By/Association Guilty of Being a Social Network?

All Day Buffet launched a social network that isn’t a social network: By/Association, a private, invite-only site with users in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York and plans to expand to Toronto and Chicago by year-end, The New York TimesBits reports.

Potential members complete an online application with questions about themselves and their interests, and All Day Buffet told Bits that since By/Association debuted in July, more than 700 applications were submitted and the service has about 450 members.

By/Association matches members up by hand, examining applications and choosing people in corresponding cities who seem like a good fit, and the company told Bits it may use a software-driven recommendation system. Members who are matched up receive introductory emails and proceed from there.

All Day Buffet added that By/Association is currently free-of-charge, but it may adopt a pay model after expanding into more cities.

All Day Buffet co-founder Michael Karnjanaprakorn told Bits:

We’ve stripped out everything that would make it a social network. You can’t search for people, see other profiles or pictures. It doesn’t matter what they look like—it’s not a dating site.

I know a lot of people in the tech and design community in New York but don’t know any knife-makers or doctors. I wanted to meet people in other industries—someone I would never meet otherwise but would really get a lot of value out of meeting.

We know it’s not going to be perfect all the time, but we hope we can get at a secret sauce of finding someone interesting to meet.