I started using Plaxo years ago as a mechanism to “safeguard” my contacts. In the marketing field, my network (“rolodex”) is one of my more important assets, so having an online service to help me migrate the database from computer to computer is wonderful. I think this is now my 5th or 6th laptop owned since originally signing up to Plaxo, and each migration has gone fairly smoothly. Even to my Sony Vaio SZ-VGN460N, the worst computer I have ever owned in my life.
Now there’s always been a little rivalry of sorts with LinkedIn, even though they both have distinct value propositions (Plaxo being slightly more useful in my eyes). But with rapid onslaught of Facebook in the post-collegiate world this year, it seems like everybody even tangentially related to the social networking space is either jumping on board with a Facebook App (shameless plug – rate Facebook applications here!!!) or trying to compete with a similar styled offering.
Unfortunately, from all outward appearances, Plaxo is taking the “slightly more evil” route of diong business. Plaxo seems to be going down the route of near-invasion of privacy combined with phishing-style email updates. Today I received an email entitled “What’s happening in your Pulse”:
As you can see from the screenshot, I have a few updates from some colleagues. Now first off, I never asked for said updates, which puts this into the spam category of email. Secondly, I am pretty sure nobody on the list has opted in to having Plaxo track and share this information with me, which is a privacy invasion (yes, I know that these are all publicly accessible things, but without the opt-in, it’s dubious). Thirdly, it is absolutely ridiculous that these aren’t active links to the activity updates! I’m supposed to go to Plaxo Pulse just to get the links I want.
In my eyes, this is a shameful betrayal of users on Plaxo’s part. They have created a “service” designed without any consent on anyone’s behalf. In doing so, they have most certainly lost me as an evangelist, and have opened the door for any competitor with a similar offering to rapidly snatch me up. What a terrible business, product, and marketing decision they have made. I wonder how many people it took to make it?