Little Bird Lands $1M

Wieden + Kennedy-incubated startup helps identify subject-specific influencers

Meet Little Bird, a social search startup unveiled today, and the latest from Wieden + Kennedy's Portland-based tech incubator to draw investment.

The company has raised $1 million dollars in a round led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The round also includes investments from StockTwits cofounder Howard Lindzon, former Twitter developer Blaine Cook, and Wieden+Kennedy itself.

Little Bird's technology is designed to help users identify the most influential social media personalities and publications around specific themes or subject matter, like "Mobile Ads" or "Beer." Built under the working title Plexus Engine, Little Bird was founded by former TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb journalist Marshall Kirkpatrick, and is based in Wieden + Kennedy's Portland office. Part of the third class of the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), which also receives support from Google, Little Bird received help from the agency with its design, and rebranding. The new name, which Wieden + Kennedy suggested, derives from the idiom, "A little bird told me."

Other funded graduates from PIE include Urban Airship, which helps mobile app publishers communicate with users, and Cloudability, which helps businesses manage their spending on cloud-based software services.

Little Bird layers its own algorithms over Twitter's people search API to determine which top accounts are following and followed by each other. The thinking: Those influential voices followed by or following the highest number of other influential voices are likely to be the most credible on their areas of expertise. Little Bird's platform allows users to search by topic, and suggests Twitter handles to find similar accounts. It also lets users identify, filter, and search blogs that are influential around particular subjects, and has plans to work in products for searching LinkedIn and Google+.

Kirkpatrick said Little Bird sold 24 subscriptions in beta, but declined to name to which companies. Today's unveiling will allow the public to see sample reports, and open the company up for more inbound business, Kirkpatrick says—it's already received some 4,000 requests for information, and over the next three months will be trickling more people into the service based on those inquiries and new ones, before becoming generally available in January 2013. Its services are aimed at PR and marketing agencies or departments, as well as media companies.

Subscriptions may be priced at around $50 a month for individuals, $250 a month for companies with fewer than 500 full-time employees, $1,000 per month for companies with 500-1,000 full-time employees, and TBD on a custom basis for larger organizations. Little Bird, currently four full time employees and three contractors, is hiring sales people to help field new business, Kirkpatrick said.

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.