Ok, that’s about the worst title for a post, but I’m jetlagged in Amsterdam and it made me chuckle. Anyhow, Rapleaf is a new Web 2.0 startup (a topic I’m trying to avoid these days, but couldn’t help it here) from the SF Bay Area focused on, and this part I like very much, trying to make the world a better place. Amen!
Think I’m just kidding around? I’m not! From their about page:
Rapleaf’s Goal: To make it much more profitable to be ethical
Whether they succeed or fail, I’ll give them props for trying. Effectively, Rapleaf is offering a Web-based service that lets anyone rate anyone else by email address or phone number. Think of an eBay rating, but now take it to encompass ALL online buying and selling. Auren Hoffman, the company’s founder (and a swell guy) is using it already in conjunction with a posting he made on craigslist.
I like when people actually use the technology they build. It always gives me a personal warm fuzzy when I use the Slingbox to watch my home DVR (like I did this morning starting at 4:12am, when Ambien failed me for the first time). If you are at some company and never, ever use your own products, I’d suggest looking for something different to do with your time. But, again, that’s just my opinion (but since you come to my blog, you must endure my opinion until such time as you continue on your merry Internet-surfing ways).
Now I do think most Web 2.0 stuff is a bunch of junk, Web toys and tools being built by bloggers, for bloggers, and will never, ever go anywhere (and yes, back in 1996 I thought an online bookstore was a goofy idea, I admit it, but I was right that it didn’t take 400 people to run an online pet supply store and people in Baltimore weren’t likely to order DVDs and ice cream at 11pm over the Internet for instant delivery). I think the concept behind Rapleaf is sound, and I’m actually surprised the folks at MSN Passport (or Live) never incorporated something similar. Honestly, I’d like to see the company take it a notch further: what if they could expand the concept to stick with an individual external to the notion of buying and selling?
A friend of mine works for a large retailer (both my friend and the company shall remain nameless, but you happen to be reading this, the password is “lotion”), and recently a new boss was inserted into my friend’s organization. This individual has a great pedigree, and a perfect resume. The only catch is, well, apparently the person is a complete tyrant and awful to work for. What if Rapleaf would let all former employees rate the individual as a boss? Wouldn’t it be great if hiring managers could have an easy tool to see how former employees rank someone? After all, when you apply for a job, reference checks are always done upwards, not downwards.
I don’t do all that much buying and selling online, although my wife is a near-pro at Craigslist these days, so I don’t know how much I can personally leverage Rapleaf today. I have a major concern about potential fraud with the system (there’s a huge difference between someone just not liking me as opposed to thinking I have done them wrong).
As for the Rapleaf web site, while the signup process couldn’t be easier, they definitely need to spend some time cleaning up the interface. I do like the fact I can add multiple phone numbers, emails, blog, etc to my profile, and I would like to see the system incorporate “former” contact information (although the address book did integrate with Plaxo – and I love me some Plaxo).
Finally, I don’t have any clue how they can make money off the product/technology/service/etc, although I doubt Auren and his crew would be involved in something if they don’t have a good plan up their sleeves. If not, well, I’m sure they can sleep better at night than the people who registered www.toeman.com (which I forgot to reregister several years back) hoping for a quick buck on it.
We need more ‘good’ things in this world. Want to hear how skeptical I am these days? When I first registered at Rapleaf, I didn’t use my preferred email address, simply out of habit of not using it for any signups any more. Imagine if every time we ordered chinese food we gave an address near our homes, and when we say the driver looking around in confusion we came running out to pick up the food. Trust has to start again somewhere.
In the meantime, I’ve added my Rapleaf score to my About JT page. At the time of writing, I’m a perfect 100%. Trust me on it.