The $2 Million Idea That Will Turn The Internet’s Monologues into Dialogues

The Internet has transformed into an open forum of discussion, commenting and sharing with the slow demise of once closed, elite spheres. So, when I heard about The Obvious Corporation’s partnership with Branch, I wondered how a high-brow, closed-forum concept would survive out in the great, big, open social media sphere. After a bit of investigative research it seems the idea just might actually work. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.




Obvious Branches Out

The Obvious Corporation (or just Obvious), is an idea incubator (it saw the birth of Twitter), and was re-launched last year by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, with Evan Williams and Jason Goldman.



Their first incubation project was Lift, and app development startup founded by Tony Stubblebine and Jon Crosby.


Obvious has now teamed up with NYC-based Branch (formerly known as RoundTable), a startup created by Josh Miller, Cemre Güngöre, and Hursh Agrawal, that has developed a prototype enabling collaborative action in the form of meaningful conversations.


Branch believes that the web has now given everyone a voice and that info democratization is wonderful, but not all information is knowledge. And, there is plenty of room for innovation.



So Branch has a mission to:

“Turn the Internet’s monologues into dialogues.”


How do they plan to do that? By inviting curated groups to start dialogues around issues they are knowledgeable in. This idea is to create a new platform for dialogue on the web to depart from the monologues we currently are accustomed to on the Internet.


By doing this, Branch hopes to see the web evolve to a point where, “we get smarter when we spend time engaging.”


The Problem with this Prototype

But wait? This just sounds like small groups of elites in a closed-discussion trying to out-knowledge one another. How does this benefit the web public?


Sarah Lacy from PandoDaily agrees. She posted on the beta’s forum about past failed companies with similar closed, high-brow conversation concepts, and challenged the team on how they would be any different.


The response was simple. By focusing on the interaction between participants and not participant and viewer, Branch hopes to “flip the dynamic around” and promote conversation rather than just monologues.


$2 Million Concept

Lerer Ventures and SV Angel want to be a part of the conversation, so they’ve thrown just under $2 million behind the idea in hopes to watch as the company works to increase the quality of information on the web.



Sounds like there’s plenty of talent and money to help this platform grow, so we’ll have to see if our selfish little tweets and status updates turn into more engaged group-oriented dialogue. For more on Branch, sign up here and check them out on Twitter.


Photo Credits / /