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The new app Public is betting that people will read and share group chats. In an interview with Variety, Public CEO Avner Ronen predicted that while “chat has never been a spectator sport,” messaging apps will become a place to watch people communicate.
“We believe that, in addition to audio and video, messaging could become a third medium for broadcasting conversations,” Avner Ronen said upon launching the Public app and website. Prior to Public, Ronen created streaming video company Boxee, which was acquired by Samsung in 2013.
Anyone can make their own chat group but members of that group must decide if you get to join their group. All chats are public and can be shared in social media.
Watching a Public chat doesn’t have to be a totally voyeuristic experience. The Public audience can share text, photo, and video exclusively with members of a chat. Members of the chat group can then choose to post, ignore, or reply to a message from the audience.
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Headliners for Public conversations include producers and co-hosts of tech, culture, and business show Cheddar, created earlier this year by BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg.
The cast of the fourth season of SummerBreak, an AT&T-sponsored reality show that follows the lives of 11 Los Angeles teenagers during their final high school summer break, also uses Public.
There are chats about black art and literature, queer representation in politics, New York City comedians, and the Public team.
Public has raised about $2 million in funding since the company was created late last year, according to Variety.
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