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How much is your reputation worth?
For online reputation startup Traity, the idea of helping your maintain your reputation — or check out others’ — is worth a first institutional funding round of $4.7 million.
The company, with staff in Mountain View, the UK, and Madrid, wants its platform to be used to create “an Internet where you can trust everyone.” Or, to be more precise, where you can find out who might be trustworthy.
The new funding round, led by Active Venture Partners, will be used “to build a larger team who will help us deliver a great product faster,” CEO/founder Juan Cartagena told VentureBeat. Currently, the team numbers 10: Cartagena and nine technical staff.
“We will [also] spend a significant amount of money on research and marketing and branding,” he said.
The basic idea is that the reputation you’ve built up inside, say, eBay or AirBnB can only be used within eBay or AirBnB. Traity wants the user to be able to leverage that reputation elsewhere.
“Traity allows you to put your reputation in one place, store it, manage it, own it, and give you the chance to leverage it on many other sites and apps,” Cartagena says in a statement on the website.
Three key metrics are used:
• Identity. Users are asked to connect their social networks and mobile phones, upload their passport, and, soon, to record a five-second video. “Algorithms check that you are the same person, by checking things like name or the fact that you have similar friends on the networks,” Cartagena said. “Or if you said on LinkedIn that you worked for McKinsey but you don´t have any friends from McKinsey, that would be weird.”
• Behavioral. The company studies a user’s interests, knowledge, experience. It doesn’t assess the value of being, say, a tennis player, but lets other know so they can decide if they are more inclined — or not — to trust a tennis player.
• Historical or transactional. Reviews from, say, AirBnB or eBay, and endorsements from your friends. “The fact that you are a good host on AirBnB does not mean you are a good driver on Uber,” Cartagena told us, “but maybe you are ‘friendly’ on both, and you share that ‘trait’ across networks.”
Only the data the user wants to show becomes available. “We are also working on including your offline reputation, which is the next barrier,” he said.
“An algorithm will not capture the essence of a person because we are complex animals, so we try to put all the tools in place for people to be able to trust others.”
There’s no score. Traity’s approach appears to be oriented towards making information available and then letting the user decide. That could prove tricky, since subjective assessments are probably fine if you’re deciding whether to have dinner with someone, but not when you’re getting into a financial arrangement.
This “reputation passport” can be referenced via an API from any site that needs to determine your trustworthiness. The company’s pitch is pointed particularly at startups in the Collaboration Economy. Giants like eBay and AirBnB do not need such a service, while the newer sharing/cooperation startups need to create a trusting community as soon as they can.
How will startups know if Traity’s reputation service is dependable? Cartagena said it will encourage partner companies to run A/B tests with and without the API.
The company started as a Facebook app, when it reached more than 4.5 million signups. Now, Cartagena said Traity is “preregistering startups to use our Reputation API once we are ready to release.”
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