Despite all the communication channels available on the web, aren’t we all a little starved for some real conversation? No shouting at one another, no sounding off into the oblivion, but actual dialogue as if seated at the table together. Recently launched startup Branch.com, hopes to give public conversations a better place to grow.
Branch.com is a platform for social conversation. Members bring in content from around the web – videos, articles, tweets, etc. – and initiate discussions, or a new Branch, with others by way of email or Twitter. Yes, Branch works a lot like Twitter, and is closely tied to its sibling company (see more below). Instead of the Twitter 140 character bursts, however, Branch.com aims to facilitate more meaningful exchanges.
New conversation threads or branches from initial topics allow talk to diverge into giving advice, commentary, or incorporating other web materials. Different media enables…(note the absence of a term for this new kind of membership) users to clarify points or enlarge topics. And of course there’s always room for feedback, allowing for more roundtable like discussions.
It’s hard to articulate our ideas in less than 140 characters. Yet many of us aren’t in the habit of sculpting our thoughts into more involved pieces ready to share online. Branch encourages people to write like they’d talk, or write in a manner that falls somewhere in between a blogger’s text and the off-the-cuff shots common on Twitter – in other words, like most of us would talk with our friends over dinner or coffee.
Branch embeds on websites like Tumblr and WordPress, so it’s easy for communication to spill back and forth across sites. A bookmarklet moves Twitter posts into the realm of Branch conversations quickly. When a friend is added to a branch, that person’s friend join in as well. Branch is out on a limb in the sense that it will be somewhat difficult to keep conversation from becoming a free for all like it is elsewhere. Remaining informal without diluting the quality of the content is one of the larger challenge the startup faces.
A conversation about proposed menu changes at the acclaimed restaurant Eleven Madison Park highlight the platform’s potential to foster a healthy discussion as an alternative to ideas dictated by professional media or a collection of unmeasured opinions. See Branch at work in this example here.
This Tree Has Solid Roots
Branch started growing with a trio of founders, Josh Miller, Hursh Agrawal, and Cemre Güngör, first as the company Roundtable. After bootstrapping in NYC, they enlisted the help of Twitterers Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jason Goldman. The Branch team dug in in San Francisco, benefiting from the tutelage of Obvious Corp, and returned to the Big Apple in January.
Other notable advisors include Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed, Huffington Post), Ryan Freitas (About.Me), and MG Siegler (Crunchfund, Techcrunch). Joining some of the aforementioned with financial assistance are investors Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, David Tisch, Rick Webb, and Lucas Nelson. For more information, discover the “happy and sunny” team here.