According to their website, Pealk, a new sourcing tool built exclusively for the LinkedIn platform, will be banned from the LinkedIn API effective Tuesday, June 26th. In a news release posted on the front page, the French startup announced plans to temporarily shutter operations in response to the action and attempt to move forward in a different way that doesn’t require API access.
You may remember that, last summer, LinkedIn banned both Facebook business networking tools BranchOut and Monster’s BeKnown from the API as well. The biggest hangup at that time: money. LinkedIn wanted the companies to join their paid partner program for enterprise services.
This time, it may be for what LinkedIn says is a clear abuse of their API’s terms of service.
According to Boris Golden, co-founder of Pealk, the news came as a shock to them.
“No warning that this was coming. We’ve been negotiating with LinkedIn for 2 months now. 2 weeks ago, we received an email letting us know that they were making progress on the partnership. During our last call, they told us that finally no partnership will be possible,” said Golden. “They wanted to cut off the API immediately but we negotiated some more days.”
“We tried to negotiate and proposed to kill all our messaging features and just to keep the search, profile flow and organizer,” he continued. “They said NO. Stop it. We had no other option.”
Pealk, according to Golden, has about 2,500 worldwide users. The service helped recruiters organize searches, quickly sort through multiple profiles and craft custom messages and track the results.
In a statement e-mailed from LinkedIn this morning, they responded:
SourceCon was set to publish a review this coming Monday from Sparsh Ahuja, executive talent acquisition recruiter at Cognilytics, about using the product. In the article, he called Pealk a “fantastic sourcing tool and an exceptional way to connect with otherwise inaccessible people.”
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In response to the shut down, Ahuja said, “It would be easy to say that this is a mistake on LinkedIn’s part (because of the chilling effect it will almost certainly have on usage of the API) or that it’s a no-brainer since other companies are getting (free) access to LinkedIn’s prized asset. However, there is another factor that I believe should be taken into account: that user data should be owned by the user, and that people should be allowed to share their data with the new services and contexts that provide the most utility.”
Ahuja suggested LinkedIn do more to define the limits on Pealk rather than cut off the application altogether.
Golden felt that it was more than just an API problem. “I think that the many reviews and tweets underlining that Pealk’s interface, user experience and productivity (especially with profile flow to seamlesly browse LinkedIn profiles) were better than LinkedIn recruiter,” he said. “We knew that the positioning was risky, but considering the discussion with LinkedIn, we thought they were really open to this kind of innovation.”
As of now, Pealk has other plans in the works.
“We’re approaching LinkedIn competitors, especially BranchOut and Beknown. We’re also thinking about making Pealk on LinkedIn through a Chrome app,” Golden said. “There are many options, but we’ll have to work for a few months and raise more money.”