San Diego Startup Tracks Your Social IQ (Influence Quotient), Looks to Raise Capital

With the flip of a switch, a Web 2.0 startup that began life in mid-2009 has launched, a new beta website that also marks the San Diego company’s change to a new identity. Originally known as Soovox, the company now known as SocialIQ is making a strategic adjustment to align its corporate brand with its Web-based service, which measures users’ online influence.

“With Soovox, we made the mistake of trying to do too much with our limited resources,” says Akram Benmbarek, SocialIQ’s founding CEO. “Today we’re focusing on influence measurement, and helping brands engage their audience through their influential fans.”

With the mid-course correction, Benmbarek says he also wants to raise a round of Series A capital from venture investors—and therein lies the rub. Benmbarek and his team are keenly aware that they are competing with better-known startups like Klout, which measures online influence, and MyLikes, which uses online leaders in social media marketing.

But the evaporation of San Diego’s hometown venture capital has put SocialIQ at a disadvantage, according to Edward Isarevich, SocialIQ’s director of marketing and product development. “While innovating at a greater pace than our competitors in the Bay Area, they are the ones getting the funding,” Isarevich says. “Therefore we are seriously considering moving to the Bay Area, which would be a loss for the local economy.”

Benmbarek expects the choice will become apparent in coming months, as SocialIQ builds out the features and services of its new website, which was launched late Thursday. He has personal reasons for staying here—his wife wanted to live in San Diego when they married—and their family has become established here.

Akram Benmbarek

On the other hand, Benmbarek says he was previously living in Silicon Valley. He says he worked on late-stage financing of technology companies at Advanced Equities Financial Corp. Before that, he was working in wealth management at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and UBS. He says he has raised less than $1 million in seed capital—mostly from angel investors in the valley.

Benmbarek originally called the company Soovox—your voice—with the idea of creating an online social media platform empowering consumers to make their voices heard. The startup officially launched a beta version of its Soovox website in November, 2010. Its proprietary “Social Influence Quotient” (Social IQ) was just one component of its overall service, although Benmbarek says it has been the most important component of the company’s strategy.

The company says its Social IQ is based on a proprietary program that measures a user’s influence—drawing from key social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace—and calculating the user’s Social IQ based on more than 50 variables that “bubble up” into their Social IQ.

In addition, the company intended its Soovox website to become a destination site for consumer brand reviews. The founders created … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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