Louise Mensch launches rival to Twitter

Menshn.com will allow users to debate a subject rather than monitor a stream of often divergent tweets

Tory MP Louise Mensch has made her debut as an internet entrepreneur, with the launch of a new social network hoping to win over Twitter addicts “who find Twitter frustrating”.

Mensch launched the US-only social network, the almost eponymous Menshn.com, on Tuesday as a topic-based site allowing people to debate by subject rather than monitor a stream of often divergent tweets.

Mensch told the Guardian that the site was not named after her. “It’s a play on the word mention,” she said. “We like it and think it will work fine on a chat site”.

With 60,000 Twitter followers, Mensch’s decision to take on Twitter could be considered surprising given that she has used the social network to help raise her profile far beyond the normal backbench MP.

Mensch said the site would likely seek venture capital funding in the future because it has “fairly large commercial applications”.

Mensch added: “This is an idea that I’ve had since Christmas. I’ve been a passionate user of social media since the days of AOL chatrooms, and that was the inspiration really.”

The parliamentarian launched the site in collaboration with Luke Bozier, a former Labour political adviser.

Bozier told the Guardian: “We were both frustrated at the way Twitter doesn’t focus on topics. We both love Twitter, but if you want to focus on the election there’s no obvious place to do that online. Twitter is just too random. We wanted to encourage people to have conversations rather than broadcast their thoughts.”

However, British fans of the high-profile MP for Corby must wait until later this summer to defect to Menshn, which is presently focused only on this year’s US election.

Mensch and Bozier have incorporated a private company, MenschBozier Ltd, for the fledgling website in which they are the only shareholders and own an equal stake.

The Tory MP told TechCrunch that the site has attracted early interest from venture capitalists, although Bozier told the Guardian there are no plans to introduce advertising to the site or for it to be party political.

Initially, Menshn will only host three strands for discussion: the US election, the Barack Obama campaign, and the Mitt Romney campaign. Users of the forum can join chats and subscribe or block others on the site.

Popular posts will be displayed prominently on the site and new users automatically follow 100 people who Menshn defines as highly-rated.

News of the site caught Twitter users by surprise. Quickly the hashtag #MPstartups was among the most-popular topics in the UK, with suggestions ranging from the unlikely (“Enoch PowellPoint“) to the plausible (“comparethebudget.com“).

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