SquareOffs hopes its new consumer-facing destination website — showcasing interactive “microdebates” aggregated across a growing network of publishers and influencers — moves digital conversations back to civility.
A fresh round of funding will help, said Jeff Rohr.
“We are all tired of the toxicity that fills our social media feeds and dominates comments at the bottom of news articles,” said Rohr, founder and CEO of SquareOffs. “Opinions matter more than ever and it’s time they are shared online in a healthy manner.”
Click here to check out the new SquareOffs site.
The launch comes on the heels of a round of funding that included Howard Tullman’s G2T3V, Greenway Capital LP, Leawood Venture Capital, and the KCRise Fund. Total investment in SquareOffs now tops the $2 million mark as the company steams toward larger funding rounds and a mobile app in the works.
Founded in 2012, SquareOffs — a veteran of the Kansas City Startup Village and one of its last remaining startup occupants — is a previous LaunchKC winner and Missouri Technology Corporation grantee. Rohr, a member of the Pipeline Entrepreneurs network, leads the company alongside Rachel Smith, CTO and co-founder.
Click here to read more about why SquareOffs was named one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2019.
“Moves by the large social media platforms that dominate digital conversations are driven less by the merit of those interactions and more by montitization goals and data collection,” SquareOffs said in an announcement of its funding efforts. “As a consequence, toxic and insular content is rewarded more by social media algorithms than constructive, healthy discourse.”
In pilot tests, SquareOffs was used to pare opinions on a wide range of content topics, from sports and politics to product reviews and lifestyle. Partnering publishers included such names as News Press and Gazette Co., TastyTrade, Sports Publishers Group, Dear Abby, and KC-based Andrews McMeel.
Online publishers can embed microdebates within their site’s content as a powerful alternative to legacy polling and discussion solutions, according to SquareOffs. In pilot tests, SquareOffs articles generated 40 percent more comments than articles supported by traditional commenting systems, the company said. SquareOff debates also feature AI comment moderation to ensure comments remain on point and civil.
“Constant changes to social media algorithms rarely benefit content creators looking to engage and grow audiences,” said DominusIV, a gaming influencer with 193,000 YouTube subscribers. “I’m excited to engage followers in ways I cannot on YouTube. I see SquareOffs as an opportunity to reach a whole new audience of sports fans.”