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How Klout Got Klout.com

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While everyone is making up their minds about whether Klout is an utterly meaningless service or the divine “standard for influence” the world has been clamoring for, I had an interesting chat with Klout co-founder and CEO Joe Fernandez the other day at the F.ounders conference in Dublin, Ireland.

When I informed him that, if anything, I think that the name of the company was well chosen, he told me the story of how he obtained the domain name klout.com. Since I have a huge interest in that type of small behind-the-scenes story – and in domain names – I loved it and found it interesting enough to be worth sharing here.

When the company started out a few years ago in New York City, Fernandez’ first and top choice for a name was Klout, so he registered klout.net and tried to get in touch with the owner of klout.com, who was based in San Francisco.

Klout was still a long way of getting funded or making money, so Fernandez offered the owner $1,000 of his own money for the domain name. The owner responded by laughing at him, suggesting it was worth ‘high five figures’ and saying he had plans to build something for it.

For the next year and a half, Fernandez harassed the owner every week to try and convince him to sell the domain name. Then, in August 2009, Fernandez decided to move the company from NYC to San Francisco. Around that time, Klout also raised its first round of seed funding: a check from angel investor Nova Spivack, which Fernandez cashed, keeping the cash in his apartment. Much to the dismay of his team and hosting company, he tells me.

Next, Fernandez started following the owner of klout.com on Twitter, waiting for him to reveal his location. When the guy at one point tweeted that he was at a restaurant in San Francisco, Fernandez went there, threw an envelope with $5,000 in cash on the table and told him that he would stop bothering him if he finally agreed to sell the domain name in exchange for the money.

The guy agreed, and Fernandez opened up his laptop and took care of the domain transfer right then and there, leaving the restaurant ten minutes later.

He then tweeted this:

Admittedly, some will think this was slightly creepy and obnoxious behavior. I, on the other hand, think it’s awesome. Real entrepreneurs, after all, know how to hustle.