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Presdo Makes Connections Through LinkedIn

LinkedIn's original CTO Eric Ly is tapping the LinkedIn social graph to enhance his latest venture, Presdo, which helps professionals connect at events such as conferences.
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For Eric Ly, tapping into the LinkedIn API is like coming home.

Ly was LinkedIn's original Chief Technology Officer, working there from 2002 to 2006. Today, he is CEO of Presdo, a startup that is tapping the professional social network for Presdo Match, a version of the Presdo group scheduling application specifically tailored to events such as conferences. Conference organizers, who are Presdo's primary customers, can offer the tool to attendees as a way of helping them maximize the value of the event by setting up in-person meetings with people who are in their social graph, or who they would like to be introduced to.

"It forms, if you will, the micro-social network for an event, which the LinkedIn platform allows us to do," Ly said. "We can get profiles about each of the attendees, and then make them browse-able and searchable by the other attendees." The service helps people establish virtual connections prior to the event, schedule meetings during the event, and follow up afterward.

Documented on the LinkedIn Developers site, the professional network's application programming interfaces have been steadily expanding in recent month to include access to company and job listings, as well as new programming methods like a JavaScript API and plug-and-play widgets.

"We're using the LinkedIn platform just as any third party developer would--although, because our team is primarily from LinkedIn, we definitely know the ins and outs of the platform," Ly said. On the other hand, the LinkedIn platform has changed and expanded dramatically since Ly left. The social network was also a lot smaller then--about 6 million people at the time, compared with more than 120 million today.

Presdo Match served about 50 conferences and trade shows last year, or about one a week, and attendance at these event ranged from 300 to 50,000 attendees. Because Presdo is also dedicated to facilitating professional connections, LinkedIn was clearly the most important and appropriate site to integrate with, Ly said. Presdo integrates with Facebook and Twitter as well, at the level of allowing users to share information about events, but they don't offer the same level of information about professional interests and activities, he said.

"People just don't think about putting their professional information on Facebook," Ly said. So the decision of which social network to emphasize was more practical than sentimental, he said. On the other hand, the Facebook social graph is very powerful because of the size of that service's membership, so encouraging users to share events there is certainly valuable. Presdo is also watching the growth of Google+ like everyone else, although it's too early to say how it might factor in, he said.

"LinkedIn is just more mature as a platform around professional data. I don't think even if Google+ reaches maturity it will come anywhere close to the utility and value we're looking to provide to our customers," Ly said.

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