Real-Time On-Topic Chat Platform Menshn Closes After Co-Founders’ Working Relationship Sours

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Don’t menshn the working relationship. Twitter-esque real-time chat platform, Menshn, is to close after around half a year. The platform launched back in June, initially aimed at capitalizing on the U.S. election — with the basic premise of serving people who want to have a real-time online conversation that stays on topic, rather than straying off piste and into cute cat photos.

The second rule in Menshn’s rulebook stated: “menshn is for talking on topic. We’re passionate about politics and we love debate. But if you harass, spam, clog feeds and so forth, we can delete your account without notice. So be like Fonzy and be cool.”

Menshn was the brainchild of former Conservative MP Louise Mensch teaming up with Luke Bozier, a former digital guru for Labour under Tony Blair. The pair own a 50:50 stake in the business, setting up a joint company — named MenschBozier Ltd — to run it. However their working relationship has since soured, and Mensch tweeted today that she “cannot work with [Bozier]” so “will be petitioning to wind the company up on a just and equitable basis.”

“Sad to see Menshn go,” she added. She also noted that she had explained her reasons further on Menshn but at the time of writing the site was unavailable (504 Gateway Time-out). Update: see below for her //byemenshn thread.

So what came between Bozier and Mensch? Not differences of opinion about Menshn’s roadmap, apparently. Rather, the problems appear to be personal. Issues arose after Bozier’s email was hacked and compromising personal details released, according to Bozier.

Bozier confirmed the end of Menshn in a post on his website today, in which he writes: “Louise and I no longer have anything resembling a working relationship, and she no longer wishes to run a company in which I own shares.”

He goes on:

I think we call this sort of business practice summary justice. Louise is judge, jury and god all rolled into one, and made a sweeping knee-jerk business decision based on something written online by a malicious hacker. Alas, I am forced to agree that we don’t have a basis for a working relationship, and frankly no longer wish to hold shares in a company she runs.

The shares issue is also cited by Mensch in a tweet in which she writes “contrary to assurances, Mr. Bozier decided to retain his share” — presumably responding to (and disagreeing with) his post.

Bozier concludes:

I had a great time building and launching menshn, despite the mountain-sized buckets of cyber-shit I got for my association with Louise. It was a great experience and some elements of the journey were really fun. I have written about some of them as part of a book on release later in 2013.

Menshn still has a dedicated community of users, and I thank them for their dedication. I’m sorry we weren’t able to turn it into something more sustainable. The idea – Twitter for topics – is a sound one and will be done very successfully by somebody else one day.

According to the Guardian, Mensch echoed some of Bozier’s sentiment in her own post on the site, saying she believes “the core idea” of “real debate in depth” was worthwhile. She also added that the site would remain up “for the rest of the day so all can exchange their details”.

Update: Mensch has tweeted further explaining her reasons for pulling the plug on Menschn now, saying: “Development was proceeding and plans ongoing. Business became unsustainable when Mr. Bozier changed his mind on share ownership. As we could not work together, and I felt no investment prospects.”

Update 2: Here is the Menshn thread where Mensch explains her reasoning for shuttering Menshn, and hints that she plans to start again “from scratch” on a new project without Bozier’s involvement:

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