If you're the kind of person who wants to be in-the-know about what's on the forefront in tech, games and books head over to Product Hunt which today has launched a new feature called "Live." It allows anyone to participate in Q&As with high-profile and upcoming founders, investors, musicians, authors, game creators, entertainers and makers. It's a big change from a year ago when I last wrote about the Hacker News-like platform which at the time had received $1 million in seed funding, was attracting 250,000 unique visitors to its website a month and luring high-profile serial entrepreneurs, investors and reporters. It was an invite-only model in which regular people could lurk and see what big-shot community insiders were saying about the latest and greatest in tech, while not being able to actually engage in any kind of discussion.

As of now, anyone who registers an account on Product Hunt can submit questions to the more than 100 big names slated to host a live chat in the coming months, people such as Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Livingston, Ben Horowitz, Dave McClure, Gary Vaynerchuk, Aileen Lee and Tony Robbins. Live will also feature popular Product Hunt community members as well as independent makers such as Jesiah Bonney, a Midwestern car salesman with a talent for making 10-second music videos using an app called Mindie.

CEO Ryan Hoover says at first Product Hunt will feature one to three live chats a day and expand to two to five daily, assuming all goes well. "We're really trying to also add a mix of maybe someone in tech, and someone in books on the same day rather than having three tech people on the same day," he says. "So each day might have a variety of people in different industries." To make sure you don't miss an upcoming Live chat you can subscribe to an event and receive email notifications that will let you add it to your calendar and remind you right before the Q&A session begins.

Product Hunt's Evolution

Within the last year the company branched from helping people discover tech to also promoting games and books and in October landed $6.1 million in Series A funding. Product Hunt also is now garnering more than 3 million unique clicks per month to products featured on the site.

Hoover's says the rationale for launching Live stems from the conversations that have been happening when new products have been featured on the site and founders came in to answer questions and offer commentary about their back stories. "But the limitation was that it was almost always centered around an actual product launch, yet there were all these cool people that we have access to or want to participate outside of a specific event," he says. "They're not necessarily launching like a new product at that moment but people still want to ask them about whatever, whether it's a past product they launched, an upcoming product, anything personal even."

Attracting Celebrities

Hoover says celebrity entrepreneurs, entertainers and authors have been attracted to the site because it's a place where they can share their story, answer questions and get feedback from audiences. "There's also some who really see Product Hunt as a kind of bridge between technology and other categories," he says.

A Growing Forum

Like other sites such as Reddit, Hacker News and Tumblr the overwhelming majority of visitors to Product Hunt have been consumers and not contributors of content. With Live, however, every visitor now has the opportunity to comment or ask a question, which Hoover says he expects to drive increased engagement. "It will be very interesting, frankly, to see how it plays out," he says.

Published on: Aug 18, 2015