Back when we were an accountant and a lawyer, my now cofounder Ari Gold and I used to exchange lengthy emails every day about sports, politics, business and pop-culture, and we lamented the fact that we didn’t have an easy way to publish these conversations. Sure, there were content platforms like WordPress, BuzzFeed & Medium to publish posts, and communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to discuss these posts with friends, followers and community members. We didn’t have the time or flexibility to record a podcast that no one would download. There simply wasn’t an easy, compelling way for us — just the two of us — to publish our own conversations as content that rest of the world could follow it unfolded.
Then we noticed that some of of our favorite writers like Sam Harris & Glenn Greenwald and Bill Simmons & Malcolm Gladwell were doing just that, emailing back and forth for several weeks and then cutting, pasting and formatting the completed email exchanges as content on their site.
So much of what we consume on TV, on talk radio/podcasts and at conferences are expert panels, moderated debates, interviews and fireside chats. But despite this being a proven format for decades offline, it has no parallel online. That’s why most interviews we read online do not have the dynamic give-and-take that made the Bill Simmons & Malcolm Gladwell conversations so compelling. Today, content creators publish interviews consisting of predetermined questions and answers with no follow ups or go to the trouble of conducting in person interviews which they then must transcribe.
We wanted more content to looks like Bill Simmons & Malcolm Gladwell and Sam Harris vs. Glenn Greenwald. So, along with our CTO Emanuel Ilyayev, we built ReplyAll to make hosting interviews, panels & debates as easy as emailing your friends! (no manual cutting and pasting out of email chains or transcribing long in person interviews) with a visually engaging interface that allows readers to follow along like a fly-on-the-wall as the conversation unfolds. Like an email exchange, participation is asynchronous, so no one has to coordinate schedules or block off time and, since no one has to rush, the conversations tend be more thoughtful and nuanced. It is an easier, better way to create interviews, panels & debates. Plus, ReplyAll conversations drive great engagement in both time on page (10 minutes plus) and, when published as ongoing content, repeat visitors (2-3 page views per unique reader).
Before actively launching ReplyAll to the world, we decided to get in the driver’s seat ourselves. So we built a partnership with Abovethelaw.com, a site I read religiously while practicing law, and every week over the past year I’ve been publishing conversations there with a variety of really interesting people including New York Times best selling author John Grisham, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King and Y Combinator partner Carolynn Levy. I’ve personally used ReplyAll to interview Mark Cuban, debate The Atlantic’s David Frum on marijuana legalization and, last week, I used ReplyAll to publish a conversation on TechCrunch with Y Combinator president Sam Altman.
In the last year, ReplyAll conversations have appeared on over 250 sites like Boston.com, The Houston Chronicle and SB Nation. ReplyAll is also being put to work by businesses and organizations including a Stanford University think tank, corporate blogs and non-profits. And we have been using our own experience as well as the feedback from our early users to tweak and improve our product — so that we continue to get rave reviews from the content creators and their readers.
We are publicly launching ReplyAll this week. Our vision is a web flowing with thoughtful, nuanced dialogue between journalists, bloggers, influencers and thought leaders. We invite the world to join us and make #greatconversations.