Why Peeple, the “Yelp for People,” is a Bad Business Model
PSFK speaks to Jeff Tinsley of MyLife.com about where Peeple went wrong
If you regularly pay attention to internet crazes and emergent online trends, you may have picked up on the death-bound Peeple, the “Yelp for People” app. Looking to iterate on the already exhausted ‘rate people’ model, the pre-launching startup received outstanding whiplash by outraged netizens who unveiled a conspicuously gossipy intent within the rating system. After failing before ever beginning, CEO Julia Cordray attempted a rebranding, stating that the product was really all about “spreading positivity” since conception despite a collection of evidence suggests otherwise.
Having raised half a million dollars in a round of investments, with a valuation at $7.6 million (based on shares) as estimated by the Post, many argue that the restructuring is too late.
Though the public opinion is an expedient tool in crafting one’s own views, PSFK decided to turn to industry expert Jeff Tinsley for an in-depth understanding of the failings that undermined Peeple as a whole. As the founder and CEO of MyLife, Tinsley runs an organization that “helps people build a positive reputation about themselves while protecting their privacy.” By empowering users with the capability to search for anyone while controlling what others can see about themselves, the company positions itself as an ally to the people.
Comfortable with MyLife’s standing against its competitors, Jeff had no problem adding his two cents.
“This information is out [there] and many people don’t realize how much of this [content] can affect their [lives],” says Tinsley.
Besides the obvious lack of transparency—and subsequently integrity—Tinsley reasoned that one of Peeple’s major shortcomings was its binary sense of morality and how Cordray seemed to feel that the company belongs exclusively on one side of the spectrum or the other. Though MyLife is generally built on a foundation of positivity, Tinsley notes that there seems to be a 70/30 balance between positivity and negativity on the site. In allowing people to rate each other both anonymously or through their own account, MyLife. enables negative ratings that Tinsley views as a “necessary aspect within the business.” That said, users can remove reviews by anonymous people which factor in less than account-based reviews under the premise of credibility (since we don’t actually know the relationship of the rater). The goal here is to improve personal and professional lives and put the control in the hands of the user, not take it away.
Bringing background reports to light, MyLife’s enormous collection of individuals’ baseline records means you too probably occupy some estate within the database. With over 6 million unique users a month visiting the site for a grand total of 50 million users thus far, MyLife has solidified a sturdy brand-customer relationship not just by platforming the “google yourself” theme but also by expanding its offerings to include monitored data breaches across the web. Categorizing associations into personal, professional and dating connections is just one more way the company has stepped away from Peeple’s shabby critique approach.
“Let’s be real, everyone Googles everyone; MyLife.com is simply streamlining the process,” says Tinsley.
In essence, it is giving people a chance to take claim of their online identities, to correct wrongful information, to remove personal details they are not comfortable sharing, and most importantly, the opportunity to shape both their personal and professional online reputations in a way that bolsters their public image.
A key distinction to be drawn between sites that operate with rating systems versus social media platforms is the fact that a rating system isn’t network inclusive. By those means, your profile is open for anyone to see, and your score is subject to the same treatment. A lingering irony looms over Mrs. Cordray, who quickly learned the power a bad review holds. Where Peeple went wrong boils down to its approach: rating people for the sake of lessening their online presence is malicious intent and doesn’t actually help anyone.
For the future, Tinsley is looking to take on the credit score industry, claiming that the grading structure anchors too many and has a very narrow field of view. He hopes that MyLife can become the new standard in which people are approved and will further collapse unrepresented documentation of character.
Person reviewing via Shutterstock