Given the market, this deal makes sense: Corporate social network builder Lithium Technologies has acquired social content-filtering service Keibi Technologies for an undisclosed amount.
Lithium, to be clear, builds consumer-facing social networks for major brands. These are not corporate intranets, these are sites that come with a bunch of plain-vanilla features like profiles and forums, where users can ask questions, share information and get answers from companies including Dell, Motorola and Symantec.
In total, Emeryville, Calif.-based Lithium said it received 10 billion page views and 60 billion messages last year — it has a lot of content to filter. So you can see how Keibi, which got its start trying to monitor and filter porn out of large social networks, fits in. It could help companies keep angry consumers from posting offensive photos and such within their Lithium-powered sites.
Keibi was founded by former employees of social networking Piczo, after they saw the problems that site had filtering porn. Piczo became a customer, so did AOL-owned Bebo. But larger social networks like Facebook built their own, in-house filtering and user service departments. I asked Keibi and Lithium how they view the market — my first thought was that Keibi got acquired because some of its biggest potential customers no longer look likely to use it. Not so much, apparently. Lithium says it can still serve consumer-facing brands. Its response to my question:
The power of social networking and media for enterprises is actually with their customers on the broader social web – this allows enterprises to dramatically affect their bottom lines by allowing them to rapidly discover new revenue streams and insights by listening to customer discussions on the web; to increase word of mouth marketing and sales by mobilizing their advocates online; and to dramatically reduce support costs and improve loyalty by allowing customers to answer each other’s questions. Brands – or enterprises – are trying to reach all of their customers wherever they are on the social web. With this lens, Keibi’s technology could serve the market for content created in consumer-facing social networks as well as enterprise-customer communities across the web.
Lithium raised $9 million in a first round of funding from Shasta Ventures and Emergence Capital Partners in 2007. It raised a second round of $12 million led by Benchmark Capital with its existing investors participating. Keibi raised $6 million in 2007 from Catamount Ventures and Hunt Ventures. The two companies aren’t disclosing the terms of the deal, except to say that “[t]he transaction was a natural fit from the perspective of all shareholders and stakeholders and has integrated Keibi employees well.”