Klout, the tech pioneer that measured people's social media star power, is shutting down after losing influence in an industry over which it once claimed to be the arbiter of influence.
The company invented the "Klout Score," which professed to measure a person's online influence based on their social media habits. The score was invented 10 years ago and became a contentious marker of social media standing and sometimes punchline. Many technophiles saw it as a badge of honor and made it a goal to win Klout's highest rating by growing their social media accounts and staying active online.
For others, Klout bestowed an undeserved sense of superiority on people for illusory achievements online. At one point, Klout scores were being used in weighing job applicants at some companies. Britney Spears once went to the company's headquarters in San Francisco demanding to know why her score was lower than Lady Gaga's.
However, in recent years as the industry built around social influence evolved, Klout became less and less relevant.
"Klout was supposed to be the barometer of influence and purveyor of real world value for any given consumer on social," says Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential. "At one time, hotels would give upgrades based on people's scores since they were quantified as important."
Brands got smarter about what data points were most important, Detert says.
"Klout was largely based on who was most active on social versus who had an engaged audience that fit a brand's consumer base," Detert says. "And influencers saw that someone who simply tweeted more often than them could have a higher Klout score, so they didn't put much stake in it."
Klout is shutting down on May 25, which also is the day new privacy regulations, known as General Data Protection Regulations, take effect in Europe. The new data regime in Europe undoubtedly will have an impact on how businesses like Klout and its parent company Lithium Technologies can conduct business.