Online discussion is quickly outgrowing 140 characters, and as communities become more forum based, so too must the platforms. While one group of people may begin discussing a topic on Twitter in 140 characters or less, the same group—possibly including others—may want to take that discussion further. Enter Branch. The idea of taking a conversation further is what Princeton student Josh Miller and NYU student Hursh Agrawal came up with in 2011 when they teamed up with Cemre Güngör (designer) to found a company called Roundtable. The trio bootstrapped the company from New York City for four months, eventually moving to San Francisco in January 2012 to build the product with guidance from Obvious Corp.’s Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jason Goldman. In May, the company — now called Branch — returned to New York City and is currently a team of eight, whose product “Branch” is empowering people to talk about the world around them.
In a world full of Quoras and independent forums, Op-Ed sections, Twitter, Facebook, and more, Branch is seeking to build a platform with publishers in mind. Considering NPR as their inspirational background for great discussions, they realized something was missing. As The Awl’s Choire Sicha explains:
There’s a huge hole in how we have conversations online. The best thing about using Branch was that it let us bridge the gap between writers and readers. We get to bring these lively conversations into our site, instead of just “talking at” readers. Branch naturally allows members of a conversation to invite others, whether that be industry experts or any active member of a community, to take part.
According to Branch, their services are being used in articles and blog posts on sites like Nieman Lab, GigaOM, Eater, The Awl, and ReadWriteWeb. Branch allows someone to easily embed the conversation’s source code into their own blog’s CMS [content management system], and it updates in real time.
Most users discover Branch through Twitter. Naturally, many are mobile. Branch says an official mobile application is coming; it is a high priority for them, considering one out of every five users who visits is on a mobile device. In the meantime, Branch was developed their content to scale to mobile – one might add to home screen to create a web-app shortcut in lieu.
Access is currently invite-only, but you can head over to Branch’s homepage and request an invite; it shouldn’t take long to get a response!