UPDATE May 8, 2014: LinkedIn is Killing Cardmunch and wil partner with Evernote business card service
LinkedIn is making this announcement without much explanation. IMHO the amount of time LinkedIn frittered away on this left them no option but to kill the app. While LinkedIn may argue that Evernote provides its users with a superior solution as justification for their decision, if LinkedIn had moved promptly when they had the opportunity, partnering with Evernote would have been unnecessary. There is also the matter of the money wasted on Linkedin’s original acquisition of Cardmunch, though the Cardmunch founders may feel they dodged a bullet, and probably now own LinkedIn stock.
Read more: LinkedIn Killing Cardmunch Bizcard Scanning
My original story from 2013:
I need to first explain that I have no particular special insight into this marketing mystery. I have no insider information whatsoever. I did post a question on Quora last week on this topic, but so far I have received no answers, to help me unravel this mystery. All I have is the observation of an informed technology marketing professional: me.
Over a year ago now someone on the UBC campus, who was thinking of developing an app, told me about this cool application for capturing cards into your contacts by photographing them on your smart phone. It was Cardmunch. It turned out that the application was only available on the iPhone at that time, but as luck would have it the company had just been acquired by LinkedIn. Voila! It would obviously only be a few months at most before I could obtain it for my Samsung Android smart phone, right? Wrong. That was over a year ago.
Common sense and the acquisition of Cardmunch by a major social media player, would say that addressing the Android market opportunity is not only an obvious huge potential revenue stream, but an imperative if Cardmunch is to survive as a major competitor in the card capture space. Not only that, being “agnostic” about OS platforms is the mantra of this market. The Android market is now dominant worldwide, and growing. Relinquishing the Android market to the competition, Cardmunch would lose literally millions of dollars. Surely Cardmunch and LinkedIn would not fail to act.
Over the year and a half since this issue first arose, questions have appeared on the Linkedin and Cardmunch support sites, and other websites as well. Where was Cardmunch for Android, and why is it taking so long? I did find one “mealy mouthed yada yada marketing speak” answer allegedly from one of the Cardmunch founders. The answer was boiler plate words about “serving our customers to the best of our ability,” wishing to “be responsive to our customers,” and most interestingly, something about needing to be able to provide sufficient servers to support the large increase in demand from Android users. Obviously, this all sounds like complete nonsense, considering the scale and big pockets of LinkedIn, and the amount of time that has been frittered away.
Cardmunch internal politics and strategy no longer matter. Not surprisingly, after leaving open a window of competitive opportunity as big as an aircraft carrier for more than a year, the market has responded. A competitor, CamCard has appeared with a vengeance. A year ago there were no acceptable alternatives to Cardmunch. Today, if you go to Google Play, you will find perhaps a dozen Android card scan applications, in addition to CamCard. IMHO, and others, CamCard appears to be the best of the lot.
To me, a Silicon Valley veteran, this sounds like a story with much more to it than is being made public. Silicon Valley is legendary for feuds, fights and odd, eccentric personalities. No one seems to be talking publicly, but if someone does know the full true story of this marketing debacle, I invite them to come forward. I am only guessing, but this is one of those things that might make a good book.
The bizarre burning unanswered question is why did Cardmunch and LinkedIn allow this happen?