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


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