After One Year in Beta, Public Messaging Platform Tawkers Releases Native iPhone App
Tawkers (www.Tawkers.com), which is emerging from Beta with the release of its native iPhone app today, is a simple messaging platform that allows two people to have a public instant message conversation for a live audience.
In 2011, Tawkers Co-Founder and CEO Blake Ian observed that, for lack of any better options, peo-ple were trying to engage in substantive, public conversation on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, that weren't designed to accommodate it. That realization led to Tawkers, a platform that is custom-built to house organized online discussion. The two-way exchanges on Tawkers resemble the ones we have every day via private texts and IMs, except these "Tawks" are streaming live for the world's enjoyment and benefit.
Here's a short video showing how Tawkers works: http://vimeo.com/87722147
The company raised over $1 million in angel investment as of its Beta release in early 2013, which has led to the design and development of a web-app optimized for tablets, the assembly of a New York-based team, and the release of the native iPhone app.
"Every day you see people trying to have public conversations via Facebook threads or Tweet replies, but these platforms weren't built for that purpose, and the final result is usually a fragmented, disjointed, messy conversation that's difficult for outside observers to follow and enjoy," says Tawkers creator and CEO Blake Ian. "On Tawkers, two people are able to come together to have and share an organized conversation that adds real value to whoever's reading. The conversations created so far on the app have been hilarious, heartwarming, educational, shocking, inspiring, enlighten-ing... everything we hoped for and expected when first shaping the idea. We're so excited to see what people do with it now that it's available at their fingertips on mobile."
These public, two-way conversations are called "Tawks", and they require two people in order to start: a Host and a Co-Host. This requirement encourages real dialogue as opposed to one-way diatribes and missives, which already occur all across the web. The public nature of these Tawks means any-one can read them, either live as the conversation is occurring, or anytime after the fact. If watching live, readers have the option to make comments or ask questions of the two Hosts, who have the ability to "spotlight" audience commentary and respond to it directly if they choose. When two people of interest come together in conversation, it often draws a huge live audience, and lots of real-time interaction. If reading the conversation after the fact, a Tawk can be consumed and enjoyed just like an article or essay. A Tawk remains up forever at its original URL as a public document of conversation.
The "Spotlight" functionality is powerful tool that allows the two Hosts to cherry pick comments and questions from the comment section and thread them right into their conversation and respond directly. A spotlight is the ultimate achievement for an audience member on Tawkers, it's like a re-tweet on steroids. This feature provides an incentive to make the Tawk as participatory as possible, while also creating a clear delineation between those leading the conversation and those reading it. The Tawk model empowers two people to take the stage and lead a clear conversation that is free of noise and trolling, because they're able to personally curate the commentary that makes its way into the main discussion.
About Tawkers: Tawkers is a messaging platform that allows two people to have a public instant message conversation for a participatory audience. The idea occurred to Co-Founder and CEO Blake Ian while having an in-depth text conversation with a friend about a new film and thinking to himself, "People might want to read this!". The thought became reality when Ian founded Tawkers in 2011. Prior to its founding, Ian had over a decade of experience in IT and social media management, having most recently served as the Chief Technology Officer and Social Media Director at a bi-coastal public relations and communications firm, SHADOW PR. It was here that Ian met the company's co-founder, Rachael Workman, who worked as a publicist at the firm's hospitality division. By the fall of 2012, Blake and Rachael had raised over one million dollars in angel investment alone and hired additional development resources to build Tawkers Beta. Tawkers is now moving out of Beta staffed with an in-house development team and additional marketing and business staff. Hulu and TMZ creator Sab Kanaujia has also joined the startup's Board of Directors. Tawkers is available on desktop, tablet and native iPhone app.
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