With $100m+ buyout deal, Klout is suddenly popular again

Lithium Technologies said to be acquiring social media startup


Klout, the startup that claims to be able to measure users' influence on social media sites, has just gained a whole lot more influence of its own – at least $100m worth.

Re/Code reports that Klout has been acquired by "social customer experience" company Lithium Technologies in a cash-and-stock deal valued "in the low nine figures."

Lithium claims its métier is helping companies "unlock the passion of their customers," which is a self-important way of saying it sets up and runs their online communities and social media campaigns for them.

What it wants Klout for, however, isn't immediately clear.

A quick visit to Klout's website reveals that this Reg hack has a "Klout score" of 34 – though as far as he can tell, that and five cents gets him a nickel.

Klout's so-called popularity metrics have long been derided as appealing mainly to narcissists, to say nothing of being grossly unreliable. At one point, teenage pop star Justin Bieber was ranked as having more "influence" than the President of the United States, and one researcher found it was possible to use Twitter bots to "game" a perfect score.

But in addition to these dubious metrics, Klout also offers tools that allow businesses to use the data it has mined from social networks and search engines – which it estimates at 200 terabytes' worth – in their sales and marketing campaigns.

The company has published an API that allows developers to build apps that draw on its data, and it claims to process 50 billion API calls monthly. It also has ongoing partnerships with Salesforce.com and Microsoft's Yammer division to integrate its data with their products.

And after all, Klout's rumored sale price doesn't really sound all that spendy when you consider what other tech startups have been going for lately. If "low nine figures" means $100m, that's just a tenth of the $1bn Facebook shelled out for Instagram in 2012 – and these days, companies like Snapchat are even scoffing at that paltry sum.

According to Re/Code's sources, the deal for Lithium to acquire Klout has been inked but the sale has yet to close. Neither company immediately responded to El Reg's request for comment. ®

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