A group led by former Tinder CTO Ryan Ogle has launched Ripple, a mobile competitor to LinkedIn. Rather than try to match up with LinkedIn’s growing list of features, however, the new app is focused solely on networking and includes a number of interesting features.
For one, Ripple hopes to gain from its mobile capability is the opportunity to take advantage of proximity. Users will be able to find potential contacts nearby and also start networking events using the app. This new offering, which originated from an internal hackathon at Tinder and eventually spun off into its own company, will be able to draw information from your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles and also—perhaps controversially—allow you to take pictures of people using your smartphone and find their profiles.
Ripple will also employ the swipe function popularized by its dating app cousin, but Ogle insists that Tinder is a lot more than swiping and plans for Ripple to include more detailed profile information such as job history, education, etc. without going to a new screen.
“People have misconstrued why Tinder succeeded,” Ogle tells TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez. “Certainly, the swipe was interesting, engaging and fun. But the reasons why Tinder succeeded were far deeper than that. We thought a lot about the psychology of networking and the problems… what holds people back and prevents them from achieving what they want to achieve.”
One reason why India has one of the lowest women’s workforce participation rates in the world is that Indian women at all levels of income and education are expected at some point to get married, have children, and turn their focus toward the home. Juggling a full-time family life and a full-time job often proves impossible, and women see their careers stagnate or even end after becoming mothers (i.e., the “motherhood penalty” they pay is even higher than it is for women in the US or Europe).
For Indian women professionals, one way to close this participation gap is to give them more opportunities to work flexibly, on their own schedules and outside a traditional office setting, so that mothers can handle their family responsibilities and remain active in the workforce. Women entrepreneurs in India have been developing services specifically geared toward these women, such as the online community and job search platform Sheroes.
Two entrepreneurs in Chennai, profiled by Sushma U N at Quartz on Wednesday, have taken the concept of a women’s professional networking space one step further. Earlier this year, Vandhana Ramanathan and Jinal Patel launched Wsquare, a women-only coworking space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers:
Female entrepreneurs can do with this support. Today, just around 14% of all Indian businesses are run by women, and many female professionals still battle workplace-related issues that deter them from pursuing their careers. It’s this segment that Wsquare is targeting. In the last eight months, over 150 women have registered to use the co-working facility, around 80% of whom are entrepreneurs. The rest are students, researchers, freelance professionals, or remote employees of large companies.
Jopwell, a recruiting startup focused on connecting hiring managers with racially diverse candidates, has raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round led by Cue Ball Capital, Megan Rose Dickey notes at TechCrunch, giving it a total war chest of $11.75 million:
Founded by Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams, Jopwell has an impressive group of investors, including Magic Johnson Enterprises, Andreessen Horowitz, Kapor Capital and Joe Montana. This new round of funding will enable Jopwell to scale and take on more companies, Braswell and Williams told me. Jopwell’s primary focus has been on Fortune 1000 companies, but over the past two years or so, the company has seen demand from younger companies.
VentureBeat’s Bérénice Magistretti takes a closer look at the company and its product:
Candidates create a profile on the Jopwell website, much like on other job recruiting sites — the difference being that they are asked to select their racial identity. … Once the profile has been created, the system uses algorithms that analyze a candidate’s resume, skills, past experiences, and preferences, thus allowing Jopwell to tailor the pool of qualified applicants for hiring managers at partner companies. These include Airbnb, BlackRock, Facebook, LinkedIn, Lyft, Pinterest, and the NBA (Magic Johnson is an investor in Jopwell).
Erin Griffith at Wired profiles ExecThread, a site where executives can share and find job opportunities within an exclusive network of their peers. The site is the brainchild of entrepreneur Joe Meyer, who realized the potential for disruption in executive recruiting when he sold his startup HopStop to Apple in 2013 and was approached by dozens of recruiters bearing job offers he didn’t want:
He quickly realized that C-level job opportunities weren’t listed on job boards—they came through friends or colleagues. So he decided to share the 99 job opportunities he didn’t take with his network, building an informal online community of high-level professionals. The hope was that his professional contacts would share their unwanted “hidden” job opportunities, too. …
Over the past two years, the site has grown by word-of-mouth to 15,000 self-described “high-caliber” members. Of those members, 80 percent are vice president-level or higher. Cumulatively, they’ve discussed more than 7,000 jobs. Beginning Thursday, anyone can apply—but you may not get in. ExecThread vets applicants based on recommendations from existing members, how networked applicants are, how willing they are to share job postings, where they’ve worked, and what titles they’ve held. Existing members vote on incoming applicants.
Meyer tells Griffith that he hopes for ExecThread to “democratize” high-level job searches by allowing executive candidates to compete for opportunities that are not pitched directly to them by recruiters. He believes the site can do a better job of sourcing talent than executive recruiting firms, but also envisions eventually monetizing ExecThread by selling users’ data profiles to those firms.
In the past two years, as competition in the online recruiting market has heated up, social media companies of all stripes have gotten into the hiring and professional networking game, including online dating platforms. Last April, the dating site eHarmony launched a job search website based on the company’s matchmaking algorithms, as part of a broader trend of these platforms expanding their business into targeted advertising, branding, and other ways to leverage their value as social networks.
Whitney Wolfe, the 28-year-old founder and CEO of Bumble, launched her company in 2014 as a response to the problematic gender dynamics of the online dating space, where women in particular are often subject to sexual harassment, abuse, and unwanted attention. The premise of Bumble is that users of both sexes can swipe through profiles and express interest in those users they would like to meet, but only women are allowed to initiate a conversation, and anyone using the network for abuse or harassment is promptly blocked and banned.
Fast Company‘s Karen Valby takes a look at Bumble’s newest offering, BumbleBizz, which will debut in October and offer a similarly women-centered approach to professional networking:
The concept of Bizz is a relatively easy sell for current users: Set up a discrete profile for networking, all while continuing under the principle that anyone can match, but women alone can initiate contact. Unlike many other professional and social networks, which exist to connect you to people you know, Bizz’s mission is to introduce you to new contacts, with added protections like verified profiles. One key to Bizz’s success will be drawing a new demographic of users into Bumble’s ecosystem. The challenge, says Bumble’s director of marketing, Chelsea Cain Maclin, is convincing “someone like my mother, who is married and has three kids and now wants to get back into healthcare work, that we have something to offer her.” …
Mashable’s Kerry Flynn profiles Blind, an exclusive app for Silicon Valley tech employees where “insiders dish dirt, spill beans, and trade advice” about their industry and community:
You can go to any tech journalist or call up any investor on Wall Street to get their take on $SNAP, but if you want to know about how Silicon Valley—the engineers, the product managers, the members of human resources, the sales people, the marketers, etc.—feels about it? Blind is where you should be.
There’s a caveat, though: You can’t get in. Blind is a private community only available to employees at a select number of tech companies. Employees at just over 100 tech giants (including Microsoft, Amazon, Uber, Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn) can join the app. … You can’t simply try making a fake LinkedIn profile, either. All sign-ups are tied to each company’s official email, and must be verified via that email address. But despite the connection, you’re anonymous within the community—and to the app’s creators, too—through patented technology.
Blind is not new, having launched in South Korea in 2014 and in the US in 2015, but it is expanding rapidly, Flynn reports, naming WeWork, Medium, Postmates, and Blue Apron as among the companies recently added to the app. So far, Blind appears to be avoiding the pitfalls that sunk Secret, a bygone anonymous tech forum that “quickly devolved into racism, hatred, and all-around negativity,” and puts a big premium on preserving genuine anonymity for its users:
Toward the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal’s Joann Lublin reported on an analysis conducted for the Journal by Equilar, which looked at women’s representation on the boards of directors at the 1,500 largest US public companies tracked in the Russell 3000 index and found that 76 of these firms had not had a single female director in the past ten years. The companies with a persistent lack of women’s representation were mostly smaller and concentrated in particularly male-dominated industries, but the study’s timeframe illustrates an important point about how the gender imbalance in corporate leadership perpetuates itself.
We know that having women on the board and in other leadership roles can confer numerous benefits on a business, as women bring skills and perspectives to the table that all-male leadership teams may lack. Unfortunately, men who sit on boards often don’t see it that way, and since directors are hired by other directors from their (mostly male) networks, the myth persists that there is a dearth of women with the qualifications to take on a director’s role. The qualified women are out there, but the men doing the hiring don’t know them.
Research has shown that companies with women on their boards are more likely to also have women in executive leadership roles. A study in India by the ET Intelligence Group last year found that companies with women CEOs were substantially more likely to have women directors as well. That correlation goes both ways, as the Atlantic’s Alana Semuels observed in a piece published late last month on the effects of women in corporate leadership:
The higher the share of women on corporate boards one year, the more likely the company was to hire women executives in the following year, the study’s authors, David Matsa, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and Amalia R Miller, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, discovered. This may be because women know each other through professional networks, and when there are women at the top—say on a corporate board—they help refer women to positions that otherwise might have been filled by men, Matsa told me. The increase also could have been because women discriminate less against each other, and hire them for executive positions, he said.