Bebo’s Creator Places Political Website in the Mainstream

“Jolitics is a Political Networking site designed to encourage open constructive political debate. Jolitics aims to avoid the intimidating, and dare we say slightly boring aspects of politics. Everyone can create and vote on political proposals and campaign their government to make changes.” [Monkey Inferno, 2010]

Most likely some of you are not familiar with Bebo. The social network platform was started by Michael Birch and his wife Xochi in January 2005. Bebo was one of the top websites in the U.K. with 10.6 million unique views. In 2008, the platform was sold to AOL for whopping $850 million. AOL sold it to an investment group in 2010 for $10 million. The platform is still active, ranking in the top 600 websites in the U.K. and in top 2,000 worldwide.

After selling Bebo to AOL, Michael and wife decided to form Monkey Inferno. The company produces Internet projects that might seem worthwhile to Michael and Xochi. They describe it as a Personal Incubator (PINC). According to TNW, Jolitics is one of those projects under Monkey Inferno that Michael hopes to breathe new life into politics online.

Monkey Inferno’s website reports the company is based in San Francisco with a handful of employees. “We’re a tight-knit group working out of a funky office in SF. We dream up internet projects then put our code where our mouth is and put them out into the wild. We’re not scared of failure; in fact we can be quite good at it. Our objective is to have fun, build something cool (and hopefully worthwhile), and, every now and then, something truly amazing.”

What exactly is Jolitics? The website members are called ‘joliticians’ and they can join debates on any current political issue. They can also nominate other users to represent them, if they consider them to be more knowledgeable on a particular subject.

“Jolitics is a Political Networking site designed to encourage open constructive political debate. Jolitics aims to avoid the intimidating, and dare we say slightly boring aspects of politics. Everyone can create and vote on political proposals and campaign their government to make changes.” [Monkey Inferno, 2010]

Joliticians initiate their own proposals and lobby for support from other joliticians. Voting on issues raised by members is a standard operating procedure. Once all the votes are in and a majority has been reached, Jolitics sends an email reporting the results to local politicians where the issue plays a key role in real life.

Although Monkey Inferno is based in the U.S., the political site was introduced to the U.K. March 2011 after an extended test period in Ireland. Only U.K. and Irish users have access to the site with roughly 2,000 members. The husband and wife team have a long term goal of making Jolitics available to other countries as well. I wonder when it will arrive in the U.S. where our voices need to be heard.

Interestingly, Michael told TNW that he conceived Jolitics “before even Bebo, probably around 2004. The idea has evolved over time, but actual work on the platform didn’t start until early 2010.”

As a final note, Michael and his wife also founded Birthday Alarm. Monkey Inferno calls the site ancient in internet terms. Since inception Birthday Alarm has registered over 90 million members and has remained profitable since 2003.