Rapportive makes an add-on for your Gmail inbox that instantly adds context to the people you e-mail, as you e-mail them. The Y Combinator startup demoed its social intelligence utility for Gmail at a Mountain View event on Tuesday.
Rapportive exists as a Firefox, Safari, Mailplane andChrome add-on for Gmail. Once installed, the section to the right of each e-mail message — typically occupied by Google ads — is replaced with rich information about the e-mail sender.
The add-on is a clean and lightweight way to get an instant glimpse at who the e-mail sender is and what his/her online footprint entails. Rapportive displays a photo for each contact, highlights professional information, includes links to various social profiles and even pulls in a few of the individual’s recent tweets, should the contact in question be a Twitter user.
As a Rapportive user, you can control exactly what your Rapportive profile shows to other Gmail users — perhaps the best motivation of all to download and install the utility.
With Rapportive, you can also add and save notes about contacts and install Raplets, which are third-party apps that add additional context or information to your contacts. The service even includes integration withTungle.me, so that users can check a contact’s schedules and organize a meeting without ever leaving the e-mail message.
Rapportive exists in a growing space of applications and services that aim to add social context and web intelligence to contacts in the e-mail inbox. Xobni is a similar tool specifically for Outlook users. Gist, which offers a full-featured cloud-based contact management service, also offers sophisticated social integrations and a Gmail Google Apps tool of its own.
To date, the early stage startup has raised upwards of $1 million in angel investments from notable names, including Paul Buchheit (Gmail creator) and Gary Vaynerchuk.