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  • Writer's picturejoshlevine

Do We Need A LinkedIn For Employees? Facebook Alumni Raise $10M To Build Exactly That.

JOSH LEVINE, NOV 16, 2020: A few years ago, a meme titled “Real Org Chart” made its way across HR departments. The uncomfortable chuckles it evoked validated a deeper truth: professional success doesn’t depend on management structures, it depends on the knowledge gained from our relationships. In the years since the visual quip first circulated, the growth of jobs that rely on what is in people’s heads–knowledge work, as it’s called–makes this truth only truer. Knowledge work has changed businesses as well, and many of these changes severely impede our relationships with co-workers, and in turn, the ability to access what they know. A new platform called Rimeto aims to change that.

Professional success depends on the knowledge gained from relationships. INTEGRATIONTRAINING.CO.UK

Twenty-First Century organizations will increasingly feature fast-growing, widely distributed workforces collaborating in department-agnostic teams. Amplified by rapidly declining tenures, these trends will undermine an employee’s ability to build relationships. All this shifting, fracturing, and growth makes it nearly impossible to form durable relationships with even a fraction of one’s colleagues. And, as I’ve written previously, good relationships are how work gets done in the knowledge economy. If we no longer have the opportunity to build our networks, we no longer have the opportunity to access our colleagues’ expertise. I’m not predicting the end of networks: the smart money is on people finding a way. As more people learn that the key to their success is what their co-workers know, the hungrier they will get for this kind of people information.

Any Question That Starts With “Who” The internet has trained us to expect that we should be able to find any information we need. Looking for someone among friends and family? Head to Facebook. Job hunting or connecting with old colleagues? Begin to type “Li…” and LinkedIn pops up to answer. But what happens when an employee needs to identify a colleague with particular expertise among their vast, distributed company? The founders of Rimeto (pronounced rĭ-mĕ’tō) say they have what we’ve been looking for.

Facebook Alumni Ted Zagat, Neville Bowers, and Maxwell Hayman, who this month landed $10 million in series A funding, experienced the pain and inefficiency of teams working without a reliable source of people information, something they found their peers around the Valley struggled with, too. The triad understood the power of Facebook’s social graph and wondered if they could create an analog for companies — a new, more powerful, employee directory.

Rimeto founders Ted Zagat, Maxwell Hayman, and Neville Bowers. © 2019 MARC OLIVIER LE BLANC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Ri-meto” is Polynesian for “person of the sea,” the expert mariner who can read the hidden language of the waves and wind to find their way to distant islands. Rimeto the company does the same for colleagues: they make it so easy to answer any question starting with “who”, that finding the right person is instantaneous. Don’t waste time looking for a person who can help you get things done, do better work because you already know them.

The company is an employee information platform that works by gathering and organizing employee data into profiles. Twenty years ago, when workers came together in one place every day, something like Rimeto would have seemed superfluous. Companies don’t have that luxury today. The context that knowledge workers need is scattered across hundreds of channels and systems.

If You Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For Still, with all the concern about personal data privacy and permanence on the web, you’d think a co-worker could find out if can program in Swift or speak Mandarin. But that information is only available to those who know where to look.

CTO Bowers shares an example of a common problem most companies struggle with. “Let’s say you get additional headcount. Ideally, you would look to hire at least some of those roles from inside your company because it requires a lot less time and money, not to mention on-boarding and integration. But today, what are your options for finding a viable candidate internally? A whisper campaign only reaches so many ears.” Bowers said their even LinkedIn falls short. Rimeto found that only 62% of their customer’s workforce have a profile. Brian Stolz, Chief People Officer at customer Activision Blizzard agrees.

“Employees want a single place to look up and understand their colleagues. Historically, the closest thing has been LinkedIn […]. But we think it’s crazy our people needed to reference an outside system for context about their colleagues.” Brian Stolz, Chief People Officer, Activision Blizzard

To map what Zagat and the team call an “enterprise graph”, the platform pulls data from two different kinds of sources: structured (systems in which information is already organized, like a company’s HRIS or CRM) and unstructured (other digital resources like calendars, email meta-data, Slack, and Github). Once a company chooses which sources to make available, Rimeto generates a profile for every employee including team and project affiliations, expertise, and goals. However, those unstructured sources provide the potential for other compelling and useful information to be included.

Rimeto gathers data into a single employee profile so that any co-worker can find the information quickly. RIMETO.COM

For example, Rimeto will prompt an employee who is on a regularly occurring meeting titled “new feature x” with a question: are you on this project? If the person confirms, that information is posted. Now anyone from across the company can find out who is on that project, or in the future, who was on that project — a handy tool for mining institutional knowledge.

Hayman gives some other examples of questions Rimeto can help with. “Let’s say someone is working on Latin American trade agreements. They can ask Rimeto if there are any experts at her company she can talk to. Or, say, Sarah and I are on a new project together. I’d like to know more about her: the team she is on, who she reports to, and what else she might be working on this quarter.”

The End Of The Org Chart When it’s adopted by a company, Rimeto becomes the official profile of every employee. But Zagat admits the platform will only really take off if employees understand how it benefits them. “Employees choose to incorporate the system into their daily routines when they value the information it provides” he explains. And if that happens, the potential for the impact it can have on companies is enormous. Rick Lewis, General Partner at USVP one of the firms investing in the platform, frames the opportunity this way: “It’s like enterprise videoconferencing before Zoom or enterprise chat before Slack.”

Company culture — the way employees engage with their work and each other — is often perceived as the “soft stuff.” But as more employees are scattered across regions, and acquisitions expand employee count ten-fold in a day, Rimeto understands that it’s exactly the opposite. In the Twenty-First century, what we can achieve at work is limited only by what we know, and what we know is limited only by who we know. Companies are structured to make it clear who does what for whom — a top-down industrial era idea. But today, this paradigm is too small to contain what we are capable of if we work together. Maybe Rimeto will finally convince the world it’s time to retire the org chart altogether.

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