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LinkedIn Built Its New App to Replace Your Office Directory

LinkedIn is taking its "multi-app strategy" to heart.

eurobanks / iStock / Re/code

LinkedIn is known for connecting people in the same industry. Now, it wants to connect people within the same company, too.

The professional network rolled out a new app on Tuesday called LinkedIn Lookup, which is essentially an online company Rolodex. (As Re/code already reported, LinkedIn has been planning to do something like this since January.) The app requires users to verify their employers using work email addresses, then allows them to search for their colleagues’ contact and profile info.

In other words, LinkedIn thinks it can one-up your company’s crummy office directory.

“Most companies have some crappy directory service that either they’ve created themselves or they’re [paying for],” said Ankit Gupta, project lead for Lookup. “People don’t really update their internal profiles. People don’t even add a photo. So they’re actually turning to LinkedIn [already].”

You could already do this sort of searching within the main LinkedIn app, but it required a little more strategy with filters and search terms. Gupta says that people check out their colleagues’ profiles more than you’d think — when searching for people on LinkedIn, users click on a colleague’s profile about 30 percent of the time. This app is intended to simplify that search and keep it company-specific, he added.

There are a lot of tools already out there that serve a similar purpose, including Slack, which is benefiting from Silicon Valley’s propensity for sky-high valuations. Facebook is testing a business offering, too. Gupta says he doesn’t see this product as a competitor to those because Lookup is more of a directory than a communication service. (My guess is that LinkedIn may one day change its mind.)

Lookup is another example of LinkedIn taking its “multi-app” strategy to heart. Lookup is the company’s ninth stand-alone app, and many of them simply serve a more specialized version of what you can already get from the company’s flagship LinkedIn app.

It’s not really clear how well the apps are performing from a user or engagement standpoint. LinkedIn doesn’t seem concerned with whether or not the general user base is willing to download every app it offers. Instead, the mindset is more about taking a popular use case from the main product and separating it in order to make it easier to use, explained Gupta.

Lookup is free, so LinkedIn isn’t charging companies for the service. That could change, obviously, although it might make more sense for LinkedIn to roll a more advanced version of the Lookup service into one of its existing subscription offerings. (Expect them to do something similar with down the road, too.)

The app is available on iOS, with an Android version coming “soon,” said Gupta.

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