For years I have been writing about reputation and have often said that this will be the decade of the reputation economy. Yet until recently there has been very little in the space. The social media measurement systems such as Klout and PeerIndex have limited data scope and while they talk the language of reputation actually measure influence. Honestly.com is a more pure play in the individual reputation space, but has got limited traction so far.
In recognition of the massive opportunity in the reputation space we have been building a stealth start-up Repyoot (holding page only for now), which will shortly be launched as a limited scale influence ratings engine, with the intention of morphing into a generalized reputation engine.
In developing the service and discussing it with VCs, we have always seen the most obvious latent competitors in the reputation measurement space as Google and LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s recommendation service is a long way from a true reputation service, but it provides a foundation for building one. Google’s depth of data, positioning, and mentality mean that it is well-positioned to develop an individual reputation service. While it is probably not related, I know that Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, has been very interested in reputation services for some years, as one of the services that would be of most value in helping developing regions.
In this context, from the Edinburgh TV Festival Andy Carvin reported Google chairman’s Eric Schmidt’s response to his question about Google+’s real names policy:
He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.
So what products can be built on people’s real identities? The most obvious one is a reputation engine.
There is immense value to a good reputation engine. Most importantly it can dramatically reduce transaction costs in finding suppliers and business partners to create a far more fluid economy. While Google+ is not currently positioned to provide social reputation measures, it could certainly facilitate interactions in communities.
Fred Wilson says about Schmidt’s comments:
It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them?
In fact there can be massive value from a good reputation engine. Arguably people will seek to game a reputation engine even more than a search engine – it is not going to be difficult to get it right. Certainly Google will benefit immensely. But they do it well they won’t be the only ones.