In early September, I noticed introductions popping up on Twitter always cc’ing @Hashable. My first impression was that they were incredibly stupid vanity tweets clogging my Twitter feed. Three months later I have to confess that I am a Hashable addict.
Hashable is a networking and contact-management service that rose from the ashes of Tracked, a Yahoo-Finance like site that launched in late 2009. The service facilitates introductions and allows you to post your real world interactions — #justmet @mikeyavo or #greatmeeting w/ Emily Hickey– using Twitter or email. Hashable organizes all your introductions and interactions in an address book.
Users earn points for activity, called HashCred, with the most active users ranked on Hashable’s leader board.
In late 2009, Hashable founder and CEO Mike Yavonditte had raised about $11.5 million from Union Square Ventures and a number of angel investors for his company, Tracked. He brought in chief marketing officer Emily Hickey in January of 2010, along with Quigo alums Teddy Jawde and Dave Sebag to run product development. While in the beginning they attempted to turn Tracked around, they eventually decided to pivot towards what became Hashable.
“I could tell in the first week it wasn’t going to work,” Yavonditte recalls. Yavonditte’s previous company Quigo sold to AOL for $360 million in 2007.
I began using Hashable in September after a demo from Yavonditte at the company’s New York office.
Hashable undertook a grass roots campaign directed at key influencers in the New York City tech scene similar to that employed by Linkedin in the Valley during its early days. Soon a fierce battle for the top of the leaderboard ensued.
Super networkers like angel investors John Frankel and Jeff Singer, Lowenstein Sandler attorney Ed Zimmerman, and First Round Capital Principal Charlie O’Donnell became power users while the service remained in beta testing. You couldn’t check Twitter without seeing a Hashable intro or #justmet hashtag in your feed.
Hashable’s traction sparked Singer to push for a new round of financing, despite the fact that Hashable had enough cash in the bank to last until the end of 2011.
“It took me one week to say, Mike I’d like to lead a round for you,” Singer told me. “It’s a dashboard for my life.”
Union Square Ventures was soon on board as a $2 million round grew to $4 million at a $30 million post-money valuation that priced out a number of prominent New York City angels. Hashable, still in private beta, now has over 10,000 users and around $8 million in the bank.
While competing for the leaderboard motivated many people to use Hashable, utility won out over vanity for me. Hashable makes it easier for me to network.
My task list used to be clogged with instructions to follow up on intros I’ve made or received. After meeting someone, I would try to write a summary of our conversation on the back of his or her business card.
Now I use Hashable, cc’ing the service on email intros and receiving updates notifying me if the people I introduced actually connected. While I’m a little more reticent to share all of my interactions on a daily basis, I use Hashable privately.
The game mechanics have some annoying side effects, however. Responding to complaints about spam intros, the company has recently changed the point system to reward successful and useful introductions, an effort that has significantly reduced the volume of bad intros I receive.
Game mechanics also inspire people to do Twitter intros, increasing users’ Hashcred while clogging Twitter streams with spam. Twitter introductions are lazy, providing little context for intro recipients as introducers vainly move up the leaderboard.
Yavonditte told me that the Hashable team continues to adjust the scoring system in order to incentivize positive interactions and fight users who try to game the system.
Even as I am annoyed by the poor Twitter etiquette of many Hashable users, I still use the service. While I’m ranked 25 this month and all-time on the Hashable Global Leaderboard, the only thing it has gotten me are Twitter followers. I post interactions to the service every day and use it for every email introduction I make. Hashable’s utility, not my own vanity, is the reason.