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Trove’s AI scans company emails to unlock professional networks

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In the near future, you might ask your email client how to get an introduction to a new professional contact. That’s the idea behind the latest updates to Trove, a service that’s designed to analyze users’ email messages and provide them with insights about their professional network.

The update, which is available today on iOS and Android, will allow people to create teams with Trove so that they can pool their connections and help each other get introduced to the right people. It’s possible to search for “@amazon.com,” for example, and get back a list of all the connections on a team who work for the tech giant. The system can handle a wide variety of queries based on location, type, and a limited number of archetypes, like “connectors” (people who are likely to refer a contact to someone else).

Depending on how a team is set up, users can either reach out to those people directly or ask a contact inside the organization for a connection. In situations where connections are more sensitive, it’s possible to set up a Trove team so users can only see that someone in their organization knows a matching contact, but not who. They can then send a message that goes out anonymously to other teammates, asking for a connection.

All of this functionality is powered by artificial intelligence work that Trove has done over the past several years. The company, which is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is working with a pair of research teams at the University of Michigan to apply new technologies to the old problem of building a professional network.

In order to get the information, users need to provide Trove with access to all of their email. In return, they get what should be deep access into the professional network they have, as well as that of their coworkers. The more people who are on a team, the better and wider Trove’s recommendations can be.

The idea came from cofounder Guy Suter’s work with BitLeap, a backup appliance company that Suter cofounded and sold to Barracuda. As part of that work, he saw that companies were paying a lot of money to ensure their employees’ emails were backed up, but they weren’t doing much with that data.

Suter said in an interview that he considers one of Trove’s biggest competitors to be LinkedIn, rather than the current bumper crop of intelligent email clients that have appeared over the past several years. That’s because the email client software is really just meant to provide users with a portal to all of the information Trove can provide on an organization’s professional graph.

While LinkedIn is popular for many professions, some people can’t use it for competitive reasons or because of regulations governing their work.

All of this builds on Trove’s existing feature set, which includes an email app that provides users with intelligent filtering and information about how strong connections are between contacts. One of the app’s other marquee features is its ability to remind users about questions they may have previously forgotten to respond to.

Teams can get started with Trove for free and can use the service to explore up to 25,000 shared connections. For $129 per month, teams can use Trove to sift through up to 50,000 connections, while $349 per month will let teams access up to 250,000 shared connections. The company also offers annual subscriptions for its two paid tiers, with discounts over the monthly price.

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