Why Reachable is not sending these “need to improve our Privacy and Data Policies” emails?

In the last few weeks, every Social Network, web service, advertiser, marketer and data company has been sending you emails announcing they were “improving” their privacy policy.  Indeed, they do need to improve it because for the last 25 years it seems that every web company was operating on the assumption that “Privacy was dead” (a statement attributed to Mark Zuckerberg in 2010, who since then has added $500B of value to FB…).  In fact, the Silicon Valley Credo was and still remains that PRIVACY SHOULD BE DEAD.

The impetus for this frenzy is the effective date (May 25th) of the stringent European Union regulations privacy (GDPR) that have come back like The Ghost of Past Human Values to remind web companies that people do care about privacy.  GDPR will soon become universally adopted by the web industry not just for European users but for ALL users. All that Reachable can say about that is: it’s about time!

I always thought that privacy was a good thing and it should be protected even if it interfered with user growth and profits.  Privacy is one of these things you don’t value until you lose it or someone else abuses it. Apple calls it a Fundamental Human Right.  I agree.

You might be surprised to hear that Reachable’s privacy policies and data policies have not changed much since we built the service.  It’s the web industry that is finally adopting our core principles. The idea that people should not have to give up their privacy and data to get a good web service was enshrined in our product from inception in 2008.  

On Reachable, you are not the product.

I’d like to remind you of what we do and don’t do with your data when you join:

  1. We ask you to upload your Contacts from as many sources as you want. It’s a one time thing.  We don’t automatically go back behind your back and constantly sync your contacts. You want to sync?  Click a button and do it. Do it 4-5 times a year, it’s enough (really). You don’t have to worry that just because you uploaded contacts that somehow you opened the gates to hell and we can just get in and do whatever we please.
  2. We store the name, title, address, phone number and email address of each of the contacts you upload. We don’t upload any notes or comments you may have on your contacts.  And we don’t read your email, we don’t need to track who you emailed when and what you wrote. Pretty much every web service thinks “let the user open the door to their data and take as much data as we can, we’ll figure out what to do with it later.”  Look, if we ever think of another service to offer you and we need more data, we’ll just ask for it.
  3. We don’t sell your contacts.  (Is that clear enough?)
  4. We don’t share your contacts with other users behind your back to help clean up their bad data.  Pretty much everyone else does that. We don’t do it because we are not in that business. Clients who have spent lots of time and money to clean up their data and upload it to Reachable don’t want their clean data to help others who did not make that investment.
  5. You can delete your contacts and go, anytime. We won’t keep a copy. Period.

So bottom line, you upload contacts, you use our platform to analyze them to see how they can help you connect to others.  The data you give us to analyze for you remains yours and you can take it back anytime. That’s it.

But there is more.  

A couple of years ago, we asked ourselves how do we remain true to these principles and allow people to work in teams and leverage their contacts as a team?  It’s a universal need — who hasn’t sent an email asking “does anyone know someone at XYZ company?” LinkedIn has grown so big and the number of connections people have accepted has increased so much that LinkedIn Connections are have become less and less useful for intros and referrals.  LinkedIn Connections is the new mailing list.

This was the impetus for “Reachable Teams.”  It’s a quick to way to create a private network of people who want to aggregate the power of their connections without giving out their contact data to other members of that network or to their company (as would happen if you upload you contacts to Salesforce.com).

Here’s how we created contact collaboration in Teams without compromising our principles:

  1. When you create or accept an invitation to a private Reachable Team, you can see the name and email address of the other members of the Team and the number of contacts they have in their Reachable contacts file.  But you can’t see their contacts.
  2. When you search Reachable as a member of Team, in addition to analyzing how your personal contacts can connect you to someone, Reachable analyzes the contacts of each of your Team members to find connections.  It shows you which of your Team members can be a helpful connector to someone you need to reach and whether they know your target or know someone who knows the target. Reachable does not give you the details (phone, email, etc) of your Teammates Contacts so you need to ask your Team member for the intro and the contact info.
  3. You can leave a Team anytime and remove your contacts from the private network, all with one click.

That’s it.

Laurent Ohana


Fostering Collaboration to Leverage the Enterprise Business Graph

Reachable has received a tremendous response to its approach to fostering collaboration in the enterprise regarding personal contacts and relationships.  When we started talking to companies about the fact that they had an Enterprise Business Graph and that they should learn to use it, we had to explain to people WHAT was it was we were talking about.  We explained that one of the greatest assets of a company was who it and its employees knew.  (Some refer to this to as the Social Capital of a company but we feel this term to be too restrictive.)

The conversation with clients and prospects has now shifted from WHAT to HOW — how do we enable companies to leverage relationships?  It has become a hot topic and most of the incoming enquiries we get now are from people who are aware they have an untapped asset they should leverage.

The first thing we tell these clients is that leveraging relationships is not a science, it’s an art.  As well, we strongly believe that while automation has a role, it should not be applied to tracking interactions that employees have with others via email, phone, social networks, and chat — tracking and spying engender distrust and there is no way that people will collaborate when they feel violated.  We are not luddites and are quite adept in the use of Big Data analytics and algorithms to do what we do, but we don’t believe in simplistic technical solutions to solve complex social dynamics issues.

At the core of our approach is a data ownership and privacy policy that is really a paradigm shift in current practice in the CRM world.  We introduced the Bring Your Own Data/Take Your Own Data (BYOD/TYOD) policy to the market and it is catching on.  Basically, we believe that contact data that employees bring to an enterprise belongs to them.  Attempts by an enterprise to appropriate this data by requiring that it be entered in the CRM system are doomed — people don’t enter their contacts into the CRM system, and they are less likely to enter LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter contacts/friends/followers into CRM systems.  We do hear from time to time lawyers arguing that “this employee met this person at a company event and then connected on LinkedIn so the contact belongs to the company.” What does that even mean?

Reachable provides every person on the planet with a private, portable, and connectable web-based contact manager.  Private: Reachable’s Contact Manager belongs to the person who creates it and populates it with data.  It does not belong to the enterprise, even if the enterprise pays for special features and data enrichment that enhance the value of Reachable to the user.  Let’s be clear: we don’t give the enterprise a copy of the data in the Reachable Contact Manager.  Portable: When a person leaves the employer where they got access to Reachable, they can take the Reachable Contact Manager with them (but they lose the enhanced functionality paid for by the employer).  Does that mean that the enterprise loses the relationship data that the person brought with her to the enterprise?  Yes, it does.  Connectable:  Owners of Reachable Contact Managers can opt-in to enterprise groups (a “Team” group) and allow their contact info to be mined by Reachable’s algorithms so that their contacts appear in connection paths generated for other “Team” users.  At that point, Reachable tells the other person searching for the path that a colleague has a useful connection, and that they should contact that colleague and ask for insights about that relationship.  When connecting Reachable Contact Managers with other Reachable Contact Managers no data is shared or transferred — Reachable sees all the data and connects the dots where and when appropriate without data leakage.  In this manner, an entire enterprise and its ecosystem can become aware of each other’s contacts without giving them up to anyone. We think this is very powerful.

It’s a basic precept of human behavior that if you try to take something I care about I will never share it with you.  Relationships are extremely important to people and the mere hint of mishandling personal relationships will cause the entire idea of collaboration around contacts in the enterprise to go up in smoke.  Spying won’t engender trust and will violate privacy, which will cause companies that over-automate a lot of grief and embarrassment.

Reachable offers a foundation for enterprise collaboration around relationships and contacts.  It inventories relationships and collects data about the professional and educational biographies of people and infers who might be connected to whom using its proprietary algorithms.  But that data is used to show paths that could be useful, it is not shared.  By suggesting who might help who, we engender conversations and discovery of useful intelligence in sales, marketing and recruitment.  Technology does its job, then it’s up to people to create bonds of trust and choose to collaborate.

If your enterprise is people friendly and wants to unleash the power of its Enterprise Business Graph today, we invite you to connect with us today at sales@reachable.com or go to our web site at www.reachable.com.  Follow us on Twitter, Friend us on Facebook and Connect with us on LinkedIn.  Feel free to leave a comment here or on other social platforms.

Laurent Ohana, CEO