LinkedIn API change: worst business decision I’ve ever seen

I’m working in the IT since 15 years, I’ve been entrepreneur and CTO and freelance, I’ve seen a lot of good and bad decisions in these years, this is probably the worst ever, take a seat and enjoy the ride.

Since a few days LinkedIn is not allowing developers to create apps that access the “fullprofile” and “contactinfo” APIs. The info that they keep providing to the developers is just the basic profile with has just a couple of contacts information and the working “positions”.

This data is so little (compared to a “normal” résumé) that it’s completely useless.

I’ve three general thoughts about this decision:

  • as a LinkedIn user I can’t use my own data (because hey, it’s user generated content) anymore as I want, and this is making me think “should I keep giving my data to a company that do not give me the possibility to use it as I want it?“. For my point of view the answer is no and I’ll see what I will be doing with my own LinkedIn profile.
  • as a developer I’ll go to some LinkedIn competitor (XING anyone), which I now hope it’s going to grow despite of LinkedIn “monopolistic” position. I really can’t understand what’s on LinkedIn top guys to tell developers “we don’t want you, go use our competitors”. Every company should make its ecosystem grow, not shrink, am I right? They are instead deliberately doing the opposite.
  • as a developer (again) I’ll probably have to build a LinkedIn competitor. I know it sounds simply silly, how you can compete with a giant… but don’t you know that before Facebook there was MySpace? Where is it now? And we have a lot of example like that. So now LinkedIn is encouraging people to create its own competitors and it sounds a little bit absurd to me. It’s like (back in the time) Altavista was saying “hey why don’t you build your own search engine?”. I’m obviously not comparing my position to those big situations…

And I also have one personal thought about my own app called VeloCV:

  • I was telling my users “keep using LinkedIn, that’s your main tool, do not maintain 2 different profiles, you’ll never come here on velocv and modify your profile, everything will always be paired to LinkedIn”. I was being fair to LinkedIn and I was not competing with them, I was part of the ecosystem giving the users some more value to their LinkedIn data (their, of the users, data) to fill a gap in LinkedIn features. Both (VeloCV and LinkedIn) would have benefit from that cooperation.

What I’m doing now with my project?
I’ll migrate my softwares to XING, I’ve already created my XING profile (I never had one before so, again, good choice LinkedIn) and I’ll probably create some more UI to allow people to subscribe VeloCV also without a LinkedIn/XING profile and let’s see what happens. It’s gonna be hard (LinkedIn has 315 milion users, XING 14…) but what should I do?

I would like to hear what you think about this, are you a developer that got kicked out of LinkedIn API access? Are you a user that doesn’t have a fully working app anymore? Please let me know.

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