A social recommendation engine backed by Bill Gates has launched. Likewise is a different kind of recommendation app that gives its users ideas for restaurants, books, TV shows, films or travel via a social network.

Likewise is funded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and was the invention of Larry Cohen, assistant to Gates and now chairman of Likewise, with Microsoft colleague Ian Morris as the chief executive officer.

Amazon-style recommendation engine or Pinterest-style clippings

The idea behind the Likewise app is to deliver positive recommendations from friends or people you follow, rather than giving reviews or ratings.

Posts on Likewise are public by default but have a privacy option to make recommendations exclusive to a closed circle.

Amazon uses recommendations and reviews to encourage spending, suggesting products based on what has already been browsed and also giving a ‘frequently bought together’ option to link related products.

Google itself is a recommendation engine of sorts, giving search results in an algorithm-based hierarchy.

“Recommendations from the people they trust”

Likewise chief executive officer Ian Morris said: “When it comes to finding great experiences, people don’t want to settle for ratings from anonymous strangers — they want recommendations from friends, family and other experts.

“Whether they are looking for a perfect spot for a first date, a great beach read, or their next binge-worthy thriller, Likewise provides people with a fun and easy way to get recommendations from the people they trust.

“Given the rapidly growing distrust of crowdsourced ratings, we believe the time is right for Likewise.”

Likewise: Good for business, good for me?

Shoppers rarely make their decisions alone or without a little persuasion.

Rather like the old-fashioned pushy sales assistant, internet retailers have recommendation engines to encourage its customers to buy, which can increase customer satisfaction as well as revenues.

The challenge for Likewise is getting the app signed up to enough users so that it can truly become a social network of recommendations.

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It has some external data sources, reported Axios, so that users have a few recommendations to start with, including restaurant ideas from Eater, a news and reviews network of restaurant sites.

The Likewise team is focused on first making the app a success in Seattle, which can then be a blueprint for expansion.