rapportive contextual gadget for Google Apps makes no sense at all considering that was a key reason for the social CRM add-on’s rise to popularity in the first place, but I guess it does explain why the application is still using the deprecated OAuth 1.0 authorization framework (which will no longer be installable for single sign-on in Google Apps after Sept. 30, 2014). After all, why bother patching a leaky boat if you’re just going to scuttle it?

As FullContact’s Brad McCarty down in Nashville noted last month, every move LinkedIn has made since the acquisition has both punished existing Rapportive customers and given potential new ones less reason to try the service.

With social CRM becoming more important to both the enterprise and small business sectors every day and more than 6,000 value-added resellers pushing the Google Apps for Business platform, LinkedIn’s current strategy doesn’t seem like a very sustainable business model to me.

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I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (or eNinja™). Circle me on Google Plus at Plus.BillySuratt.com, follow me on Twitter at @surattb and Instagram me at @BillySuratt. Got a news tip or suggestion about some journalism that needs committed? Email blog@billysuratt.com (discretion is always guaranteed).