Update: We’re hard at work on the LRG
An Open Letter
Dear Leaders of the Sharing Economy:
Clearly, reputation is a hot topic for any peer-to-peer marketplace building a robust, trustworthy community.
Reputation within a marketplace is important, but a bigger issue exists: The sharing economy as a whole is operating without an accountability system. Irresponsible users can be kicked off of one marketplace, but there is no system in place to prevent them from acting irresponsibly in other communities.
We need a cross-platform reputation system to form the backbone of trust and safety for the sharing economy.
Users have to be held accountable across marketplaces, the same way a credit score ensures accountability across financial institutions. For example, Citibank will be notified if you do not pay your Chase credit card. This understanding allows the financial industry to function.
Such a system will require marketplaces to collaborate.
In an effort to facilitate this, we are forming the Legit Reputation Group (LRG). Our goal is to create a partnership of peer-to-peer marketplaces who share reputation information.
If you are interested in joining the Legit Reputation Group please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org call me directly at (415) 273-9305.
CEO and Co-founder, Legit
Two sister brands, one major spinal adjustment
by Florian Fangohr, comments by Matt McDonald
The team (formerly known as Bolder, later Cred, then Legit) in San Francisco contacted us because they were ready for their next adventure. Good match… because, so were we. We being a design–technology studio in Brooklyn called—deep voice, creepy german accent—Fangohr. Our goal was to build a platform that measures trust online, called Cred. Later this read more epically:
“We are building the credit system of the 21st century economy, an economy based on trust & sharing.”
We were tasked with the design of the brand identity and the front-end development of the early release site.
CRED: Design Review One
Initial sketches for the C(red):
Flags, then only so serious: X-Ray, + Anchor
Let’s get real:
The Seal of Authenticity®
Get Cred, Gain Trust. / Give Cred, Get Cred. / Cred: The currency of Trust.
[Matt: The Cred team was pretty excited about this iteration early on. Cred as a currency felt real. The concept of giving & getting Cred felt like it played well into fueling more sharing of resources via the internet.]
Cred: Keeping the internet© honest since 2011.
CRED: Design Review Two
- Toss out more
- Refine / Simplify
- Iterate concepts
The Genuine Article
(Aka: the real thing, not a substitute or imitation, also a Wu-Tang Reference.)
Cred: Face Value Online
[Matt: This design review was a particularly hard one for the Cred team. We were in Brooklyn meeting Florian and team for the first time. As we sat in Studiomates (thanks Tina!) talking through the “final” branding, it became clear we wanted something with a bit more personality. Fangohr was doing such an awesome job, it was hard to ask for another iteration.]
CRED: Design Review Three
- Finalize word mark
- Integrate Score
- Polish the (devilish) details
Wordmark and Score
We ended up sticking with the letterforms of Lubalin’s Avant Gard (below) that we first used in the currency treatment. The geometrical letters complimented a circular score treatment and it was clean and solid at the same time. Nothing you would second guess, but something reliable.
The CredScore (that determines how well we know your trust indicators) suggested a range of colors. We tried the entire spectrum first, mapped into a C shape, shifting through depending on your score, starting from the lower left.
We later decided to cut the range of colors down. Red wasn’t appropriate because it only meant we didn’t know the individual, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a monster.
So we went for the warm side of the color spectrum, form orange (alert) to yellow (caution) to green (thumbs up). It looked like this.
At times we had to produce mnemonic devices to remind the SF team as to why we’d gone a certain route…
CRED: final brand
When we were just about ready to launch, a Techcrunch article about a firm called “Kred” appeared out of nowhere. After some time of disbelief, the realisation set in that we needed to go back to the drawing board and rethink.
The unforeseen can be your friend. If you can let go.
After a couple of depressed nights, a new name emerged. It was “Legit.”
When the fog lifted, we could see it more clearly. Legit was good. It was better even, more direct than “Cred” and more in line with what we were shooting for. It wasn’t about whether you where on the heap of the pile, or had the most influence or followers, it was just about whether you were YOU. That’s Legit. [Matt: See the full post on how we came up with Legit.]
At this time, we had two factors working against us: The ticking clock and our own attachment to a dead brand.
Timidly, we first probed the old design to see if we were able to keep with the type. That worked fine all right. More boldly, we convinced the SF team to lose the C. And turned it into a circle, to create a stronger mark that enclosed the type in the middle. In all black it had the strength of a document stamp, in combination with a solid colour it was a score indicator
Inside the circle we break down the geometrical letterforms of Avant Garde and changed them to perfect circles to match the enclosing ring.
In the end this gave us one circle for the e, one and a half circles for the g, another for the dotted i, and the ‘circle of trust’ that framed them all. The ghost of Cred had finally been exorcised.
It left us with Legit™.
[Matt: This detour at the 11th hour was grueling. Initially when Florian and I chatted, we thought the re-branding might take a day or two. Two weeks later, we found ourselves with incredibly solid brand. I can’t thank Florian and team enough for pushing us to drop our attachments to the old Cred brand. It took us all a little bit to come around to what we knew was right :) ]
So, why do we even have a blog?
There has been a lot of back and forth within the team about how much time to spend writing on the blog, and how much information to share.
Here at the Legit office, we spend a lot of time talking through problems, trying to find good solutions (we also just talk a lot). If someone is talking too much, however, we say it’s “getting windy in here!” People are getting blown around all over the place quite frequently (understatement).
To be totally honest, I wasn’t quite sure what the right wind/blog post ratio should be. So we had a talk about it, of course, and now I feel better.
We decided that we are going to try to overshare with you. Our goal is to build a company that helps you build trust with strangers on the internet so you can collaborate more. To do this well, we believe that you need to trust the company helping you build trust with people. (Yes!) We think that if you can get to know someone, there is a higher likelihood that you will trust them. We find that building a relationship comes from having a conversation, sharing information, listening, and learning. So, with the blog, our goal is to help you get to know Legit.
We have been inspired by the blogs of companies like Kickstarter, Simple, and 37signals. All of these companies are open and transparent, sharing quite a bit of information about what is going on behind the scenes. It’s pleasant to read their blogs and follow their thought process on the journey that is building and growing a company.
With our blog, we want to share what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We are working to solve a complex problem, and to be frank, we don’t know all the answers right now. We are embarking on a journey and we want you to be part of this journey.
Apologies for not posting this earlier; it feels good to get these thoughts out into the open.
Our name, a stunning new drama
We started working on this project in the beginning of August. Turns out that naming a new company is really really hard (or maybe we just made it hard?). Little did we know we were about to embark on an adventure (read: nightmare). Wish we hadn’t forgotten the trail mix and Shot Bloks! We nearly bonked.
Initially we called the project Quantifi. We thought it nicely encompassed the objectivity we’re shooting for. Ultimately, we decided that was a touch too analytical. We were shooing for ‘human.’
Then Lifeguy - never serious, just an internal code name while we waited for the perfect name to fall in our laps.
Portrait - cool, but too fluffy.
Passport - intriguing, people like their passports, but the URL is taken by Microsoft. Game over.
20 others… then, Cred. YES!
CRED. It felt meaningful and strong, but simultaneously informal and human. It reinforced our mission of helping people build credibility and trust. So we went to work on the brand, bought www.credproject.com and got @cred. Everyone we talked to loved it. Everything felt so good… the hard part was over! We bought aeron chairs (ok calm down, not really).
We made great progress developing the Cred brand with Fangohr.
Kred launches on 9/29
Ever had your favorite candybar stolen in kindergarten? Yeah, waaaay worse than that. Remember the boxes of candybars you sold to raise money for a new computer in the classroom? It was like that whole box getting stolen and being pushed down by the class bully.
Did this seriously just happen?
Yes. Yes it actually did.
We debated changing names extensively. We talked to our advisors, lawyers, and friends. At first our gut repeatedly said “stay with Cred.” We always want to be focused on what we’re doing, not on other companies.
But ultimately it was that focus that swayed us. Kred had already filed for the trademark. They’re also based in San Francisco and in the tech community. Sticking with Cred felt like it would be distracting for both companies.
So we switched, midstep.
This was not an easy choice. Everything we had done with the Cred brand, design, and development went out the window. While it was hard, ultimately, we know was the right thing to do. We wish Kred nothing but the best in building their business.
Legit is born on 10/11
Most great ideas don’t come when you’re trying. They come in the shower or while trying to fall asleep. In our case, we were in line to get burritos.
“What about legit?” (Matt)
[Silence. All hamsters spinning]
“Yeah, I like that.” (JB)
We were excited, but since our current team is predominantly male, our initial reaction was to gender check ourselves. We all texted a few from the opposite sex and received back an overwhelming liking for “Legit.”
Legit met our personality test. It met the test better than Cred. Legit is meaningful and strong, but simultaneously informal and human.
And it really reinforces our mission. Internal monologue in evaluating trust = “is this person legit?” Everyone we talked to initially about Cred loves Legit even more. Psheew!
Cred will forever be like an ex. Fun to think about, but there’s a reason you’re apart.
We’ll just say, Legit was out there, waiting and always meant to be.
This post is obsolete. Our thinking has changed greatly since this post was written, but rather than take it down we’ve left it for posterity.
Why a Score?
As we described in why we built Legit, we believe sharing is the way to a better world. But the rise of the sharing economy is an exciting opportunity with a daunting problem: How can we share with others if we’re not sure we can trust them?
To solve this problem we have designed a score that seeks to answer this question of trust. Other scores exist to measure various aspects of our lives. A Credit score measures fiscal responsibility. A Klout score measures online influence. But no score answers the fundamental question:
“Is this person legit?”
Designing the score.
We designed the Legit score with three fundamental principles in mind:
- Robustness - combine many sources of reputation.
- Honesty - is should be easy to understand and improve.
- Choice - people can improve their score in different ways.
We allow people to connect many sources of reputation as factors in their Legit score. These include social networks like Facebook and Twitter, marketplaces like Ebay and Etsy, sharing sites like Relay Rides and Airbnb, and even funding platforms like Kiva and Kickstarter. Each of these sources provides different insights into whether a person is trustworthy. We make it clear what we’re looking for on these networks and how they have contributed to a person’s score.
Many paths to the same score.
Two people can achieve the same score in different ways. For example, one person may have a large LinkedIn and Twitter following showing they are respected by a wide audience. Another person may have a substantial amount of positive feedback on Ebay and Airbnb. Both of these people may end up with the same score.
This is by design. We feel that despite getting to a score in different ways, both people have the same level of legitimacy. This allows everyone, from celebrities to college students to moms, to achieve a strong Legit score. Each does so by emphasizing the ways they’ve spent time building their reputation.
What goes into the score?
We analyze all the information provided by the accounts a person has linked to their Legit profile. We sort this information into three categories: Identity, Respect, and Karma. The Legit score is a combination of the scores in these categories. Each category sheds light on a different aspect of a person:
Identity seeks to answer the question of who the person is. Are they real? Are they who they say they are? Information that contribute to the identity score:
- Current Job
- How many accounts has the person linked?
- How old are their accounts?
- Does the information from each of their accounts agree?
- and more…
Someone who is open about who they are and whose identity information is corroborated by several established sources will have a high identity score.
Respect determines how many other people know and respect a person. Does the person have a large group of friends, followers, and colleagues? Information considered in the respect score includes:
- and more…
Someone with a strong network of friends, followers, and professional connections will have a high respect score.
Karma attempts to measure how well a person treats other people and the world around them. In short, is this person a good person? This is by far our most diverse (and we think most interesting!) category. Information that contributes to a person’s karma score includes:
- Ebay feedback rating
- Airbnb positive reviews
- Foursquare checkins at certain venues
- Kiva loans and Kickstarter projects backed
- Other reviews and ratings of the person
- and more…
Someone who is highly rated on sites and marketplaces on which they interact and who helps out others will have a high karma score.
So what’s a good score?
This is the human component. Different people need different levels of trust and legitimacy when interacting with others. Additionally, different interactions require different levels of trust. A simple online sale may not require the same scrutiny as the search for a new roommate.
The best way to get a feel for what makes for a good score is to look at your own profile, and your score based on the information you have provided. Then look through other people’s profiles. Does the profile of someone with a 45 give you a feeling of trust? Or do you need the information required for a 65 before you feel comfortable?
After spending some time looking at profiles and scores, you’ll know what scores you feel comfortable with. Once you know that, the score becomes a very effective tool for quickly determining who you will interact with.
That being said, as a rough guideline:
- Any score over 40 is good.
- A score over 60 is quite good.
- A score of 80 or higher is rare and difficult to obtain.
A question of trust
It’s Friday night and you really want to go that concert, but you don’t have tickets. Okay Craigslist, let’s see what you can do for me. A quick search reveals some great seats. Nice! The post says, “Text me, let’s meet at Market and 6th.” But then comes the question…
“Can I trust this person I have never met? How can they trust me?”
We are building Legit to solve this problem.
We’re witnessing an economic sea change. Beyond concert tickets, people are circumventing traditional markets and using the internet to go straight to peers for necessities like accommodations (on Airbnb you can rent a stranger’s apartment) and car travel (you can now rent a stranger’s car).
Things clicked when we saw this trend captured in a TED talk by Rachel Botsman. She describes the shift as Collaborative Consumption. It has the potential to rewrite the 21st century economy and reduce our impact on the planet. We want to help fuel the growth of this movement.
For this sharing economy to truly succeed, people have to trust each other. We see an unmet need for an overarching system designed specifically to answer the questions of trust.
Legit aims to be the credit system of the 21st century economy, an economy based on sharing.
We realize these are enormous shoes to fill. Yet, large-scale systems of trust have been built before. In 1956 Bill Fair and Earl Isaac founded the Fair Isaac Company, FICO, on “the principle that data, used intelligently, can improve business decisions.”
However, the FICO score is designed to aid decisions about ownership, not sharing. The 21st century credit system needs to measure a person’s reputation. Trustworthiness is a broader concept than just the likelihood of repaying a debt.
Our goal is simple: we want to work with you to present your reputation in a respectful and elegant fashion.
We believe that by consolidating all of your sources of reputation in one place, you will have a tool that can be extremely effective at building trust with a stranger. Next time you’re questioning whether to pick up those tickets on Market and 6th, we want the answer to be easy.