Klout, an influence-measuring service, recently acquired Blockboard, a start-up that connects neighbors online. The purchase of Blockboard marks the first acquisition of this kind for the company, which was founded back in 2008. Klout's primary purpose is to measure the influence of an individual's presence on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. It will be interesting to see what influence this Blockboard acquisition has on future Klout services.
Klout has an interesting backstory. Back in 2008, Facebook and Twitter weren't nearly the online giants they are today, but Kout's founder and CEO, Joe Fernandez, was fascinated and inspired by their potential. He became fascinated by social networking platforms during a hospital stay. He needed to have his jaw wired shut, and as you can imagine, his verbal communication was quite hindered. He was happy to have Facebook and Twitter as an alternative means of communicating with friends and coworkers.
The level of instant, broadcast-style communication provided by Facebook, Twitter, and the like is pretty incredible. Fernandez jokes in an interview with Venture Studio that his pain medication may have played a part in fueling his obsession with social networking. He was fascinated by the potential of a platform capable of such instant communication. That's when he got the idea to try and calculate the level of influence, or clout, one has online.
Klout currently measures online influence based on the five major social networking services. It gathers information about one's activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Foursquare. Comments, likes, mentions and retweets are counted to measure how people respond to your online presence. The information has loads of potential from personal curiosity to corporate advertising, providing useful feedback about one's online influence.
Nothing official has been announced regarding the specific purpose of the acquisition. The objectives of the two services seem quite different, though they were both conceived around the massive popularity and resources brought about by social networking sites. Blockboard aims to connect neighbors through technology. With the ease of socializing online, some have expressed concern that face-to-face interactions and getting to know one's neighbors are being sacrificed. The company's mission is to reconnect neighbors and neighborhoods.
Blockboard is an iPhone application that can be described as a more localized, smaller-scale version of Craigslist. It is a virtual bulletin board where users can connect with other members in their neighborhood. Blockboard users tested the app in San Fransisco, where they posted about different goings-on in the area. Users can post about lost pets, job opportunities or classes. People can upload photos of new businesses or street art to share. Neighbors can access information about different restaurants or businesses in the area.
Over time, as more and more people join and post information about their neighborhoods, it becomes a larger and more valuable resource. Every neighborhood has it's local gems, and Blackboard provides a spotlight. Time will tell what the brains behind Klout have in mind for Blackboard. Perhaps we'll soon see an algorithm for an individual's influence on his or her neighborhood.