Thank You & Goodbye
It is a rare and rewarding challenge to build a civil space on the internet. Some have tried, some have said they’ve tried, and most wouldn’t even bother, believing not only that the internet incubates miscommunication, virulence, and trolls but also that any attempt at productive dialogue is the hope of a bygone era. Two years ago, when we first launched Sidewire, we were determined to try. Cultivating and credentialing a community of nearly 1,000 experts in politics, technology, entertainment, and sports, we built a platform where only those with relationships to — and stakes in — the news could chat. In this way, experts could add their unique insight to the day’s stories, and readers could find nuance where so often nuance was missing.
Sidewire hosted such luminaries as Sen. John McCain, Hope Solo, Maggie Haberman, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Steve Clemons, and, yes, Ben and Jerry. It brought brilliant minds together to discuss and make sense of the most chaotic election to date. All in all, we sought to cut through the noise and build the place for the best conversations on the internet.
However, with the support of our board and the entire team, we have decided to close down the Sidewire product. In the end, we did not see enough usage to justify continuing to support the site.
Now more than ever, the future of civil discourse is uncertain. No evidence needs be shown that trolls and noise dominate media and political channels in our lives. The internet remains a loud, unsafe place. Although we will not be carrying on with Sidewire, we hope that it can set an example for further work and effort in making insightful online conversations a reality. We hope someone else will pick up where we left off. We hope you agree.
No post can express how grateful we are to our community of Newsmakers, investors, and advisors for your support. You took our calls, introduced us to friends and colleagues, and helped us turn an idea into a reality. Just as well, we are grateful to readers who tuned in to these analyses, sharing and learning from expert conversations as we did.
The challenge of thoughtful conversation is indeed a difficult one. But that is no reason not to try.