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Facebook hires team from online reputation site Legit

Service helped companies with trust verification in the online marketplace

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 19, 2013
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2e30

Facebook has been of a bit of a hiring spree since the beginning of last year, picking up the teams at Glancee, Threadsy, Carsabi, Storylane and Hot Studio in that timeframe. Now the social network has made another hire that was done so quietly that nobody seemed to notice for days.

Facebook has hired the team at online reputation system Legit, the company announced in a notice on its homepage late last week. 

Legit was a cross-platform reputation system, known as the Legit Reputation Group (LRG), that pulled info about people from across the Web so that online marketplaces can verify that they are dealing with a real person who was not trying to rip them off. The site has now been shut down, though the founders preserved an old version of it here.

No details about the hiring, including how much Facebook may have paid for the company, were disclosed. Vator contacted Facebook for more details but the social network was unavailable for comment. We will update when we learn more.

In the note, co-founders Jeremy Barton and Rob Boyle talked about the history of the company, and the lessons they learned along the way. They noted that Legit has gone through series of changes over its life, including both names and brands.

The company changed names two times, starting out as Quantifi before the name was changed to Cred and then Legit. It also changed its approach to online reputation numerous times as well.

Legit started life as consumer-first reputation site, where users could go to make sure that the person they were dealing with was not a con artist. But it didn't work because "a system requiring a person to go to a different site for reputation information before proceeding with a transaction on a marketplace presented too much friction."

Also, most people who used sharing servies did not seem to need additional sources of trust, so the company wasn't solving a problem most people had. 

The company then developed an embeddable widget " that would integrate into a user’s reputation profile within a marketplace." This failed, though, because "marketplaces want control of their User Experiences."

After that, the company built the LRG, its cross-platform reputation system. Partners who joined the LRG contributed user reputation data specific to their marketplace. Legit aggregated and analyzed this data and returned a LegitReport and LegitScore summarizing the user’s reputation across all marketplaces.

Legit also provides real-time alerts to LRG partners that were sent when Legit becomes aware of a significant reputation event on a marketplace, like a crashed car or vandalized apartment.

Despite that they " were not able to achieve Legit’s vision", Barton and Boyle say that the lessons they learned "feed our excitement about Facebook."

"On Airbnb, Facebook is used to tell you if your host went to the same college, or whether a friend of yours has stayed there before you. When you sign up for Lyft, you have no option but to connect with your Facebook account to provide proof of your identity," Barton and Boyle wrote.

"Facebook is a core piece of infrastructure for many marketplaces as the source of your offline authenticity and reliability. While we will be working on other initiatives within Facebook, we remain huge advocates of the Sharing Economy / Collaborative Consumption and are confident the movement will continue to grow."

The news was first reported by TechCrunch on Monday.

Facebook was unavailable for comment. 

(Image source: http://www.legit.co/home)


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