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Photograph by Aping Vision/STS Getty Images

Accompany Wants to Be Your Mobile Chief of Staff

Aug 03, 2016

When Google product executive Amy Chang was trying to sell premium versions of Google Analytics to companies, she would find herself in rooms of 15 to 20 people, many of whom she had met for the first time. "I didn't have time to look up their bios and prep 20 different briefing docs on everyone," Chang explained.

That's where she came up with the idea for a service that would do all of that for you. She left Google, and in 2013 co-founded Accompany with her former colleague at Google, engineer Matthias Ruhl.

The premise for Accompany is simple: the mobile and web app wants to be your virtual chief of staff, providing you with all the information you need for anyone you are meeting with in a given day. The app, which has been in private beta for the past two years and opened to the public today, connects to your Google or Microsoft email account, your mobile calendar, and Facebook and Twitter accounts. From there, the company's algorithms parse through your personal data — as well as biographies and information listed on the web — to create miniature dossiers on each of your contacts.

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Each night, Accompany will send you an email that include miniature briefings on all the people you are scheduled to meet the next day.

When you open your Accompany app, you'll see your calendar, and when you can select the person you are meeting with, you'll see a curated news feed that includes everything you may need to know about the person you are about to meet. That includes news about the company and person, posts from Twitter, as well as the contact's full bio. You'll also be able to see your email history with that person, as well as any notes that you have taken about them within the Accompany app.

Noticeably missing from the curated information and data sources is LinkedIn. The company, which was recently bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion, doesn't third parties to access to its data. LinkedIn bought Refresh, a competitor to Accompany, in 2015.

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According to Chang, the proprietary algorithms developed by Ruehl and his team are what separates Accompany from its competitors. This code lets Accompany parse millions of data points on the web to create bios that are equally as accurate as LinkedIn.

"There are 10,000 Andy Smiths on LinkedIn, but we will comb through Facebook, Twitter, and more to make sure we have the right Andy Smith you are meeting with on Friday," Chang said. The startup spent nearly two years building its core technology, she added.

The app is free for now, but eventually Chang says it will adopt a software as a service model, where users can pay for more features on the service. And though Accompany doesn't currently generate revenue, the startup has drawn $20 million in investment from Cowboy Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Iconic, and the late Dave Goldberg.

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