When you’ve got Evan Williams, John Borthwick, and Max Levchin chatting it up on your “curated discussion platform,” it’s probably just a matter of time before the high-powered investors,
incubators makers, and other loosely-defined collectives come a’ calling.
Today, Branch, the startup that initially launched in New York City as group blogging service Roundtable, announced that is now partnered with Obvious Corp and picked up investments from Lerer Ventures and SV Angel. Although Branch has been working out of Obvious headquarters since the beginning of this year, the startup will move to Betaworks this summer. Cofounder Josh Miller’s announcement is somewhat obliquely worded, but it sounds like Rick Webb, Lucas Nelson, Ryan Freitas, and David Tisch also joined the round.
The size of the round wasn’t disclosed. However, this Form D SEC filing for Roundtable Media (the startup’s original name) filed by Joshua Alexander Miller, seems to indicate that the size of the round was $1,999,997 and fully subscribed. The address on the Form D, for example, is the same address as Obvious Corp. According to the Form D, the funding was an equity round with seven investors and the date of first sale is listed as February 15th. We have reached out to Mr. Miller for confirmation.
In Obvious Corp’s post about the new partnership, the company makes it sound like a Quora for experts:
The prototype, called Branch (formerly Roundtable), enables a smart new brand of high quality public discourse. Curated groups of people are invited to engage around issues in which they are knowledgeable. This service holds the promise of a new platform for dialogue on the web—a necessary departure from the monologues we have grown so accustomed to reading online. Obvious is thrilled to be partnering with such a friendly, gifted team on this project.
The “Branch” about the partnership announcement, for example, includes Obvious Corp’s Evan Williams, Mr. Miller, and tech journalists like Eric Eldon, Sarah Lacy, and Claire Cain Miller. What, no Betabeat? Ms. Lacy didn’t waste any time pointing out the competitive landscape:
“seems like several companies have tried to do closed, high-brow conversations as a reaction to mass communities that don’t scale. none of them seem to catch on. thinking of things like gather and that one in so. cal now that i have used so infrequently i can even remember the name of it.”
Mr. Miller’s response:
“I spoke with Brian (Namesake) and Cody (Nerd Collider) months ago, and learned a lot about the hurdles they faced. One way we’re different: we’re focusing on the interaction between participants, not the interaction between participants and viewers.
But the starting point for us is this: every other publishing platform is centered around monologues, the conversation is always secondary. That doesn’t seem right to us. So we’re flipping that dynamic on its head.”
Not invited to the conversation, but still wondering what sets Branch apart? You’ll have a chance to pepper Mr. Miller and his cofounders Hursh Agrawal and Cemre Güngör when they move back this summer. As Mr. Miller writes, “We could not be more excited to rejoin the New York tech community.”