Airtime: Chat Roulette with a Background Check

Videochatting with strangers just got a whole lot easier. Airtime, which launched earlier today at Milk Studios in New York after much secrecy, is the brainchild of Napster cofounders Sean Parker (former president of Facebook, aka Justin Timberlake in the Social Network) and Shawn Fanning (later a cofounder of Path).

Potential users were hitting lots of turbulence earlier today, but by the late afternoon, it was no problem to get onto Airtime to chat with strangers. The user interface is awesome — it integrates with Facebook and shows you which of your friends are online, but you can also choose to chat with random other users. The filters for randoms—proximity, common interests and friends in common—didn’t seem to always work when I was using it. Airtime also integrates with YouTube so you can watch videos with a friend.

airtime videochat

Who’s on Airtime so far? Well, I got interviewed by a woman writing for Jezebel, so my gut instinct tells me it’s mainly journalists and people working at internet companies. And the Facebook integration is ensuring (at least for the time being) that there fewer visible penises than Chat Roulette. And there’s apparently a chance you might run into Mark Zuckerberg. (Suck on that, Chat Roulette.)

The launch was so star-powered, it makes me wonder how Airtime is going to make money. Gamification seems to be built into the service, but with no explanation of what it’s for:

airtime video chat gamification

I have 1,350 mystery points — huzzah!

Have you tried out Airtime yet? What do you think so far?

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