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After Hashable, LinkedIn’s CardMunch Could Be the Next Big Networking Tool.

Some­thing has got the busi­ness world talk­ing. Some­thing that could see the rolodex con­signed to the trash can once and for all. That thing is Card­Munch, a start­up that aims to take over where Hash­able left off.

Any­one work­ing media jobs or with­in the tech world gen­er­al­ly will no doubt have heard of Card­Munch already. This nifty lit­tle app claims to do away with paper busi­ness cards once and for all by con­vert­ing their print­ed con­tent into dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion using Amazon’s Mechan­i­cal Turk. All you need to do is take a snap­shot of the card and Card­Munch will do the rest.

Per­haps the biggest coup for Card­Munch though has been its acqui­si­tion by LinkedIn, which allows it to access the infor­ma­tion of LinkedIn mem­bers. This means that when you snap or ‘munch’ a new card, Card­Munch will pull that person’s con­tact and employ­ment details, and even any shared con­tacts, straight in from LinkedIn. The app even keeps the pho­to of the card as a back­up and will file con­tact auto­mat­i­cal­ly in an alpha­bet­i­cal list. Neat huh?

A match made in heav­en, Card­Munch was bought by the net­work­ing giant for $2.4 mil­lion and now has access to its 150 mil­lion users, which saw the num­ber of cards scanned dai­ly, go through the roof. In fact the num­ber of cards munched so far stands at over two mil­lion.

Card­Munch and LinkedIn – the Per­fect Cou­ple

The whole idea behind the com­pa­ny – dig­i­tiz­ing the con­tact details of pro­fes­sion­als, meant there would be a col­li­sion with LinkedIn at some point, as founder Sid Viswanathan explains.

“We had to work with LinkedIn. We knew LinkedIn would be part of our suc­cess whether we worked with them or not.”

This is a conun­drum many star­tups encounter – they will have to either beat or join the big boys at some point. And let’s face it, beat­ing them is unlike­ly. Most new tech busi­ness­es will have to knock on the door of Face­book for its social graph, Google for its search data, LinkedIn for its net­work or Twit­ter for its Fire­hose – the end­less stream of mil­lions of raw, real-time tweets that spew from the micro blog­ging site every day. Heck, even Spo­ti­fy and Net­flix have signed on the dot­ted line for access to Facebook’s open graph.

Tin­ker­ing with APIs

The Card­Munch team began ‘dab­bling’ with LinkedIn’s APIs, but found the process frus­trat­ing.

We want­ed a deep­er lev­el of access to all their APIs,” said co-founder Sudeep Yeg­nashankaran. “We knew there were things they could offer us, so we tried to get as much access to LinkedIn because that’s what our users want­ed.”

The team began attend­ing LinkedIn devel­op­er meet­ings, not to net­work, but to learn how they could achieve the lev­el of inte­gra­tion they craved. They want­ed to remain inde­pen­dent; but some­what iron­i­cal­ly, this is when LinkedIn came call­ing.

“Sev­er­al of us were using this app, and we liked it,” said Linked­In’s SVP of prod­uct Deep Nichar. “So we went and found the team. Now, the lat­est ver­sion of Card­Munch seam­less­ly inte­grates LinkedIn pro­file data and invi­ta­tion func­tion­al­i­ty.”

Every­one involved in the Card­Munch phe­nom­e­non agrees it has the poten­tial to be tru­ly ground­break­ing, but what does it bring to the par­ty for LinkedIn?

Well, Card­Munch has allowed the com­pa­ny to effec­tive­ly make the archa­ic paper busi­ness card a thing of the past and take those vital steps toward mak­ing the 1950s Rolodex obso­lete.

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