Why is the #1 headhunter app Pealk shutting down today? (Answer: Linkedin)


If you didn’t catch the story over the weekend, TheNextWeb ran a story last Friday announcing that French startup Pealk, who offers a free headhunting app, is being shutdown. Today. The startup’s application used LinkedIn’s API to help exactly 2739 (as of this morning) recruiters to search for potential hires with a user-friendly interface.

What’s the deal, LinkedIn?

TNW originally ran an article in which LinkedIn claimed the shutting off of access to Pealk was due to the recent security breach, where more than six million passwords were stolen, and the desire to keep user data safe. There were claims that Pealk was ot complying with the LinkedIn’s Terms of Service, although there was no specifications as to which terms the French startup had disobeyed. I caught up with Pealk CEO Boris Golden to ask him about how he felt about the situation, and what the plans were for the future. The first thing he told me was about how shocked he was about how everything turned out: not because they cut access to the API, but that they did it without warning after eight weeks of negotiating a partnership. At the time when they sent a cease and desist letter, there were twenty LinkedIn employees registered to the service.

“We don’t deny their right to cut the API. It’s their behavior [that bothers us]” – Boris Golden, CEO

Boris had spent eight weeks working with LinkedIn on getting a partnership going with LinkedIn prior to their sudden request that the app be shut down. Not wanting to stir up any extra problems, Pealk has complied immediately with the shutdown date – June 26th, 2012.
While many of Pealk’s users claimed that the free Pealk app was better than LinkedIn’s premium headhunting service, which charges around  7,000/year. Pealk’s app allowed headhunters to sort profiles, view multiple profiles at once, create templated messages to send, and integrate all your work into your CRM.
You can see more of Pealk’s response to LinkedIn’s claims in their two press releases: the first announces their closing, and the second responds to LinkedIn’s response to the TNW article and an article in ProgrammableWeb.com

So What’s the future for the Pealk team?

With the numerous praising articles and user feedback that Pealk has gotten since its launch, Boris said he wondered “why they don’t just buy us.” Talking with him, it was clear his goal wasn’t to get bought out, but to see the product live on. Having worked with recruiters and attended recruiter conferences in Europe, he felt that Pealk was more concerned with Head Hunter efficacy, while LinkedIn’s priority has always been “the data.”
Boris said that, since the TNW articles, the 5-man team has been contacted by several Business Angels offering to invest in whatever they do next, although nothing concrete is in  the works.
While it’s still early and nothing’s fixed, I wanted to know what was going on inside their heads. Boris claims that the functionalities of Pealk can potentially be entirely recreated in a browser app, such as Chrome, without ever touching the LinkedIn API. If possible, Pealk may see the light of day yet again.