Taking Avner Ronen's Newly Launched Public To Search

Some ideas never die -- they just morph into newer versions. Not that I think we need another public chat forum, but apparently Avner Ronen did. He founded Public, a mobile app that provides an open forum for people to search, discover and participate in conversations. The app launched Friday. It's similar to Reddit or the app called Talk Show that lets you broadcast text conversation in public.

I can see advertisers getting involved or using the app as a place to discover idiosyncrasies about consumers who may or may not use their brands. Brands could start a Public chat and then run paid-search ads to promote the forum.

Ronen points to a couple of existing chats in a post on Medium that provide insight into how brands could use this platform. From Fullscreen and AT&T, for example, @summerbreak, follows the fourth season of the show as 11 L.A.-based high school juniors go through their last high school summer break together. Or Cheddar, a show about technology, media, and entertainment where the host and producers chat among themselves and sometimes interview CEOs and founders.

Ronen, a serial entrepreneur, spent years trying to reinvent TV. He founded Boxee, a streaming set-top box and Web-TV platform, and then sold to Samsung for a reported $30 million in 2015.

Think of Public as a group discussion with an audience -- a cross between text messages and YouTube, where brands and "talent" pair up to explore the world around us. The site doesn't support full video for live streaming, but give it time. That would make it more like Twitter's Periscope, which introduced a live-stream button for everyone using Android or iOS apps.

Public also reminds me a little of the original AOL public chat forums, but unless you’re a member of that chat or accepted as a guest you remain an audience member with no way to add feedback.

There are basic tools for audiences to react, comment, ask questions, and request to join the chat as a guest.

While there is potential in the app, Ronen likens Public to a more grandiose evolution of the radio, which he describes as making it possible to broadcast and share conversations with the public for the first time. Television then introduced a visual. But radio and television didn't allow individuals to join in the discussion. The two only allowed people to listen in or view the images.

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