Empire Avenue Raises $1.2 Million To Turn Social Influence Into A Virtual Stock Market

Edmonton-based Empire Avenue, the stock market for social influence, announced today that it has raised $1.2 million in series A seed financing. The round was led by San Francisco VC firm Crosslink Capital, with contributions from iNovia Capital, TriplePoint Capital (which incubated Empire Avenue in Silicon Valley), as well as BioWare co-founders Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, among others.

According to the startup’s press release, “rather than buying a fancy zeppelin or, say, a tank full of diamond-clad singing sharks”, the team plans to use its new infusion of capital to ramp up hiring and expand its platform, including a focus on growing sales of virtual goods and currency. This is all well and good, but we in the tech community were all really pulling for singing sharks. Or at least monkey butlers. (There’s always the series B.)

Empire Avenue, which launched in early 2010, is a so-called “social stock market”, where users take the role of a company and their product value is determined by the level of your online activity and the networks one creates during daily webernets surfings. Essentially, the startup wants to encourage web users to jump start their own personal brands and make the most out of social network interaction (and have a little fun while doing it).

Like Klout, with the added benefit of buying and selling virtual shares in the personal brands of real, live human beings, Empire Avenue plugs into a range of sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Flickr, to show users the value of their influence and reach on popular social networks.

Users can also turn the value of their web-based contributions into actual revenue by tapping into an advertising platform used by the startup to deliver relevant and targeted ads, while buying and selling virtual shares in any other user is free. Pretty nifty.

As to a user’s personal score: Influence scores are equivalent to an individual’s share price on Empire Avenue, which is calculated by the degree to which a person’s brand is traded on the site over the course of the day, as well as the user’s contributions to their own blogs, websites, social media networks, etc.

Shareholders can rate those interactions, voting up quality contributions which affect the stock’s value, while shareholders are at the same time rewarded with virtual currency for successful investments.

In addition to scoring some new investment loot, the Canadian startup is also announcing today the addition of Foursquare and Instagram as sources of further metrics used to calculate a user’s influence and stock value. Not to mention the fact that it now has users in over 190 countries.

It’s an awesome service, so take it for a test drive and let us know what you think.