One of the major themes of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (see Chapter 16) is the need to preserve ones corporate and personal virtual reputation. I’ve long thought that there was a need for a business that would be a personal PR agent, which would monitor what’s being said about you and destroy any negative information.
That business has been launched: ReputationDefender. What I like about the model is that I think it addresses a real concern that people have (or should have). 10% of Internet searches are for proper names; you are being evaluated every day online. ReputationDefender’s main competition will be the same competition that PR firms have: people providing the service in-house instead of using an outside provider.
An interesting question they’ll have to address as they scale is verifying the identity of the person using the service. If I say that I want to monitor the activity of my child, who verifies that that person is my child? And this is a great tool for stalking and identity theft (as are ZoomInfo and many other online network services): perhaps I fill out a form indicating that I want to monitor the online activities of a certain individual, who may not be me personally. Verifying that a given credit card ties to the name of the person being investigated is an obvious way to verify identity, but of course large numbers of credit card numbers are stolen every year.
I agree with Pete Cashmorethat it would be preferable to offer a very basic automated tracking service for free to get people into the system – “entering your credit card details is a massive barrier for the casual visitor”. After all, people can easily use any search engine/blog reader to view discussion of their name across the net.
Overall, I’m positive on the company’s prospects.