Klout – the developer of a social media reach measurement tool best known for declaring pop singer Justin Bieber more influential than Barack Obama – has just raised $8.5 million in a new funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
The three-year-old company will use the money to improve its algorithms, increasing the number of services used to crunch its scores. Currently, the site principally analyzes Twitter and Facebook data to come up with scores to measure the size of someone’s engaged audience, the likelihood their content will generate a response, and the level of influence of their followers.
Who comes out on top? Recent Klout Scores, on a scale of 1 to 100, show 16-year-old tween heartthrob Bieber with the highest score at 100, well ahead of Barack Obama, at 87, who also trails Lady Gaga, at 91. Now, of course, that doesn’t mean Klout is saying Bieber and Gaga are more powerful. No one’s expecting them to hammer out the next nuclear disarmament treaty. But when it comes to Twitter followers, retweets, Facebook views and other measurements of social media clout, their status is indisputable.
So, intrigued by the simplicity of assigning a single number to represent influence, I plugged in Twitter handles of some of the more prolific bloggers and tweeters in the venture capital world. It wasn’t a comprehensive survey – but even a small sample showed that some active VCs have garnered an impressively influential following.
• Topping the list was Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, whose Klout ranking of 75 makes him tied, for the moment, with Sarah Palin. Seems to me that number either overstates Wilson’s influence, understates Palin’s, or perhaps points to some error my methodology of looking up results by a single Twitter handle. But nonetheless, I wouldn’t argue that Wilson is someone with a lot of interesting ideas and a whole lot of followers who listen to them.
• Just below Wilson was Paul Kedrosky, author of the popular Infectious Greed blog and senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, with a Klout score of 74.
• Brad Feld, of Foundry Group, proved that one doesn’t need to be in Silicon Valley or Boston to attract lots of attention in the VC world. The Boulder-based VC, who writes the blog Feld Thoughts and is an active tweeter, has a Klout score of 64.
• What about the people funding Klout? They’re ranking a little lower in the social media clout department. John Doerr, KPCB’s best-known partner, has a Klout score of 53. Meanwhile Bing Gordon, who will take a board seat at Klout following the new funding round, has a score of 31.