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Public is a new app that lets you watch celebrities chat

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Oh to be a fly on the wall

Avner Ronen's last startup was Boxee, a web TV platform that reimagined the way we would consume our home entertainment. He eventually sold that company to Samsung, and today he launched his newest venture, Public. The service describes itself as "a place for you to discover and follow conversation from the most fascinating people in entertainment, politics, sports, and tech." It's a way to create and share chats between two or more people, something Ronen compared to enjoying the banter of two great sports commentators while also watching the game.

There have been a few attempts in recent years to build similar startups. Talkshow, created by former Twitter executive Michael Sippey, let users create a "show" where they could chat in public with their friends. Like Twitter, but without the harassment from random trolls! The service peaked in the top 50 among social networking apps and had tumbled far down the charts since, according to data from App Annie.

Branch, once called Roundtable, which also spawned Potluck, was another attempt to build a sort of group blogging platform where users could easily create a crew and then share the content they made together to the public, while also restricting who could participate. It failed to gain much traction as a standalone service and was eventually acquired by Facebook.

This is a nut many startups have tried to crack

One could argue that Kinja, the blogging and commenting platform created by Gawker Media, was also an attempt to give people a simple way to chat and comment in public while retaining some control over who was involved, or at least, which conversations rose to the surface. And of course Verge live blogs are often conversations back and forth between our writers as they digest a live event.

Public is launching with chats dedicated to tech, pop culture, LGBTQ people, and black art and literature. You can download it from the app store here or check it out on the web here.