In 2014, Lithium acquired Klout, the online reputation service, for what Fortune magazine reported was a $200 million price. The enterprise social community service said at the time that Klout could help its communities determine who has authenticated expertise when they deliver recommendations.
Yesterday afternoon, Lithium announced it had decided to “sunset” the Klout service as of May 25.
Interestingly, that is also the date that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect.
Lithium CEO Pete Hess, who assumed that role three months ago, told me via email that “we looked at Klout and saw a branded product that is, in reality, an enabling feature within our core solutions.”
The primary reason for ending Klout, he said, is that Lithium delivers solutions for customer service and “Klout, a standalone consumer-facing service, no longer fit that focus.” It’s not clear how Klout fit that same focus four years ago.
He added that “recent discussions on data privacy and GDPR are further expediting our plans to phase out the Klout service, giving us a chance to lead on some of the issues that are of critical importance to our customers: data privacy, consumer choice and compliance.”
The implication here, of course, is that evaluating people’s reputation, expertise and credibility without their complete consent raises questions under GDPR.
Hess noted that AI and machine learning capabilities obtained in the Klout purchase will continue to be developed, such as for measuring social impact on Twitter.