A lot of companies are betting big on private messaging. LinkedIn, at least so far, isn’t one of them.
The professional network has a lot of apps — seven by my last count — but none of them are considered a private messaging app. In fact, LinkedIn doesn’t have a messaging product beyond InMail, its own version of email.
Naturally, someone else noticed the void and decided to build an instant messaging app for them. Or rather, for their users.
Caliber is a new messaging app that launched last week specifically for conversations with your professional contacts — namely, your LinkedIn connections. The app uses LinkedIn’s application program interface, or API, and login so that you can message back and forth with any of your connections; it also uses your interests and profession to recommend new contacts for you within the app.
What’s interesting is that despite the heavy reliance on LinkedIn, Caliber CEO Andres Blank has no affiliation with the company. In fact, he has put himself in an interesting predicament.
LinkedIn changed its developer program in early February so that the majority of companies using its API must also form a partnership with the company.
If LinkedIn doesn’t create that partnership, the developer can be cut off from using the company’s API altogether.
That hasn’t happened to Caliber, which is free on both iOS and Android, but it’s a possibility. LinkedIn already offers a messaging product, InMail, although it’s much more like email than messaging and there is no standalone app. But it charges users to send these messages to others they aren’t connected with, so Caliber’s free model could, in theory, eat at LinkedIn’s business.
When asked if the two companies will work together, a LinkedIn spokesperson provided Re/code with the following statement: “We recently made some changes to our developer program and are reviewing the app’s usage against the new platform guidelines.”
It’s also possible LinkedIn might want to create its own instant messaging product in the future, in which case Caliber would be a direct competitor.
“Of course they have the resources [to do that],” said Blank. “That’s always something we’re conscious of.”
Even so, Blank, 32, envisions Caliber as a messaging app for all your professional contacts, not just those on LinkedIn. He has ambitions to bring connections from other platforms like Twitter, Dribbble or AngelList into the fold, so LinkedIn’s cooperation isn’t necessarily a requirement to keep the app going.
Plus, this isn’t the first company he has founded that relies heavily on other social media networks. Blank sold his previous company, a photo aggregation startup called Pixable that pulled photos in from networks like Facebook, for almost $30 million in 2012.
So he’s preparing for any eventuality.
“We’re aware that a lot of apps have been shut down in the past. We’ve already taken some precautions for this case,” he told Re/code. “It would be unfortunate because some of our functionality would be limited but we’ll still be able to operate.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.