When Lissn launched on stage at TechCrunch50 in September 2009, we described it as sort of a “broader Twitter meets a simpler Google Wave“. Well, like the latter, the idea behind Lissn never really caught on. By March of last year, the service decided to pivot a bit to be based more around individuals rather than specific conversations. But that didn’t really work either. So now, with version 3, they’ve decided to strip away basically everything.
Founder Myke Armstrong says that they started removing features after hearing author Eric Ries talk about creating a “minimum viable product”. He determined that Lissn, at its core, was simply about conversations, not the people having them or the topics they’re about. So here we have the new Lissn, which is sort of like a Chatroulette for conversations now.
If that sounds familiar, it’s a bit like what Omegle offers. And Armstrong isn’t shying away from that comparison. But he thinks it’s slightly more than that — he thinks it’s more like Twitter meets Omegle now. Essentially, Lissn now allows for three people to chat while any number of people can listen. The key is that all three people are anonymous except for two things: their location is shown (at the state level) and the site that they came from is shown (Twitter.com, for example). Eventually, the plan is to add other features as well.
Armstrong calls three the “magic number” for these type of conversations based on what he observed through Lissn up until now.
So will Lissn work this time around? The once red-hot Chatroulette angle cooled off almost as quickly. But some might say that was at least in part due to the exposed male genitalia aspect. At the very least, random anonymous conversations should lead to some really awkward ones. And it couldn’t be easier to start with Lissn now, as you don’t have to sign up at all. You just go there and start chatting.