As Fractional Work becomes the norm and we source our work globally that without trust you will be unable to survive. Trust will come from your online reputation. I referred to how you (we) react when purchasing something from eBay if we see a poor or low reputation of the seller. Aside from eBay, we are all sellers. We are all also buyers. What we need is our reputation in a portable, transferable medium. At the moment, eBay pretty much has a monopoly on reputation. There is something similar on LinkedIn but it is text based. You, as a potential purchaser of my services, a future partner let’s hope need to have as much reassurance up front that [a] I can do the job, [b] I can and will do it well and that I have demonstrable experience of [a] and [b]. Tradition dictates that we seek references from previous employers, colleagues etc etc but this becomes harder when these are across the globe.
What if you can build and online track record. Not only can you sell your old CDs on eBay and get a good reputation but you can also consult on building communities, virtual teams and all things EDRM and ECM? Now you have breadth of reputation. Now this needs to be portable, not just held within eBay for example.
Rapleaf aims to be the platform through which people can build their reputations online regardless of whether there has been a transaction and whether that has been online or offline.
This is a fantastic idea and somewhat analogous to the reason we should all have a blog. Blogs are the new CV’s / Resumes. If you want to know about me, my experience and interests you can get more information in 5 minutes of reading that you would in a 2 hours interview. That’s better for both of us. What my blog doesn’t tell you is whether I’m genuine. If Rapleaf is successful, you will be able to browse my reputation on line, 10s or 100s (hopefully!) of positive response and comments, this information has almost infinite value.
So, what does a platform, such as Rapleaf, need to succeed?
It must have an open interface / API. It will be no good if it cannot interface with most (read all) websites that have commercial interaction. You will want people to be able to comment on your reputation regardless of where you trade.
Secondly, and here comes the Catch 22, it needs to be trusted! It’s no good having an online reputation that says you’re great and trustworthy if no-one trusts it!. Trust must be earned and this is where Rapleaf will need to be very, very careful. Doubtless they will be looking for VC funding at some point and a key issue will be what is the possibility of it losing it’s trust – what are the risks, how can they be mitigated or controlled. In my opinion this could turn the company from being priceless to worthless in an instant.
For more details on Rapleaf take a look at the excellent article written by Michael [http://www.techcrunch.com/about-michael-arrington] at TechCrunch.