Yes, it’s official: KLOUT, one of my top ten brands listed in 2014 BRANDS TO WATCH has been acquired by Lithium Technologies.

According to FORTUNE, the social score startup and provider of social customer experience solutions for the enterprise, was acquired in a deal valued at nearly $200 million.

FORTUNE also stated that according to two sources familiar with the matter, the deal is a mix of cash and Lithium private stock. (Lithium is gearing up for an IPO, which could happen as early as later this year.)

Lithium software powers amazing social customer experiences for more than 400 iconic brands including AT&T, BT, Best Buy, Indosat, Sephora, Skype and Telstra.

Klout’s history has been an interesting one. The startup was co-founded by CEO Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran in 2008 as a way to measure influence on the growing social Web. Individuals who signed up would receive a “Klout Score,” a numerical value between 1 and 100. In theory, the higher the Klout Score, the more social pull the user has.

Klout has also expanded with Klout for Business, a portal intended offering deeper analytics to brands, as well as content creation aggregation, so users could share articles and posts with their audience.

Congratulations to Joe Fernandez, co-founder and CEO of KLOUT, one of the top ten recipients of 2014 Brands to Watch posted below.


My 2014 BRANDS TO WATCH campaign has concluded successfully in Q1 with attention in the business media and fostering not-so-surprising business-building deals.

These exceptional innovators represented the worlds of art, fashion, finance, research, technology and writing. These are companies I’ve watched; some are one’s I know well and have believed in them

The leaders demonstrated unparalleled management, vision, innovation, 2013 financial results, and/or exceptional customer experience.

Thank you to these remarkable brands for participating in the 2014 campaign and for setting the gold standard for 2015:


View the top ten 2014 BRANDS TO WATCH below.


MailChimp is a high-performance marketing platform with a rock solid infrastructure to power email marketing. MailChimp is yet another fearless and responsive innovator among the recipients of my 2014 BRANDS TO WATCH list.

Co-Founders, Dan Kurzius and Ben Chestnut recognized the importance of their own data intelligence and user trends. Ever since launching the brand in 2001, Kurzius and Chestnut have demonstrated flexibility and industry-wide leadership. For instance, they looked at the rapidly changing mobile landscape, went through a rigorous redesign, and made MailChimp Mobile universal.

Mail Chimp is a great marketing tool. It provides an easy way for users to send email newsletters, manage subscriber lists and track campaign performance. Over 5 million people in 200 countries use MailChimp send more than 4 billion emails a month through MailChimp.

It offers a variety of basic and advanced features (like templates, list segmentation, a/b testing, geo-targeting and ROI tracking) and makes them accessible to the everyday user through automation and a competitive price point.

Its platform uses an open API and encourages other systems and web applications to integrate with its email-marketing engine.

Currently they offer integrations with systems such as PayPal, Google Analytics, Shopify, Magento, Salesforce and several others.

According to Ben Chestnut, “People just want to get their work done with whatever tools they can get their hands on. We just want to help them get that work done easily.”

Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Dan Kurzius, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer
512 Means Street NW
Atlanta, GA, 30318
Tel: 678.999.0141
Web: MailChimp.com


Mozilla is illuminated with vision, innovation and momentum. Mozilla launched over a decade ago with a far-sighted plan that was as radical as the Web itself: use open source and community to simultaneously create great software and build openness into the key technologies of the Internet itself.

2013 was an exciting year for the Web as Mozilla moved faster forward than the pace of the market and doubled down on mobile with Firefox OX, the mobile operating system. Why would Mozilla make a dramatic pivot from desktop software when its ubiquitous Firefox browser serves a 300+ Million user base?

Mozilla’s webmaker mission has always been fearless. It is focused on engaging and empowering the next 2 Billion smartphone users in emerging markets around the world. This spectacular market constitutes the people coming online for the first time.

“It’s critical that all these new mobile users have access to the openness and empowerment that the Web has brought to date. The mobile browser is a necessary piece of making sure this happens. We have been intent on making the change into mobile and reinvigorating our relationships with commercial players,” says Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation

Mozilla’s rapid shift toward commercial hardware partners includes ZTE, Alcatel and LG; and operator partners Telefonica, Deutche Telkom, Telenor and Telcom Italia Mobile. Firefox OX for Android surpassed 50 million downloads in 2013.

Leadership is the key to Mozilla’s values, principles and its ever-respected reputation for protecting the open platform. Did you know it is the most trusted Internet company for privacy?

It continues to change the world with technologists, thinkers and builders working together to create enormous scale, leverage and impact.

Get to know Mozilla.

Mozilla Corporation is the fifteen year old developer of open source products and technologies that improve the human experience. Best known for Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla uses technical excellence to build openness, innovation and decentralized participation into the Internet.

The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit, public benefit organization that builds software, communities and frameworks for openness and participation. The Foundation is home to one of the world’s largest open source projects.

Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation. Time magazine lists Mitchell Baker as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Baker ranks #3 in Bloomberg/Businessweek’s 25 most influential people on the Web. Mitchell was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society. She also received the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Social Impact.

Mitchell Baker, Executive Chair
Mozilla Foundation
650 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041
Website: mozilla.org
Blog: blog.mozilla.org
Twitter: @mitchellbaker
Twitter: @firefox
Tel: 650.903.2080


Pricing Engine is the most innovative digital advertising solution for very small businesses.

Jeremy Kagan and Yagmur Coker, the co-founders of Pricing Engine, launched the first digital advertising solution in March of 2013 to help Very Small Businesses (VSB’s) compete against big companies.

Small businesses owners, who often lack time and money, use Pricing Engine’s one-stop-shop to easily buy, manage, and optimize digital advertising campaigns across multiple channels including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Foursquare.

It’s the only platform, where VSB’s with small budgets can quickly create one campaign and push it to multiple ad channels.

Pricing Engine not only created the most comprehensive suite of ad channels for VSB’s, it also gives the most actionable and easy-to-understand results based on advanced peer benchmarking algorithms.

So, immediately after launching a campaign, small business owners receive a Report Card with simple letter grades that lets them know how their campaign is performing compared to other similar businesses.

The team launched a few ad channels with over a thousand customers last March, but has grown to eight ad channels and a reach of hundreds of thousands of customers with its multiple, major resellers. Based on their unique data, they are releasing ongoing reports about how small business use digital advertising.

Pricing Engine will spend 2014 further carving out its leadership in serving the Very Small Business (VSB) market of main street, local and startup businesses.

Kudo’s to Pricing Engine for simply improving digital advertising!

Pricing Engine
175 Varick Street, New York, NY 1001
Website: PricingEngine.com
Email: info@pricingengine.com
Tel: 415.617.9698


The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. It is the most visited art museum in New York State, outside of Manhattan, and a major driver of the Upstate New York tourism economy.

CMoG has become one of the most transformative brands in the American cultural landscape.

2013 was a prolific year. The Museum’s domestic and international growth was boosted with the Glass Lab in Paris; the Apollo Award for the most noteworthy museum acquisition (the rare and beautiful portrait inlay of Pharaoh Akhenaten); the Museum’s popular social media channel; a new science curator; and a $1.5 million grant from New York State to fund the creation of a new international motor coach entrance where 40% of the annual 400,000 visitors are welcomed each year.

The Museum’s world-changing innovations in 2013 prepared the stage for a crowning achievement in 2014.

The centerpiece of 2014 is the much anticipated opening of the North Wing. The $64 million, 100,000 square foot addition, scheduled to open in December, has been managed by Marie McKee, an accomplished business leader whose expertise has fostered the transformation of CMoG.

Strategic vision and innovative leadership warrant Corning Museum of Glass a key position in the 2014 BRANDS TO WATCH 2014 list.

Read more:
Apollo Award
Glass Lab in Paris
Marie McKee
New York State Grant
North Wing Addition
Portrait – Pharaoh Akhenaten
Science Curator

Yvette Sterbenk
Senior Manager, Communications
The Corning Museum of Glass

One Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830
Website: CMoG.org
Blog: http://blog.CMoG.org
Email: info@CMoG.org
Tel: 800.732.6845 or 607.937.5371


If you are like me, you need effective tools for measuring your clients’ creative marketing campaigns and reporting ROI. Have you ever been introduced to a toolset that also measures your online influence?

KLOUT is on my list of BRANDS TO WATCH in 2014 because it is the premiere driver of brand influence today.

Active web users create 500 billion influence impressions every year about products, brands and services. KLOUT’S business tools empower marketers to identify and engage with millions of top influencers increasing earned media and improving brand lift.

The world’s best brands already use KLOUT FOR BUSINESS to target and engage top influencers, amplify messages and increase marketing ROI. Impressive success stories are available on KLOUT.COM including brands like Motorola, American Airlines, Doritos, SYFY, Olympus Has Fallen, GILT, Red Bull, CAA, SONY, and more.

Co-founders Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran are Web experienced serial entrepreneurs who have built a great brand; a highly resourceful team and thrive on big, complex challenges.

KLOUT’s first seed amount was $1.5M in 2009 and funding moved forward to Series A, $1.5M in 2010; Series B, $8.5M in 2011; and series C, $30M in 2012 for a total of $40M.

Microsoft engaged in a venture round in 2012 bringing the BING search opportunity to the toolset. More equally savvy relationships are in the mix.

TechCrunch writes that KLOUT hasn’t just defied influential tech pundits, its social reputation has won them over. 2014 is sure to produce even greater recognition and increased growth from individuals and businesses. KLOUT is an exceptional brand that defines influence and is well-executed and brilliantly managed.

Website: Klout.com
Blog: Klout.com/blog
Twitter: @klout
Email: Contact@Klout.com
Office: 77 Stillman Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: 415-520-3951


“There’s no such thing as a person who can’t write. I’ve met people who hate to write, and I’ve met people who think their writing is no good. But I’ve never met anyone who can’t write. Anyone can write, and anyone can write anything they need to.” So says Laura Brown, the author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide, coming from W. W. Norton this spring. Laura has nearly 30 years’ experience teaching writing to just about everyone, from high school students to CEOs. “We’re all writing more than ever before,” she says, “and my mission is to help people become competent and confident writers.”

How to Write Anything is designed to help the broadest possible audience. With more than two hundred how-to entries and easy-to-use models organized into three comprehensive sections on work, school, and personal life, the book covers a wide range of topics that make it an essential guide for the whole family. It also offers an innovative approach to the writing process that can be used for any writing task. Grounded in a common-sense approach, friendly and supportive, How to Write Anything is Internet-savvy, with advice throughout about choosing the most appropriate medium for your message: e-mail or pen and paper.

How to Write Anything is more than a book. It is also a branded entity with a long reach.

Laura is developing www.howtowriteanything.com as a rich resource for all kinds of writing advice. It offers a free downloadable report, “The Five Most Common Writing Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them.” There are also free resources on grammar, punctuation, overcoming writer’s block, and specific writing tasks. The How to Write Anything blog offers more support and advice. A weekly newsletter of writing tips is launching later this month.

A suite of online video courses is also under development. The first, “How to Overcome Writer’s Block,” is available at Udemy.com. Courses on how to edit your own writing and how to create effective resumes are currently in the works.

Laura also offers training and coaching for individuals and small groups, as well as consulting on communication strategies for organizations.

According to Laura, “writing ability can mean the difference between success and failure for individuals and organizations. If you can get your point across clearly and concisely in writing, you can reach the audience you want to reach and motivate people to act. It’s not that hard to learn. My goal is to give you the writing skills you need to stand out from the crowd.”

Click here to read a review of the book from Kirkus Reviews.

Laura Brown has written the ultimate guide for anyone who needs to create clear, concise, and compelling written communications. With all of its dos and don’ts, good and bad examples, and perfect models, the book not only teaches good writing, it’s like having a virtual ghostwriter looking over your shoulder and helping you craft the perfect message. Students, business people, and even seasoned professional writers should keep WRITE ANYTHING handy, right between their dictionary and thesaurus.
Michael Snell Literary Agent, Writing Collaborator, and author of FROM BOOK IDEA TO BESTSELLER

Laura Brown, Ph.D., Author
Website: www.howtowriteanything.com
Blog: www.howtowriteanything.com/blog/
eMail: laura@howtowriteanything.com
Pre-purchase Book: Amazon


AVATAR RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S (ARI) raison d’être is boosting innovation in a global environment. This remarkable think tank is launching its brand in 2014 and has been building its business model for nine years. AVATAR received a 501C3 nonprofit designation in 2013 and is set to cultivate the art of thinking together through designing environments for new knowledge creation and strengthening the innovation ecosystem.

Anna Duran, AVATAR’s visionary founder and recognized social scientist, realized the demand for cultural knowledge across sectors that include corporate, small business, government and national security.

One of AVATAR’s goals is to develop and implement a technology framework for quick access to global and cultural-based data and information. The ease in which this type of material can be gathered across sectors is becoming critical to the formation and success of research, practice and policy development projects that focus on boosting innovation in and implementing solutions to complex socio-political problems.

A second cornerstone of AVATAR is to develop the leadership preparation and performance of the STEM workforce, which as a result, can greatly improve the retention rates of women, minorities and international high ability talent within R&D environments. ARI has designed and developed global STEM team assessment tools that provide insight into key areas that improve innovation and idea formation processes in working teams.

Dr. Duran has gathered together key policy makers, researchers and educators to illuminate the think tank. Serving on the Board of Directors are Daryl Chubin, Candice Hughes, Cindy Leiton and Jolynn Shoemaker; all of whom have been instrumental in planning a portfolio of implementation projects for AVATAR RESEARCH INSTITUTE.

AVATAR’s commitment to developing new researchers and policy makers through its innovative cross-sector programs to work across disciplines and national boundaries are the reasons AVATAR RESEARCH INSTITUTE is a BRAND TO WATCH in 2014.

Anna Duran, Ph.D, Founder and President
Website: http://avatarresearchinstitute.org
Email: globemgt@msn.com

Tiger 21

In 1999, Michael Sonnenfeldt developed the concept for TIGER 21 after having not received the objective advice he was searching for regarding the management of his wealth after his liquidity event. This was the year he brought together a group of peers struggling with the similar challenges of wealth preservation. After the first electric meeting with six founding Members, “The Group knew they had a winning formula to harness the collective intelligence of the ultra-wealthy.”

Now almost in its fifteenth year, TIGER 21 (The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century) has become the premier peer-to-peer learning network for high-net-worth investors.

TIGER 21 is an extraordinary brand to watch in 2014. The collective personal assets managed by TIGER 21 Members recently topped $21 Billion. What the Members are investing in and what they are thinking has become increasingly of interest.

The collective intelligence of TIGER 21 Members has been on full display in the press with the release of The Fourth Annual TIGER 21 Member Favorites Survey including the most valued investments and managers. Bloomberg exclusive story. TV Episode. NY Times article.

2014 is the year that TIGER 21 is set to be synonymous with intelligent high-net worth investing.

Alison R. Smith
Director – Member Relations
Collective Intelligence: Enhancing Results, Enriching Lives®
Website: Tiger21.com
Email: Alison.Smith@tiger21.com