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Mark Cuban lead VC in online-influentials startup Little Bird

The San Francisco startup, founded by former ReadWriteWeb reporter Marshall Kirkpatrick, helps media and PR companies discover who can most amplify their message.

A look at Little Bird, a just-launched startup aiming to identify influencers who can help spread marketing and media companies' messages. Little Bird

A new service aiming to help media and PR companies determine which influencers can best amplify their messages launched today, with Mark Cuban as lead investor.

Known as Little Bird, the San Francisco startup was founded by former ReadWriteWeb reporter Marshall Kirkpatrick. Cuban led the $1 million round, along with additional investment from the Social Leverage Group, Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah, and former Twitter engineer Blaine Cook.

For now, Little Bird is in private beta. In an e-mail to CNET, Kirkpatrick explained that the service is mainly used to help companies with their social-media or content-creation strategy. "For example, a large telecom company uses it to map out the communications online around each of their target markets," Kirkpatrick explained, "then they send those reports to the product marketing managers of the departments looking to build a marketing campaign."

At the same time, he added, advertising companies can use the service to figure out who the most credible people online are "around the themes of their advertisements, so they can read their content and create more credibly informed advertising content."

Introducing Little BIrd from Little Bird on Vimeo.

Kirkpatrick estimated that marketing and public relations together comprise a $300 billion annual market, and Little Bird hopes to boost the fortunes of the leaders in those fields. "Marketing and PR companies already spend hours, days, or weeks doing this kind of work manually," he said. "We automate all that work and help them spend that time on more high-value-added services. It's like the difference between walking an hour both ways to work each day and driving there in 10 minutes. You get more work done when the heavy lifting of the commute is taken care of with technology."

In the online influence space, some might consider Klout a competitor to Little Bird, but that controversial service is more aimed at creating an online popularity score, and not so much at figuring out who has the most credibility within certain topic-based communities.