What if professional networking was as easy as swiping left or right on your phone? That’s the premise of the new Ripple app (not to be confused with the cryptocurrency app of the same name), which borrows many features from the company that developed it: Tinder, the dating app. But instead of matchmaking for dates, Ripple’s aim is to help you build a professional social network by quickly pairing you with others who share similar interests and attend similar events.
While the swipe-to-like (or dislike) approach is commonly associated with app-based dating, it wasn’t the case at the beginning, according to Ripple CEO Ryan Ogle, who officially unveiled the app and social network during CES 2018. The company, which is backed by the Match Group, operates independently of Tinder.
“One of the things we talked about, the discovery of new people was a big problem,” said Ogle, who was the former chief technical officer of Tinder and also worked at Hatch Labs, the incubator behind Tinder. “Before Tinder was a dating app, we talked about it not being about dating at all.”
And in professional networking, Ogle says existing systems, notably Linkedin, don’t do the things users actually want it to do. According to Ogle, they don’t help users build business relationships effectively, they don’t prioritize the right people, they don’t care about the context, and they’re static directories. With Ripple and its tools for social discovery, Ogle thinks the app is far more effective in building a professional network.
“Linkedin was created more than 15 years ago, but it’s a web-based platform shoehorned into mobile,” Ogle said. “When I go to Linkedin, 90 percent of the people are recruiters or trying to get something from me[A] vast majority of people don’t need that all the time.
“We want to build the opposite, a user-first network [and] match people with opportunities,” Ogle added. And what he means by a user-first network is that Ripple will introduce users to relevant people; help them get connected quickly and easily and get the most out of their professional network.
When you launch the app, the Ripple Feed presents you with other users that it thinks you would pair well with, based on the interests you indicated, users you are connected to, your location, events you’re attending, and groups you are part of. It can even connect you with nearby users via near-field communication, and you can quickly “face connect” by taking a photo of them (provided they’re also on Ripple) and using facial recognition. And like Tinder, you can swipe right to connect, or left to skip. Over time, the app improves its searches.
In addition, the app is designed to be an active network. Users will also see information from Twitter, Medium, and news sources that are relevant in a professional context. Ultimately, the goal is to not only get you connected quickly but also stay engaged. It eliminates what Ogle refers to as the dead space in current professional social networks, where users don’t know anything about the people they connect with.
As a brand new social network, Ripple still needs refinement. We had some issues registering an account, and we also couldn’t edit the interests we selected, which, for some reason, Ripple considers them your skills. But the bigger hurdle is getting more people to use Ripple. Ogle acknowledged that Ripple won’t be perfect at the beginning (it’s asking users for feedback to help improve the system), and, like Tinder, he believes it’s best to start with a small group of quality users.