Home LinkedIn’s Revamped Pulse App Is A More Personal, All-Business News Reader

LinkedIn’s Revamped Pulse App Is A More Personal, All-Business News Reader

People needs news and companies need people’s attention, and so LinkedIn has launched a fresh iteration of LinkedIn Pulse, an app designed to be every professional’s go-to news source. 

In development for over two years, the new LinkedIn Pulse—available Tuesday on Android and iOS—represents the culmination of the company’s acquisition of both Pulse and Newsle. The new app combines parts from all three companies. 

LinkedIn acquired Pulse, which made a popular news reader, in 2013. It followed that acquisition in 2014 by buying Newsle, a startup which specialized in machine learning to improve its personalization of news. 

Add those to LinkedIn’s core asset—your professional identity built on a list of work experience, skills, and connections—and you’ve got the makings of the new LinkedIn Pulse.

Personalizing Pulse

The initial LinkedIn Pulse app came out in 2013, but it had fairly simple tools for personalization, like a section called My Lists for adding topics.

The new app looks at your LinkedIn profile and takes information like who you follow on LinkedIn, your profession, your job, your company, and your network to create a feed of what the algorithm thinks might be relevant news articles. 

Above each article appears a tiny blurb telling you why it’s showing you the article—a key interface element the Pulse app picked up from Newsle, says Pulse cofounder Akshay Kothari, who led the effort to create the new app. 

Kothari demonstrated the feed Pulse generated for him, and it showed him articles that people in his network had liked, or that were relevant to people in the internet industry, or because it was something popular among his LinkedIn coworkers. 

The new LinkedIn Pulse app for iOS and Android, respectively. Image courtesy LinkedIn.

One obvious flaw that may have already occurred to you: Do you really want people you happened to work with determine, in part, what news you see? That’s not lost on the Pulse team.

Kothari says much of the feedback the team got in working on the new Pulse app has been about that very concern.

 “I can’t tell you how many people have actually said that: ‘Hey, I’m connected to this person professionally but what they’re sharing is not that relevant,'” Kothari said.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this: The new Pulse app allows you to swipe an article off your screen if you don’t want to see it, and you can tell the app that you don’t want to see more articles like that. It will incorporate this knowledge, as well as data on what you do end up tapping on and engaging with, into future recommendations. 

Additionally, algorithms aren’t the only force at work here. 

The Human Element

A key part of the new Pulse app as far as LinkedIn is concerned, is that there’s an element of human editing involved. The LinkedIn Pulse editorial team is about a dozen people, with most in the U.S. but with two in the United Kingdom, one in India, and two in Australia. Someone maintains watch over the news around the clock and works in tandem with LinkedIn’s dashboards to select articles that an algorithm might overlook. 

“It’s important to have that human touch,” Kothari said. The Pulse team feels strongly that having only machines select articles leads to a “sterile” experience. The human news team allows the feed to have some degree of editorial voice. 

LinkedIn, The News Company

LinkedIn straddling the lines between news organization and social network is not new. Beyond acquisitions like Pulse and Newsle, the company has continually pushed to make itself a place where people want to publish original content, much of which will now be featured on Pulse. 

It even redesigned its homepage to better expose said content, and wants more people everywhere to be writing that content. This new Pulse app should help in that regard, as posts gathering a response from readers will get pulled into more people’s feeds. The personalization elements inherited from Newsle should likewise bring more prominence to posts written by contacts.

It’s one more piece in LinkedIn’s efforts to be both a publisher and distributor of professional news. Now it just has to get more people to pick up its Pulse.

Lead image by Nan Palmero; screenshots courtesy of LinkedIn

This story has been updated to clarify a quote attributed to LinkedIn’s Akshay Kothari.

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