Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unvarnished now, opens up, rates Meg and Carly

Unvarnished, the Web 2.0 answer to reference checks that I've written about before, has changed its name to the more web-friendly

But that's not all. They also unveiled two other big changes:

1) $1.2m in seed funding to hire more engineers and to do more product development.

2) The site is now available to anyone with a Facebook account that is 21 years or older (due to the focus on professional achievements, not inappropriate content). Previously it was invitation only from existing users.

The other interesting development going on is they've weighed into politics. You can now see what previous co-workers are saying about California gubernatorial candidate (and former E-Bay CEO) Meg Whitman as well as senatorial candidate (and previous head of HP) Carly Fiorina.

So how are they doing? Last time I checked, Meg had an overall rating of 3 out of 5 stars, with ratings of 7, 6, 6, and 5 (out of 10) for Skill, Relationships, Productivity, and Integrity, respectively. Carly has an overall rating of 2.5 out of 5, with ratings on the dimensions of...all ones. That could be because she only has 3 raters so far compared to Meg's 20. No word yet on whether Jerry Brown (Whitman's opponent) and Barbara Boxer (Fiorina's opponent), both with long careers in public service, will have pages.

Don't (presumably irrelevant) political opinions taint the ratings? It's a strong possibility. But the reviews I've read were surprisingly balanced, which is what the site owners are seeing as a general pattern. Will it stay this way? Only time will tell. I suspect the ratings have much to do with the current user community.

Overall I'm a fan of the name change, although there was something refreshingly complex about Unvarnished. I can't see or hear the word "honestly" without thinking of Austin Powers. Mostly that's a good thing, and I think these changes will be too.

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