Rapportive Acquired By LinkedIn!

Hey there! This is Rahul from Rapportive.

Our vision is to make you brilliant with people. Not just good, not just effective, but actually brilliant. That's our dream.

Since we accidentally launched, we have relentlessly pursued this vision, integrating LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and your address book right into your email.

During our partnership with LinkedIn, we got to know them very well. We found a great overlap between our visions. We found a high-calibre and extremely driven team. We found, crucially, a "members-first" company: everything that LinkedIn does is about making its members more successful.

In business, partnership is dating — and we went on a lot of dates with LinkedIn. Slowly, but surely, we fell in love.

Today, we are simply thrilled to announce that Rapportive is now part of LinkedIn!

Rapportive for Gmail

Over the last two years, Rapportive has become an essential product for folks all around the world. When rumours of our acquisition surfaced last week, many asked what was going to happen to the product. Well, we have fantastic news: at LinkedIn, we will support Rapportive, and we will continue to build beautiful products that make you brilliant with people.

The highlight of this journey has been our interactions with you — our amazing users who choose Rapportive day after day. We love you, love you all.

You've said some truly wonderful things: http://rapportive.com/love

Thank you so much. You're the reason why we do this.

The Future

We are completely beside ourselves with excitement. I have so much I want to tell you, and so much I want to show you. But I need to restrain myself — there'll be time for that later. For now, let me leave you with one last thought.

A company, at its core, is a set of beliefs united by a vision. When we founded Rapportive, we had one simple belief: we would build software that you don't have to remember to use. Our software would be an intrinsic part of the tools you use every day. It would be there when you want it, and out of the way when you don't.

You can convey this idea in so few words; it is so deceptively easy to describe, but it is so vitally important. Because when you do this — when you build software into the very fabric of the world around us, when you remove friction from the things that people want to do — something magical happens.

You enable people to change their own behaviour. You empower people to become better at what they do. And if you get enough people to do that, you might just change the world.

Speaking of which, we've got work to do!  'Til next time :)

Best,
Rahul

Rahul Vohra, CEO of Rapportive.   Let's connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Please note that you are now covered by LinkedIn's terms of service and privacy policy. As always, your trust is the most precious thing we have. If you have any feedback about our new ownership, terms of service, or privacy policy — or even if you just want to say hello — please do get in touch at supportive@rapportive.com. We'll be happy to answer any questions, and if you choose to cancel your account, we will of course do that for you.

Write better emails: be astute, personal, and effective

When somebody emails you, Rapportive is great!

You can immediately see what people look like, where they are based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. And you can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more.

But what about when you send email?

When you start a new conversation, Gmail itself doesn't help at all:

You're emailing Conrad, but you are flying blind.

Where is he? What's he doing? What's he thinking?

What's going on in Conrad's life?

It would be tremendously useful to have Rapportive right here:

Today, we are super-excited to deliver one of our most requested features: you can now use Rapportive when you are composing an email.

By using Rapportive before you email, you can be more astute, personal, and effective. You can find ways to break the ice, topics to bond over, and reasons to get in touch with people. You can even make small gestures such as liking Facebook posts and following on Twitter.

We've been testing this ourselves for a few weeks, and it's already changed the way we write email. We think you'll like it too!

We're gradually rolling the feature out to everybody. But if you can't wait, feel free to upgrade instantly here: rapportive.com/compose :)

Enjoy!

Not yet using Rapportive? Get it free at rapportive.com.

Claim your email addresses!

Hurrah! Rapportive users now lookup more than 50 million profiles every month.

We want Rapportive to be the best way to understand and connect with your contacts. We also want lots of people to use Rapportive. As we advance on both fronts, something else is happening as a result: Rapportive is becoming an important place to cultivate your brand.

When people email you, they'll see your Rapportive profile. What do you want them to see?

We want you to be in control. To see and edit your Rapportive profile, just click "my profile" at the bottom of any Rapportive sidebar. Here you can change what people see when they email you.

This approach has worked well so far, but it doesn't cover all cases. For example, many people have more than one email address (I personally use four). If you have multiple addresses, editing your profile like this would change what is shown for your Gmail address, but would not change what is shown for your other addresses. Today, this changes.

You can now edit the profiles for all your email addresses. Click "Claim your email addresses" in the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, and follow the instructions. (If the option doesn't appear, please reload your Gmail tab.)

After you've claimed an email address, you can edit its profile whenever it shows in Rapportive: just hover over the parts you want to change.

On the internet, you are who you say you are. Take control.

Claim your email addresses!

Not yet using Rapportive? Get it free at rapportive.com.

Your address book and inbox: together, at last.

I love business cards. There, I've said it.

Business cards have names and photos. They have jobs and companies. They have email addresses, phone numbers, and wide variety of usernames. Business cards are easy to exchange, remind you who people are, and help you reconnect with your contacts later.

Business cards are Rapportive for real life.

I get plenty of cards, so I have a small process to deal with them. I'll fire up Google Contacts, type up the details, then head over to Gmail and send a quick note. It's usually something like "it was great to meet you" or "let's grab a coffee" or "you should totally meet Sam".

Except there's a problem. When a contact emails you back, you don't see their business card. If you want to phone them, you have to jump from Gmail to Google Contacts via a series of clicks just to even see their number. This is crazy, especially considering you've spent time to type up the card! Enough of this craziness: we have now integrated Google Contacts into Rapportive.

To see your Google Contacts in Rapportive, click "Connect my networks" in the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, and then click "Sign in with Google".

Over the next hour, any photos, phone numbers and occupations in your Google Contacts will be seamlessly integrated into your Rapportive sidebar. For example, if you had my contact details, you would see my numbers as in the sidebar below.  (Please don't all call at once!)

It gets better. If any of your contacts have multiple email addresses, we'll merge their Rapportive profiles into one. For example, suppose you know two email addresses for one of your contacts: john.smith@gmail.com and john@acme.com. Through the gmail.com address, we find John's Facebook account; through the acme.com address, we find John's LinkedIn account. When John next emails you from either address, Rapportive will show you a complete profile with information from Facebook and LinkedIn.

Of course, your contacts remain absolutely confidential: their photos, phone numbers, and any merged profiles are only ever shown to you.

Enjoy!

Not yet using Rapportive?  Get it free at rapportive.com.

Rapportive for developers: Bitbucket, GitHub & Stack Overflow

Here at Rapportive we're a pretty technical bunch of people, and we spend a lot of time communicating with similar people: many of our friends are developers, job applicants are developers, the people we share mailing lists with — also developers. While we've previously been able to see their social profile, there's just something missing. Wouldn't it be great to see what they are actually working on, and what makes them tick?

Services like BitbucketGitHub and Stack Overflow solve this problem. Developers have a personal profile on each site that gives an overview of the areas in which they contribute. It's quick, easy, and incredibly valuable to scan down a list of projects they work on, or a list of questions they've answered. Not only can you see what they're doing right now (which is important by itself), but you can also get a glimpse into their professional history.

For a while now, Rapportive has been showing links to Stack Overflow, and more recently we started doing the same for GitHub. Today we're happy to announce that we're also searching Bitbucket.

If you're already using Rapportive, you don't have to do anything to see these profiles. If not, it's easy to add Rapportive to Gmail now!

Get out of your inbox: meet people at conferences!

Communicating electronically, be it via email, Twitter or anything else, is never quite as good as meeting people in person. Rapportive shows your contacts' happy smiling faces in your email, which helps a bit... but still, wouldn't it be better to just meet face-to-face?

With the new Lanyrd Raplet for Rapportive you can do just that. See which conferences your contacts are planning to attend — and if you're going to be there too, let them know so that you can meet up. You don't need to do anything special, because the Raplet shows everything right next to your email conversation.

Lanyrd's social conference directory also allows you to keep track of conferences in the past, and if any of your contacts have been speakers, you can check out their slide decks and videos.

How do you add this to Rapportive? Why, same as all Raplets — click the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, then "Add or Remove Raplets". Enjoy!

Build Rapport over Facebook

We believe that companies will increasingly compete on treating people excellently.

How do you treat people excellently? You respond to people quickly. You help people feel like they belong. You personally connect with people: you care about who they are, what they think, and what they do.

The trend is most visible in customer support, but it will not stop there. It will affect sales, business development, and every other way in which companies communicate. As a result, more of us will spend significant amounts of time building rapport with people. Many of us already do.

How do we establish rapport in an increasingly online world? It's simple: we interact with people on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But if you're at all like me, you're too busy to go to multiple sites. This is why Rapportive brings your network into one place — your inbox.

Since our accidental launch, we've shown your contacts' recent tweets. With our LinkedIn integration, you can grow your network from Gmail. Today, we are excited to announce that we've integrated Facebook right into Rapportive.

You can add contacts as friends on Facebook. You can see their Facebook posts. You can see attached photos. You can 'like' and respond with comments. You can even watch attached videos. And you can do all of this without ever leaving Gmail.

Building rapport has never been this easy, or this much fun.

Enjoy!

Grow your network with Rapportive

We've never had more demands on our time, or more ways to spend it. It's never been easier to neglect things which aren't urgent, but which are good for us. Like eating well, exercising, or filing receipts. There is one other thing I regularly forget to do: grow my professional network.

We all know that relationships matter. Networks like LinkedIn can remember all of our previous colleagues, and can track what they're working on now. This could be an invaluable resource for every one of us. But for me, it doesn't quite work: my LinkedIn network does not represent who I've worked with. I rarely remember to go to LinkedIn and update my network; when I do, I forget to connect with everybody that I should.

LinkedIn is great at knowing your network, but it's not great at knowing who to add to your network. That's why we've integrated LinkedIn into Rapportive. You can now add contacts to your LinkedIn network without ever leaving Gmail.

To add a contact to your LinkedIn network, just click "Connect" in their Rapportive profile. You can enter a short message, click send, and you're done. When your invitation is accepted, your contact's profile will show that you are connected.

This is the kind of feature we love to make: it not only saves time, but also quietly reminds us to do something worthwhile – at precisely the moments when we're ready to do it.

Will Freemium Work for You?

Ruben Gamez says freemium doesn't work. Yet Dropbox, MailChimp and Evernote say freemium does work. So, does freemium work or not?

This is the wrong question. The right question is: when does freemium work? [1]

The business model for Rapportive (which adds rich contact profiles to your email) is simple: build an amazingly useful product, and charge money for it. It will most likely be freemium: a base version of Rapportive will always be free, and there will be a premium version which costs money. We think that this strategy will work for us.

But why? What signals indicate whether freemium will work? I think it depends on many things: the type of product you have, the kind of company you want to build, and more.

10 questions to consider:

  • How do users feel about your product, as a function of time?
    Products which increase in value over time are good candidates for freemium.

    Neil Davidson has a good illustration of this.

    Do users love your product for a short while, and then get bored of it? (casual games) Are they oblivious to it most of the time, but occasionally desperate for it? (data recovery tools) Do they always dislike it? (virus scanners) Or does it gradually get more useful over time? [2]. For example, a tool which recovers corrupted photos from your camera is unlikely to work as freemium (cameras can corrupt files, but it happens rarely), whereas a tool such as Evernote works well as a freemium (it becomes more useful over time as you enter more data into it).

  • How good is your long-term retention?
    With good retention, you have a better chance of converting free users to paid users.

    Your product may become more useful over time, but if a large proportion of free users stop using it after a while, that's bad news if you were hoping to convert them to paying later on. In that case, you should probably ask them for money early, while you still have their attention, or improve your retention! However, if a large proportion of your free users stick around for a long time, and your product becomes more useful over time, more and more of them will eventually convert from free to paid.

  • Does your product require behaviour change, or can people start using it gradually?
    If people can start using your product gradually, freemium might work.

    For example, an image editor requires an abrupt change of behaviour: you've got to stop using the old one and start using the new one. In that case, charging all users from day one may actually help you: by having spent money, users are more likely to also spend the time learning how to use the new application (due to the sunk cost fallacy), and thus end up getting more value from the product. On the other hand, if your product doesn't have a big learning overhead and users can gently start using it, it may be better to charge for it later.

  • Does your product have distinct modes of use for different audiences?
    If it does, you can be more creative with your freemium model.

    I am fascinated by Yammer's business model. They get lots of people in an organisation to use it for free; then sometime later, when there are lots of active users, they sell the enterprise IT department on stuff like data ownership, admin controls and security tools. The end-users who sign up do not care about the admin features; the IT department does, and they are a separate audience. This is an interesting take on freemium: always free for end users, always paid-for for IT departments doing their job.

  • What is your market like?
    If you are targeting a large unmet need, you should make your product free.

    When faced with a wide open field you should be in land-grab mode, and acquire users before your competitors do. On the other hand, if you're in a well-established market, you'll need to gradually convince users to move away from their existing solutions. In this case, charging money is the best way of finding customers who care enough about the problem that they are willing to pay for a better solution.

  • Are you targeting a premium niche?
    Free users are the opposite of premium.

    Sometimes free users are more troublesome than paid users (for example, MailChimp was faced with a spam problem when they started offering a free plan). If you are going for the top end of the market, giving something away for free may hurt you more than it benefits you. The price of your product says a lot about your positioning, and people tend to assume that if something is free, it's less valuable than something expensive.

  • Which metric do you use to separate free from paying users?
    Freemium makes sense if there's an obvious point to start charging.

    Do your users need to pay when they exceed a certain number of seats, credits or widgets? Picking a metric is tricky, and is a topic worthy of a separate blog post. Number of seats is a common metric, but it only makes sense for applications where there's a downside to everyone using the same login. (For example, if your application is an analytics dashboard, it doesn't really matter if there's one shared login or each person has a separate login.) If there is no obvious metric which separates free from paying users, you should probably charge everybody.

  • Do you depend on word-of-mouth marketing?
    More users (even if they are free) = more mouths.

    If yes, note that more people using your product means more mouths to spread the word. You still need to reach the right kind of users, so the question is: can you reach people who will pay, through the word of people who will remain forever free? My guess is that if you're targeting a specific niche, word-of-mouth spread and willingness to pay are strongly correlated (which suggests that there is little benefit in having lots of free users); if you're targeting a broad audience, the two are uncorrelated, so free users can help you carry the word to people who will pay. [3]

  • What kind of company do you want to build?
    You need lots of users if you want to take over the world.

    If you've taken venture capital and want to take over the world, you need to grow quickly, even if it means leaving revenue on the table. If you want to grow organically and maximise profits, you're better off maximising revenue per user, and ignoring those users who would never pay you anyway.

  • What are your costs per user?
    They had better be low if you have lots of free users.

    Are your costs fixed (developers, testers) or variable (servers, support)? If your variable costs are low enough, it's fine to have a low conversion rate, because one paid-for user may pay for 1,000 free users. Support for free users is often the limiting factor. To keep your support burden low, you'll need to make your product easy to use and fix all your bugs... but that's well worth doing anyway!

So why does Ruben say that free plans don't work? Well, for his situation, I think he's absolutely right. Let's consider the above questions for Bidsketch.

Bidsketch a workflow tool for designers: it's immediately valuable and then probably stays this valuable over time. It requires a change of behaviour: stop using email and start using Bidsketch. It has two distinct modes of use (one for designers and one for clients), but it seems pitched at one audience (designers). It competes with email, a well established solution. It seems to target a premium niche of the best freelance designers; this is not a tool for everybody. Ruben is self-declared Micropreneur who wants his business to grow organically. And because he's working by himself (as far as I can tell), the support burden of free users would be significant.

So I agree: freemium is not right for Ruben's product. But it might be right for yours.


Footnotes

[1] This is a popular failure mode for online discussion, and a pet peeve of mine. 14 months or so ago, the NoSQL community was squabbling about "mine is better" – "no, mine is", so I contributed a post explaining when you should use which type of database.

[2] Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, gave an excellent talk on Evernote's business metrics in May. It's packed with great insights for products which gradually become more useful over time.

"Every month, the longer you use [Evernote], the more valuable it gets. And since the long-term retention is flat, and the conversion goes up, what you see is: the longer a cohort stays, the more valuable they become." (at 14'55")

Examining the cohort of users which signed up in March 2008, Phil found that after 3 months, they were making $300/month from 11,000 people (a conversion rate of about 0.6%); 22 months later, they were making $8,000/month from the same 11,000 people (a conversion rate of about 16%)!

"Users are kind of like a nice wine, or a stinky cheese. As [a cohort of users] ages, it actually gets better. A lot of the people who wouldn't pay leave, and a lot of the people who stay end up paying. Even though there's no hard sell, and you can use Evernote forever for free, a much larger percentage winds up converting." (at 17'05")

Of course, not every application increases in value to users over time.

[3] Rapportive has broad appeal and is not limited to a specific niche, so it makes sense for us to have lots of free users. When Brad Feld recently said that he was trying Gmail, a chorus of our users jumped to recommend Rapportive to him. We wouldn't have got that without lots of people using and loving our product.

Effortless Scheduling with Tungle.me

Scheduling a meeting shouldn't take longer than actually having the meeting. Yet we spend so much of our time playing calendar battleships. Back and forth our emails go, trying to find that one precious hour where fates, stars and calendars align.

Calendars are great for remembering meetings, but they don't help you arrange meetings. That's why we've integrated Tungle.me into Rapportive. Tungle.me makes scheduling easy.

To schedule a meeting with somebody who uses Tungle.me, just click "Schedule" in their Rapportive profile. Their calendar will appear, showing only the times when they're available. You propose some times, enter a topic, and you're done.

If you already use Tungle.me, we've done some magic: your account will automatically show up in your Rapportive profile. Just make sure you've made your Tungle.me page searchable, which you can do from your Tungle.me account settings page. If you want to use Tungle.me to help you manage your calendar, you can sign up at http://tungle.com.

Why wasn't it always this easy?