Liz Gannes

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Mark Cuban Invests in Little Bird to Find Online Influentials

Little Bird launches today a service that goes deeply and geekily into the world of online influence to find people in social media who are trusted on various topics.

The service helps marketing, media and PR companies figure out who can best spread their message.

Little Bird was founded by Marshall Kirkpatrick, a former writer for ReadWriteWeb who started dabbling in these sorts of social media analyses before he left tech blogging and was drawn over to the dark side to start his own company.

The company is backed with $1 million in funding led by Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments and including Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage Group, Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah and early Twitter engineer Blaine Cook.

Where Klout ranks the social media world in a sort of universal popularity contest, Little Bird is much more focused on the long tail of people who are trusted within a community around a certain topic.

Little Bird analyzes social graphs — basically, who follows who on Twitter — to spit out long lists of influencers, even from within small communities. Then it compiles those people’s blog content to offer archival search within the experts in a field. “It’s almost like a robot librarian,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said the closest competitor is probably Traackr, but characterized that company’s process as more manual.

(By the way, the name for the Portland, Ore.-based start-up — which was formerly called Plexus Engine while in stealth mode — comes from the saying “a little bird told me,” not from the comedy show Portlandia’s excellent “Put a Bird on It” sketch. Though that would be fitting, too.)

After Twitter and blog content, Little Bird is adding LinkedIn, Google+ and academic research citations.

The service will have a free preview version and a corporate version starting at $250 per month. For now, it is in private beta.


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