By Lora Kolodny Lora Kolodny
Wall Street Journal
Thursday February 2, 2012
Internet security company TrustedID has acquired Reppler, a year-old technology start-up that helps consumers and brands manage their reputations on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, VentureWire has learned.
TrustedID CEO Scott Mitic has made a strategy shift with the company’s latest acquisition.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TrustedID’s flagship software and service was created initially to fight everything from spam to identity theft online. Named IDEssentials, TrustedID offers this service through partnerships with Suze Orman, Dell Computers, FICO, Intuit and others.
TrustedID Chief Executive Scott Mitic says the company will absorb Reppler’s social media-focused, reputation management features and services into its existing products but will shed the Reppler branding. It has hired all five full-time employees of Reppler, which is operated by SafeToBe.Me.
Mitic said the acquisition represents a sea change for his business: “When we started, it was safe to say we focused on identity theft. Now, we’re offering identity management help across the board.”
Reppler, which says it has 100,000 subscribers, was not yet a revenue-generating business, as the company offered its initial product as a “freemium” one, said Reppler founder and CEO Vlad Gorelik.
Reppler was seed-funded by Norwest Venture Partners, whose seed rounds are typically under $1 million.
Norwest General Partner Robert Abbott said: “We’re very happy with the deal. We think this is a great opportunity for Reppler to expand their distribution and gain awareness. And it’s a great new offering to expand TrustedID’s repertoire around individual identity protection overall.”
Abbott also noted, “With all of the excitement around the Facebook (IPO) filing, it’s easy to see that consumers are living more of their life online, and making it accessible to more people than ever. Things like Reppler will become increasingly important as this continues.”
TrustedID is backed by at least $10 million from Opus Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and individual investors, according to VentureWire archives.
Many users of social networks and connected or mobile apps do not monitor the way their reputation is building online. The executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, Michael Kaiser, explains what is at stake:
“It is hard to look down the line and see how, in five to ten years, what seems like an offhand comment or breezy response to someone on a social network now, can come back to haunt you, when you’re doing something like searching for a job, or trying to build a business or any number of important things you do online.”
In late 2011, TrustedID acquired Unsubscribe, which helps Web users easily see what apps and direct email lists they have subscribed to, and whether those were deemed safe, moderate or risky. The Unsubscribe apps and service also help users opt-out of unwanted Facebook apps or subscriptions with the click of a button.
Mitic says his company’s approach is to create and acquire new products, spending about as much on acquisitions as on development.