The much hyped, yet highly secretive Airtime, founded by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, has finally revealed itself to be a browser-based video chatting application to help you create shared experiences with people you know and people you’ve never met before. The app lets you connect with existing Facebook friends, but most importantly, it connects you anonymously with strangers, finding them in relation to your location and interests.
Essentially, it’s like Chat Roulette, but not nearly as creepy, and with little to zero nudity.
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From Jimmy Fallon, who opened the event presentation (Joel Mchale, Ed Helms, Jim Carrey and Snoop Dogg also took part):
“Airtime is going to change the whole way we connect on the Internet.” It allows you to “make new friends based on interests. It will blow your pants off.”
Since then, the company announced a new round of funding of $25M and the acquisition of Erly, which described itself as “a new social platform for organizing and sharing your personal content.” Most recently, MTV founder Bob Pittman joined the Board of Directors for the company — hyping up curiosity and suspense over Airtime. According to our sources, investors include the likes of Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian.
Upon login, after connecting with Facebook and approving the use of your webcam, you’re presented with the chatting page. You could search through your own Facebook friends, but the giant “Talk to Someone” button is much more enticing.
That button connects you with someone else on the site, showing you your shared interests and traits in the middle of the screen. From there, you can click the star button to randomly connect with someone else (if the conversation proves sour).
From the release:
What is Airtime? The best and fastest way to video chat with your friends on any platform. No download required, just login with Facebook and begin video chatting with your friends immediately, right in your browser.
Discover people like you. Break outside your social graph and find people like you based on shared interests.
What do I need?
Chrome, Firefox 3+, IE 8+
1.5Ghz or faster
512MB of RAM
Broadband internet connection
(1.5+ Mbps connection)
According to Parker, Airtime allows you to break outside your social graph, and make connections beyond the physical world. Parker says “Facebook isn’t helping you build new connections.”
As far as your real identity goes, connecting with strangers brings inherent risks and that’s why connecting through Facebook is so important. Parker emphasized safety in his presentation, saying that Airtime has the ability to detect “bad actors” and hold them responsible.
Parker talked a lot about the rise of the “real-time Web” in his presentation, which featured numerous technical issues that were balmed by comedic relief — that there are not enough services out there that provide truly synchronous interaction.
As world has becomes a much smaller, and more connected place, Parker believes that we need the ability to enable conversations and connections, and that seems to be Airtime’s goal, tapping the interest graph that Facebook has created.