What to make of chatroulette?

Last night The Gotham Gal and I had dinner with our friends John Heilemann and Diana Rhoten. As dinner was ending, the talk turned to chatroulette and what to make of it. John and I both had the exact same reaction the first time we used chatroulette; 

"how did it take 15 years for the Internet to deliver this experience?"

For those that don't know and didn't click thru, chatroulette is a service that lets you video chat live with random strangers. It is not safe for work in many cases. And it is full of weirdness and weirdos.

But as Sam Anderson writes in the most recent NY Magazine:

ChatRoulette is, in this sense, a blast from the Internet past. It’s the anti-Facebook, pure social-media shuffle.

On a day when all the tech blogs are discussing what Google's latest attempt at social means for Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed, I find myself wondering what to make of chatroulette.

My daughter in college tells me it is way more popular than Facebook on her campus right now. My daughter in high school tells me all the boys in her school are into chatroulette. And my eighth grader son tells me some of his friends are "obsessed with it". He also told me "dad, you can't invest in that, it's porn."

Just to be clear, I am not talking to anyone about investing in chatroulette, at least yet. I can't even figure out who is behind the service. There are no leads anywhere. But my son's assertion that chatroulette is porn doesn't seem exactly right to me.

There certainly is a disturbing amount of perversion and sexual innuendo on chatroulette, but there is so much else. In many ways, it's like a walk through Times Square thirty years ago. Sam Anderson describes this experience:

We ended up staying on, talking and dancing, connecting and disconnecting, for four hours. We chatted with Pratt students in Bed-Stuy, with a man inexplicably sitting on his toilet, with a kid waving a gun and a knife, and with a guy who went to my wife’s old high school in California. We saw Chinese kids in computer cafés and English kids drinking beer. We danced with a guy in his bedroom to the entirety of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” We talked for half an hour with a 28-year-old tech writer from San Francisco.

That's a pretty compelling experience to be honest. The Internet is this huge network with over a billion people worldwide on it. Chatroulette feels like a pretty cool way to take a quick trip around that network, meeting people and talking to them.

So that's the question. Is this the adult friend finder 2.0 or Facebook 2.0? Or something else entirely. That's what I woke up thinking about this morning so I'm sharing that question with all of you. Let me know what you think.


Comments (Archived):

  1. scottythebody

    I don’t know what it *will* be, but right now, before the spammers and business people get to it, it’s the most pure connective experience the world has ever witnessed. I can’t imagine what kids are doing with this, but if I had had this when I was 16 I would have been on it all night every night meeting people from around the globe.

    1. fredwilson

      “it’s the most pure connective experience the world has ever witnessed”yup, that’s why i woke up thinking about it

      1. Kevin

        I just checked it out again. Man, it’s weird. But I stand by my original post and I agree with you. It’s connective, if only for a second before I hit forward because I’m afraid of what the guy on the other side might do. I find myself wishing it were less creepy but thinking that, if it were so, it could be amazing.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Is this – and so many other ‘Social Media Wannabe’s’ – predicated on people having so much disposable (literally!) time they spend a disproportionate amount of their precious (lest we forget, time/life is precious – carpe diem and all that!) time surfing from one such ‘virtual venue’ to another?OK, unemployment – combined with the cheap amusement/distraction that is the ‘net, and an increasing number of people ‘working’ from a computer means the potential audience is out there (and rapidly growing, with the ever-accelerating reach of the ‘net to new regions/demographics). But, still. I don’t know … I find it all incredibly depressing at times.The ‘net is in danger of simply becoming an opiate for the masses – the new Gin Lane.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…I’ll stick to Beer Street … 😉

        1. Aviah Laor

          better than religion, though

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Secular Surfing is best, oh yes.

        2. fredwilson

          that is certainly what facebook is

    2. kirklove

      What do you mean every night? If I were 16 I’d probably never leave my room. I’m surprised I see kids outside at all any more. We had capture the flag. They have the world. Lucky bastards.

      1. falicon

        Your reference to capture the flag actually sparked quite a few game ideas that could be done with chatroulette … one that might be really interesting is to combine the idea of chatroulette with that of speed dating/ignite (randomly connect you with a person that’s on, start a 5 min. clock…bounce you to someone new when those 5 minutes are up)I’m also wondering what ‘crowdsourcing’ could be done with this idea (seems like something along the lines of the ESP game)…If nothing else, chatroulette def. sparks the brain into non-stop action! 😀

        1. matt newberg

          I think WooMe does this with regards to your speed dating idea. In any case, this is definitely a trip back to the simpler 1.0 days of the internet. It reminds me of early chatrooms, where people instantly type in a/s/l except this time we are privileged enough to really figure out age and sex. Maybe the next component is mapping location via IP, and then matching people based on interest. You could port over your information via Connect and run a sequence to meet people the furthest away from you based on your interests.

    3. Wesley Barrow

      As a fresh 27 year old, it reminds me of the novelty I felt when I first discovered the AOL and IRC chatrooms in the mid 90’s. Glad to see the next generation of teenagers feel the same excitement about a new application.

      1. Rich Heller

        I keep connecting to dudes… waht’s up with that?!!?!?

        1. mansman

          IT THINKS UR GAY!!!!

    4. Doug Kersten

      Facebook lets you connect with people you already know. Twitter with people you don’t know at all, have known in the past or met offline. This looks like it lets you meet, get to know, and connect with new people online. It is a fundamental difference.

  2. reece

    In the 2 minutes I just spent on chatroulette, I saw 4 guys masturbating. Not my cup of tea.If they really can keep up with their own terms of service:”1. Chatroulette does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material and and we will have to block users who violate these rules from using our service.2. Please use “Report inappropriate video” link to notify us about inappropriate content and we will take necessary steps.”…then they may show potential, but until then it’s a dangerous property.Though the porn industry does make a lot of money…

    1. Chris Pollara

      I hear you Reese, I noticed some interesting activity aka some guys stroking the salami. It’s almost a cross between Waynes world and Clock work Orange. No doubt, it was a weird experience though. As disturbed as I new I should be there was a component that struck a cord. I wonder if you are on during different times of the day you get different content.One thing stuck out in Fred’s post and thats this being viral with the younger generation. Scary to think people can have this type of instant access with 8th graders.

      1. reece

        “I wonder if you are on during different times of the day you get different content.”On the internet, it’s always 2am somewhere.

    2. fredwilson

      that’s the part of it that creeps me out. also creeped out sam. he vowed never to go back. then he did

      1. andreaitis

        maybe hashtags and some high-level categorizatioan would help with the creep factor. imagine hitting up chatroulette early this morning when the earthquake hit illinois or checking in with the snow-swamped in the northeast. it makes me think of a video twitter. and i’d call it raw rather than pure.

        1. reece

          I was just about to write about this idea per Charlessmith’s idea about the Super Bowl Parade. if users could tag their stream, it would match people accordingly. when news hits, it makes anyone a citizen journalist, at least on a one on one level.now it’s starting to sound like a Twitter/Ustream mashup.

  3. jerrycolonna

    Weird experience but definitely intriguing. Kinda reminds me of speeddating—not that I’ve ever done that. I love the random factor and I love the break down of predetermined paths of interaction. But I can’t imagine doing this for long periods of time–it’s too scary.

    1. Aneel

      “I love the random factor and I love the break down of predetermined paths of interaction.” <- ++Even if chatroulette doesn’t go anywhere, I think this idea has win all over it. How many valuable interactions are never had due to some convention-enforcing social barrier? As nice as social networking tools are, they don’t actually create exceptions to these barriers–they just increase reach. This ignores the barriers.

      1. fredwilson

        right, how do you harness that without the creep factor? or do they have to go hand in hand?

        1. Aneel

          I don’t think you do away the creep factor, unless you wanna hire moderators.But.. you can also do some kind of self-tagging, public tagging, & the ability to +1/-1 on a tag. Then filter by tag or tag combinations like you do for delicious.And, this could also be used as a platform (the way disqus is) to host such a cabality for existing groups (e.g. linkedin groups, fb groups, etc).

        2. falicon

          well I would TOTALLY kill a day+ using it if I could use Disqus as my filter…ie. let me randomly chat with anyone who’s commented on any blog that I’ve also commented on (and is also online)…could be a bit too limiting to make good matches, but maybe there’s also a scheduling component to it (ie. you are matched with person X for a chat at 3, if you’re interested go to http xyz at 3)…

    2. Jason L. Baptiste

      jerry+fred- check out WooMe. They’ve been around for a couple of years. Same concept, just in the concept of dating/speeddating. ie- randomly connected to opposite sex via webcam for 60 seconds at a time. Index+Atomico+Mangrove backed them.

      1. fredwilson

        so this is not a new idea?

        1. Jason L. Baptiste

          It’s “new” in the sense that it’s for general purpose use as opposed to dating.

    3. fredwilson

      thanks jerry. i knew you’d have a good take on it.

  4. ErikSchwartz

    It’s channel surfing a TV spectrum entirely populated by Wayne’s World.

    1. raycote

      Amusing and effective summary!

  5. Jason

    whoa. a click-thru soon from a flash enabled, the ultimate candy from a mobile with a front facing camera, and i think you just increased the amount of people i each day from ~0 to N.

    1. fredwilson

      mobile chatroulette. that takes me back to my flash/html5 post.

      1. Jason

        that, and kiss the sky for a sprinkle of lte magic, oh man so close…and just might make it mainstream as a feature of a larger service tied toour identities, where it can still be fun as we’ll just play nice.let chatroulette lead the way, there’s a tendancy to innovate through pornfirst 😉

      2. Jason

        if Andrey’s integrity is there, his vision’s a winner.

  6. Alexander Ainslie (@AAinslie)

    They sure picked the right name for the service in the French market. “Chat” sounds like the French slang for vagina! Literally translates into “PussyRoulette”Also great illustration of a “just good enough” service/product. No over-engineering or schmaltz. Taps into a lot of what makes humans tick on a granular level.A 1000 copy cats will bloom, probably starting with the Swamer bros. in Germany! 😉

    1. fredwilson

      the kings of internet knockoffs.

  7. andyswan

    It’s porn. It may not be purely sexual porn (though I’m sure there is enough of that), but it is life porn. Like a stroll through a bus depot or DMV, but where you stop to “chat” with people instead of walking swiftly through with your hand securely on your wallet. And definitely nowhere you want your kids to be spending much time.A novelty for most, sad commentary for many, initially interesting for all.I’d let this be what it is on its own….but use it to inspire new thinking on what social can and should be in your own niche.

    1. RichardF

      yep Andy I agree.The serendipitous nature it utilises could be great as a feature on social networking sites.

    2. reece

      Great call, Andy.I could see this as a feature on Facebook – chat roulette with people I am connected to directly or even indirectly…

      1. fendien

        I don’t know if it has the same vibe if you do it with people you’re connected to directly, because otherwise you could just Skype them or whatever. the whole point here is that its with perfect strangers, and it affords some people to just play out different aspects of their personality that they normally don’t or can’t. I think the whole point of this is that it’s akin to what I call “Third Life”.I’ll call First Life our real lives, Second Life the game where you have an avatar that’s a virtual representation of who you want to be (note in Second Life there’s no real winning, but its a bunch of people doing things and meeting people), and Chat Roulette I think falls into a Third Life category, because it blurs the lines between reality and a metaverse. In this case, your avatar is your true self, yet at the same time its not. Your looks may be you, but people act different from their normal personality. Given that everything is online, random, and somewhat anonymous, people play out different fantasies or act how they maybe can’t in their real lives. I haven’t used the service yet, but in the NYMag article the writer explains:”The paradox of face-to-face conversation across vast distances seems to do strange things to the human brain. I often found myself acting unlike myself: dancing without provocation with a roomful of Korean girls, greeting people with flurries of over-the-top marijuana slang even though I’ve never even smoked a joint.”I think this is the true draw of the service, and what will keep people entertained and enticed.

        1. fredwilson

          first life, i love that!

          1. David Rogers

            Yep. Did you ever see the parody website “First Life”? See: http://tcrn.ch/9a6Sqv

        2. reece

          Great point, but at least I won’t be surprised by some exhibitionists (intheory anyway)…Further, my social network is now pretty big and I’m linked to people who Ibarely talk to. Randomly popping across their screen might be a good way toreconnect.Also, I mentioned being matched to friends of friends – this could beanonymized, and then you have a totally different network. A group ofpeople who are connected somehow (so it feels safe), but don’t know exactlyhow (so there’s still that random interaction). This, I think, mightactually work (at least as a feature of a larger network).

          1. falicon

            On the surface, I love the idea of all this…of course the actual use so far, like many have said, doesn’t really work for me yet…I feel like a lot of my own little hacks and projects have been trying to get at just this sort of thing in one fashion or another for awhile now (specifically http://friendstat.us and http://buddyoftheday.com)…so I especially like your take on tying it loosely to your own social graph…I think that could be A LOT more interesting and useful.BTW – I ‘liked’ your comment once before I realized I wasn’t logged into Disqus and then a second time once I was…so you get double points for this today! 🙂

          2. reece

            ha. thanks man.

          3. raycote

            I guess, I am to much of a control freak. The random thing strikes me as a bit boring. Too much work to hit on a channel where they are not boring me or I am not boring them. Friends of friends, that could be tedious or touchy or both.Being matched up with a random Facebook member willing to participate in the process, then working some sort of interplay to map out the minimum degrees of separation between your selves, might be fun for both the players and the interconnecting friends. Maybe the Facebook population size is too small??Targeted random matching around a specific topical activity might be fun. Like a random one to one instant book club buddy around a specific book you are both about to read. Maybe executed in a repayable video based Google Wave format. That way you could carry on and let the relationship build over time, some exchanges in real time, others more thoughtful interactions at your leisure over time. The random match ups could be expanded to more than a two way exchange. That might be a good value added feature for Amazon. Sort of the next step beyond the static user reviews.Targeted matching around a specific life experiences. Random match ups for people who are going through *****you name it****** life experiences or challenges. Maybe that would embody too much pathos?Amongst the fiendsControlled by the screensWhat does it all meanMore than your eye can seeAnd ears can hearYear by yearAll the sense disappearsNonsense perseveresPrayers laced wit fearBewareIt might feel goodIt might sound a lil somethinbut Damn the gameIf it don’t mean nuttinWhat is game who got gameWhere’s the gameIn lifeBehind the gameBehind the gameI got gameShe got gameWe got gameThey got gameHe got gameDoes it matter?Thought of reperations Got em playin wit the populationNothing to loseEverythings approvedPeople usedEven murders excusedGod takes care of ol folks and foolsWhile the devil takes careOf makin all the rulesFolks don’t even own themselvesPayin mental rentTo corporate presidents1 outta 1 million residentsBeing dissidentWho ain’t kissin itHey yo…I don’t think they heard ya Stevesing it again kick it to them againOne more timeThere’s something happenin hereWhat it is aint exactly clearThere’s a man with a gun over thereYeah that’s right HA HATelling me that I got to bewareIts time we stopped childrenWhat’s that sound everybody lookWhat’s going downCan anyone name that band? – Google Lyric searches don’t count!

      2. Richard Burton

        Or an app?

      3. mrcai

        I like it. Though it could work outside of Facebook with your larger social graph.You’d enter your social network’s (Facebook, Twitter, Disqus…) credentials and then be connected to someone, somewhere, that touches your graph.I guess a fun game element could be for the two parties to decide which network they’re both in within a time limit. Points awarded. Clearly you could cheat very simply, but I think there’s something in it.

      4. awaldstein

        ReeceYou can send video messages to your friends or use a video web ex type of app with your friends lists today.Not random. Tied to your friend structures.

        1. reece

          I’m fully aware of how to use web video…The exciting part is the “roulette” and if I were playing roulette with friends of friends (a.k.a. people I don’t know), then that’s where the entertainment lies.I don’t want to stumble upon some guy beating off on ChatRoulette, but I may enjoy randomly meeting some friends of friends randomly/anonymously via a ‘chat roulette’ feature on my social net.

          1. awaldstein

            Understand.Wasn’t implying of course that you were not in the know;)Just that on Facebook at least ( a platform I know pretty well) there are apps that are free, easy and work within the friending structure of the platform.

          2. reece


          3. jadito

            The problem is , there need to be enough people connected to be able to play

          4. reece

            via facebook, i’m directly connected to way more people than i need to talk to, and one degree of separation away from a TON of people. friends of friends is a large enough category i think.

    3. fredwilson

      i can’t, won’t, and don’t dictate to my kids what they do and where they hang out online. however, all of them have told me they find it a bit creepy. but does it have to be creepy? could it evolve into something more mainstream

      1. andyswan

        Your kids are old enough and more importantly responsible enough to handle that freedom….The idea is great as is the execution.  All for it.  Just think it’ll be elements taken to niches that make it work on a business level.Sent from my Millennium Falcon

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Maybe a financial niche it could fill would be as a Bad Trade Schadenfreude Cam?

          1. Tereza

            ROTFLSchadenfreude, for better or for worse, is another strong human impulse you can count on….lots of opps to monetize.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            It’s so true. There was a fellow I mentioned on my old blog who was hitting things out of the park in 2007, so it was interesting to read his investing blog. Then one of his biggest picks went bankrupt, and everything went against his picks in 2008, and suddenly I was more interested in looking at his blog. But that’s when he stopped blogging about his investing (all of a sudden he decided he wasn’t deriving any value from the excercise).Probably a lot of bloggers stopped blogging about their investments in 2008 — just when it would have been most interesting to read them, from a schadenfreude perspective.

          3. fredwilson

            such a great observation. blogging is like trading. you gotta stay with it.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            True. And sometimes you get the satisfaction of sticking with something and seeing it (and blogging about it) come back big time. I’ve been lucky enough to have that happen on a couple of occasions.

          5. Tereza

            Maybe e-Schadenfreude is …. social shorting?

          6. Dave Pinsen

            I like it.

      2. Richard Burton

        That is the best way to be. I love my Father for letting me fall from a 40 ft. tree, kitesurf around Cape Town on my own at 14, and leave University to work on my small business. My Dad has always let me be me.

      3. falicon

        It could easily turn into the old ‘site of the day’ or ‘show me something cool’ or ‘I feel lukcy’ buttons the search engines used to tout…but for people instead of web pages.It also seems like a nice little sales person tool…if there was a way to limit the pool of people it would randomly choose from, you could put a tickler file in, and let it pick who you call/connect with each day…Lots of interesting directions it could go I guess…

        1. Joe Siewert

          I was thinking that too. Adding some kind of selector to pick the group of people you might connect with. That assumes people would be honest with their intentions though.

      4. George Howard

        Right, that’s my thought too. If you believe, as I do (and as the Cluetrain wisely put forth years ago), that the internet is simply a logical progression of people’s most deep desire to communicate with one another (it’s why we learn to speak as children, why we develop empathy as adults, etc.) this – chatroulette – is sort of the apotheosis of this impulse.The implication – imho – is that w/ a bit of thought, this technology becomes applicable to more mainstream applications. it obviates the unnecessary complexities/friction/transaction costs (as an aside: Fred, when will you do a Monday MBA post on “opportunity cost?”) of sign ons, log ins, etc. associated with the traditional “social network” model and gets right to why social networks exist – connection.Imagine that when one goes to a favorite site they can log on to a site specific version of chatroulette, and quickly connect w/ others who are also on this site, and who thus share some commonality of interest (yes, there will be issues w/ trolls, etc). For these sites it means more traffic, less bounce rate, longer time on site, trusted sources referring others to elements of the site, etc., all without the trappings of traditional social networks.Yes, there will be issues, and, yes, the “internet” will race to the bottom to a certain degree, but this is a logical extension of what the internet’s most profound purpose is (connection), and it IS where the internet is headed – unquestionably.

        1. Mark Essel

          Great insight George, your comment will certainly influence my own after I catch up on the rest 😀

        2. Rob K

          I really like this idea of community driven, rather than totally random. This community for example. I’m not FB friends with any of them, but would generally welcome more communication.

      5. ShanaC

        yes- We have very little trust in the stranger in the west.

      6. Rob K

        You let your 8th grade son go wherever he wants online and talk with whomever he wants?

        1. fredwilson

          yes, we’ve talked to him about what he’s likely to find and what it means and what to do when it happens. i don’t believe in filtering the world from our kids.

          1. Doug Kersten

            Hear! Hear! No net nanny for my son either. Once you let someone else decide what to filter you have ceded control to them. If you don’t let someone be responsible for their own actions they will never learn how to. I would rather he learns about the world with me in the picture.

          2. Tereza

            Yes. You have to work them up to applying judgment in making big, difficult choices by working their way up to them through smaller choices in a reasonably safe environment.A good book on Helicopter Parenting — Madeline Levine’s “The Price of Privilege”. There is increasing documentation that when helicopter parents are out of sight (e.g. college) their children can be paralyzed bc they can’t make their own decisions and haven’t developed coping frameworks consistent with their age.The forbidden fruit is a lot more tempting than what’s freely available.

      7. Larry Jones

        The first thing I was saw some dude’s balls. Wow, revolutionary. You are a terrible parent.

        1. kidmercury

          oh schnap….larry jones just crossed the line there folks….a family diss….a PARENTING diss….i mean i am all for brutal disses but let’s keep it above the belt folks…..i mean this is one step from a “your mom” diss…..brutal….we def need red flags out here in fredland

          1. fredwilson

            he’s entitled to his opinion. we’ll see if he is right when they are adults.

          2. raycote

            Your parenting style has my vote!You’ve framed the scope and behavioral response constraints.The right to grow and learn with an open channel to dad as a backstop.My son is 21 now and I thing that approach work out well.But then again, I love my kid, so naturally I think that!

          3. Ovi_Jacob

            My wife and I come from sets of parents on the opposite extremes of this debate. WIfe’s parents (by the way, respected community leaders in reigion and education) are totally hands-off. My parents were very much rules-oriented. Both of us have great relationships with our parents, I think we both turnd out ok.Interesting note – in raising our 2 kids, I find myself very laid-back and my wife is clearly the structure/rules bearer. People for the most part are attracted to the untried and unknown (the very reason chatroulette is so enticing).Grat thread

      8. Sergey Nazarov

        I am also amazed that it took the internet this long to get to this point.The initial interest seems to denote a better mechanism for social interactions.What if there were high quality chat roulette networks; Eg: does anyone remember that weird video dating concept using VHS. Once the participants get cleaned up I think we could really see some video chat based social networks; what if it was chat roulette but I only linked to people who fit into a certain demographic or geographic location.

    4. Mark Essel

      Serendipity in the extreme!

  8. kidmercury

    what to make of chatroulette depends on what type of community it is trying to create, and what type of user it is trying to attract. it seems chatroulette is trying to take the “catch all” strategy of accomodating an infinite number of users, and thus investing heavily in engineering resources, and participating in an economic universe characterized by high costs to reach scalability and then profits after scalability.major mistakes.the chatroulette technology, like twitter’s micromessaging, is a winning idea. i think both chatroulette and micromessaging will manifest themselves in far more distributed manners, i.e. as a part of an open source content management system or something like that. this will allow for better integration into niche communities. such technology is a cost center; profit center is the monetary policy of niche communities.

  9. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I’m 23 and I think I’m already old. My first instinct about chatroulette is that it is a stupid, pointless waste of time. I had the same feeling about dailybooth but clearly there’s something going on there.I honestly don’t know what to make of it. If anything, I wouldn’t compare it to adultfriendfinder or Facebook. I would compare it to 4chan — a total free for all with intermittent bouts of brilliance.In any case, I think the comments here will be interesting.

    1. fredwilson

      right, 4chan. that’s a good mental model.if you don’t try to wrap your head around stuff like this, you can’t stay on top of where the internet is going

      1. willcole

        Also worth noting that it’s a bit of a running joke right now on 4chan to upload lots of the disturbing video your seeing now. So while the site may always be creepy, it’s been especially so the last few days.

      2. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I absolutely agree — but that’s why I say I must be getting old.For most of my life I was the guy explaining to the olds why X or Y or Z is actually awesome, and now I’m that guy.That went from 10 years ago making websites in high school and explaining to small businesses why they should have a website to a few months ago speaking to a prominent Paris business angel and asking him if he would’ve invested in Twitter, and him going off into an angry rant about how Twitter, and Dailymotion, and YouTube, and Facebook, had “no business” and “no business model”. That day, I decided that would be my litmus test for deciding whether to consider a potential investor.I fear becoming that guy, but every once in a while I react like that guy. It’s scary.

  10. James Krull

    its another way of wasting time…..

  11. Peter Fleckenstein

    Fred, I haven’t participated in or used Chatroulette and with that being said the first thing that popped into my mind was – It’s digital, interactive, voyeurism.Will I get on chatroulette, ever? I don’t think so as there is no purpose to it. I can think of WAY better things to do with 4 hours of my time.

  12. Karthick Kalidoss

    I totally enjoyed it. There are so many weirdos but you can skip them in 0.5 second. I had quite a few interesting conversations with people across the globe – japan, us, spain, brazil, germany.If you want to kill time in an interesting way, this is the place. it is facebook for strangers.

    1. fredwilson

      facebook for strangers. good way to put it

      1. awaldstein

        Andre Breton and the Surrealists would have probably called this “Haphazard Socialization”.

        1. mackaymiller

          It’s kind of a HAM Radio experience…on speed…

          1. awaldstein

            YesThis discussion takes me in a side direction. I’m a believer that video is the next data type for usage in social networks. It’s more vital, natural, and provides authentification. If easy to use and inexpensive will provide real utility for all the web cams on Mac’s that just sit there.I’m uncharacteristically ‘lurking’ on this conversation thinking about how video is uncomfortable and ‘porn’ in a haphazard world, but engaging, enriching and useful to friends in a transparent community setting, like AVC or Facebook or any of our private niche communities.

  13. Tom Royce

    I like the Times Square analogy of the 70’s and 80’s. It does remind me of the very early days of internet chat rooms, the pure randomness of the experience.But, I think I have outgrown the old Times Square (Times Square outgrew itself) and the chat rooms of days gone by are past.I could see how voyeuristic bored college students would love it. They could see the bizarre from the safety of a dorm room.

  14. markslater

    fred – there were a bunch of guys in LA doing this about 3 years ago – they were second time entrepreneurs and i cant for the life of me remember their names..anyone help?

  15. markslater

    why cant chatroulette be the AVC chatroulette! i’ll next straight over Andy swan thats for sure 😉

    1. kidmercury

      yes, that relates to my beef with chatroulette. ultimately this technology is better suited towards niche communities (i.e. fredland).

      1. David Gillespie

        And just like that, a useful purpose for an inane idea was born!

      2. fredwilson

        yeah, i’d happily to a random chat with anyone who is a “frequent commenter”

        1. markslater

          you could open it for 2 hours a day – kinda like a happy hour – someone might want to tell seesimic that they may yet have a business model

      3. ErikSchwartz

        For something like this to work you need a critical mass of users and I think for most niche communities you’re not going to get there. There are what, a few hundred regulars here? Maybe if niche chat was only open certain hours of the day?

        1. kidmercury

          i think it serves a purpose in a place with a few hundred regulars. but, i doubt it serves a highly central purpose, and is more like a side feature. that is why i think this type of stuff is a cost center best left to open source development communities. but, i think the same thing of twitter.

    2. andyswan

      I don’t bite………hard.

  16. LIAD

    there is something very Primal about the sensation you get when effectively being dumped in someone else’s personal space and being forced into a “fight or flight” situationIt’s like an endless array of miniscule blind dates where the excitement hinges upon not knowing whats behind each “loading” screen.The completely unpoliceable nature and unpredictability of the site, in all its no-holds-barred glory is part of its essence – thus making it unlikely to attract and retain mainstream audiences/brand advertisers. – i’d like to know how much of the appeal is effectively channel hoping looking for freaks as opposed to getting into conversations with the people serendipity puts in your path

  17. David Manaster

    It reminds me of the old-school AOL chat rooms. Lots of weird, fun, interesting people out there, but with just enough of a sexual undertone to give it a bad reputation. With video.

    1. fredwilson

      the ads on barstoolsports are more pornagraphic than chatroulette!

      1. leeschneider

        That may be true, but the content is generally pretty funny, and they justlaunched a NY based site that is actually funnier and better written thanthe Boston site.

    2. Yule Heibel

      I agree with those who write that chatroulette has huge potential and will probably just keep going. Haven’t used it myself and am just thinking out loud here, but what I found interesting in the barstoolsports links, above, is that the reporter constantly writes, “don’t next me! don’t next me!” He really has to work at keeping his “partners” interested, even if it’s only so they’ll insult him.IOW, it strikes me that it’s not just the chance aspect, the strangers, the weirdness of the content that’s salient. It’s the rapidity, the ever-increasing diminution of contact, the idea of getting “nexted” before you can even say anything, that speaks to what’s human here.Don’t taze me, bro. Don’t hit the delete button. Don’t next me! ;-)Is the technology bringing us closer, or is it also making it easier to next the next guy?

      1. fredwilson

        don’t taze me!LOL

  18. reece

    Fred – still interested on your thoughts about Buzz, and I’m sure the AVC party has plenty to say, too. Gathering up your thoughts for another day?

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t blog about Buzz until i can use it. it’s not in my gmail yet.

      1. reece

        Google didn’t hook you up early?it is available on mobile though.

      2. karen_e

        It’s in mine. “Google is gobbling” is what I ‘tweeted’ as my first Buzz.

  19. Tim Ogilvie

    This is a very cool perspective – thanks for posting. My impression of chatroulette was that it was all deviants, but it may be a tapestry of the Internet at-large.They may be the same thing, which is even more interesting!

  20. Jason L. Baptiste

    I like the essence of it. Connecting us to new random people *instantly*. The greatest benefit I’ve gotten out of blogging+social networking is meeting new people. The meeting part is what comes hardest. It takes someone reaching out to engage in conversation after I make a lengthy post in order for that to happen. I wish I could enter in my “interests” and start talking with one new person per day that shared those interests. That’s pretty powerful to me.ps- “friending” != meeting. I have a lot of random “friends” on facebook for business that I’m sure are interesting, but I’ve never “met” them.

  21. Scott Smeester

    What would be useful is to categorize by topics so that you tend to meet people with more similar interests. For me, I would frequent the “40 Year Old Dude Feeling Really Old Now” group.Similar blog post about Chatroulette: http://bit.ly/bRV1ab

    1. fredwilson

      right. i’d like to be able to self select into and out of certain types of chats

  22. Druce

    I could swear these services were around for years…I think the number of people doing video chat might have reached critical mass with built-in video, and for whatever reason it just achieved memeness and mainstreamness.might be porn as usual out there on the leading edge of technology, or might just be a fad… somehow got old enough to not know the difference anymore – need to ask kids LOL.

    1. fredwilson

      every mac laptop comes with a built in webcam. maybe all laptops do. i don’t know because i haven’t bought anything other than a mac laptop in years

      1. kidmercury

        “i don’t know because i haven’t bought anything other than a mac laptop in years”pfft

      2. Druce

        adventures of Gustaf the human skull on chatroulettehttp://www.dailymotion.com/…from http://www.reddit.com/searc… – some more funny stuff on thereit is indeed odd that there was random chat for a long time, and video chat, but no one mashed them up like thiscan’t wait for the Simpsons, South Park and insult comics to get a hold of this

  23. jeremystein

    maybe it is the same founder as omegle? same concept but with video.

  24. andrewparker

    Porn is voyeurism. ChatRoulette is voyeurism. But, that does not mean to me that ChatRoulette is Porn.

    1. ShanaC

      We all look at car crashes, don’t we, Mr. Parker? The question is why do we look, and what do we see.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Very JGB’esque, Shana.

    2. andyswan

      “I know it when I see it” — Potter Stewart

      1. andrewparker

        I remember reading about that court case and feeling queasy about theimplications. The question is not if something is porn to one individualperson, but whether we all collectively define something to be porn, as asociety. Potter Stewart’s highly subjective approach isn’t representativeof society’s opinion. On the contrary, I suspect a Supreme Court justice’sopinion of what is-or-isn’t porn would differ greatly from the averagecitizen.Someone should make a Mechanical Turk-powered service called “Is This Porn?” It takes as input the object in question (could be an image, text, URL,etc…) and outputs the average opinion of 50 MTurkers as to whether or notsomething is or isn’t porn. Could be of great service to our country 🙂

        1. Ken Schafer

          A Mechanical Turk-powered “Is This Porn?”Great idea. It just needs two buttons to keep people engaged for hours – “Yes!” and “No :(“

        2. ShanaC

          If I am not mistaken- that is pretty much the legal definition of porn.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Doesn’t voyeurism denote that those being watched don’t know that they’re being watched? How does that characterize porn or Chatroullette? Chatroulette sounds more like mutual exhibitionism.In a sense, though, blogging, tweeting, and commenting on others’ blogs is a form of verbal exhibitionism. The main difference with Chatroulette seems to be the video element.

    4. Glenn Gutierrez

      Yeah. It’s more like 2 girls 1 cup.

    5. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

      Chatroulette may not be porn, but it sure as hell CONTAINS a lot of porn.

  25. karen_e

    This discussion is going to be way too interesting. I have to get my work done so I can get out before the blizzard fires all the way up! See you all some other time – have a drink for me, ok?!

  26. Jarrett Collins

    As coincidence would have it, I attended a presentation at my kids’ school last night on children and social networks. You’ve probably heard that sites like Facebook are rife with sexual predators who count on the naivete of minors to “friend” them and possibly become their next victims, and I see ChatRoulette as a very disturbing amplification of this trend. After recently overhearing a 15-year old brag to a friend that she spent “the entire weekend!” on ChatRoulette (setting aside the likely exaggeration), I believe this is worse than simple time-wasting… This is a young, hopeful, impressionable child who could just as easily be your daughter or mine — how could these “adult” video feeds do anything but *harm* her ability to form an opinion of what healthy adult behavior looks like?

    1. fredwilson

      i think our responsibility as parents is to talk to our kids about weirdos and deviant behavior and prepare them for when they might get hit with it. that way when they do, they’ll know how to react. my kids live in the west village in NYC and walk to school every day. they see transvestite prostitutes on our block on the evenings in the weekends. they understand that they are messed up things and messed up people and don’t let it bother them. i don’t think we can pretend that we can stop our kids from ever coming upon such a thing.

      1. Jarrett Collins

        I get the parental responsibility thing, Fred, so why don’t we go ahead and let those charming prostitutes practice their craft in transparent cubes right there at street level (think bedroom-sized versions of the 5th Avenue Apple store)? The prostitutes could more effectively advertise their craft and it’d be a great cultural excursion for the kiddies, who could safely watch from the other side of a pane of glass. Everybody wins!

      2. Pete

        Thanks for this comment, Fred. I checked out chatroulette, and I find it very creepy. My immediate thought was: if this is what we have now, what will my 4 year old son experience once he’s online? It’s chilling. But you’re right… this is our world, and I’m responsible for helping him learn to put it into perspective.

  27. David Gillespie

    What I like about it is it feels like a hark back to the days where the web was more unguarded, where it wasn’t easy to get around and you would stumble across random content – not always anything you wanted to see, but it had that pioneer spirit about it.I don’t know if its for me, but I can totally appreciate the seemingly lawless nature of it; who knows what you might find?

  28. kirklove

    I must be old, never heard of Chatroulette. It’s not my thing, but I love the concept and stripped down nature. It’s the anti-social network (i.e. not FB or Twitter). That’s going to become more and more prevalent with younger kids as they tend to migrate away from the established mainstream and let’s face it, FB is mainstream. (My 72 year old mom is on it.)More importantly how was Marea? I’m going Thursday and can’t wait. Sounds like I should def get the fusilli. Probably just me, but every time I hear fusilli I think of Kramer’s Fusilli Jerry pasta sculpture http://www.youtube.com/watc

    1. fredwilson

      check gothamgal.com for a review. i’m sure she’ll post it this morning.i loved it.

  29. BmoreWire

    well my fiance and I tried it. never heard of it before this post. We saw 2 men pleasuring themselves and 2 weird dudes giving bug-eyed faces. Then had to go to a meeting. We are intrigued….we could do without the dudes pleasuring themselves though.

  30. Kevin

    I think it could be the most compelling social networking site yet. The basic concept could be SO interesting and compelling if it was around a non-creepy topic. I think right now it is adult (I hope adult anyway) friend finder 2.0. Sort of like “Hot or Not” on steroids. It’s creepy. At times a lot creepy.Take the porn out for a moment and imagine it as a virtual mall or street where you can shop with your friends or meet new ones. Imagine it as an extension of this site where you could discuss rather than type. What about speed dating — others have made that comment too I know. I have thought for a long time that the built in camera on my mac is way underused. There simply isn’t much to do with it yet. Something like this doesn’t just bring visual to life. For me Facebook is 100% friends that I know. Twitter is 98% people that I don’t know personally. This – down the road – could be what both of those currently lack for me. A place where you actually meet new people.Allow people to opt into a topic – whether it be porn, the weather today, what’s going on tonight, the iPad, or just the entire stream like it is now, and it gets real interesting I think.

    1. David Fishman

      We have tackled this “live” shopping and e-commerce experience sans the video. The next steps are to add video. We noticed that in our “public lobby” that a lot of spam chat was created. We plan to add an enhancement that allows shoppers to connect to other shoppers through a feature called “who’s around.” Your products create a profile of who you are and what you’re looking at so you can connect with other shoppers that have similar interests! Great point and yes shopping + ecommerce can and has benefited from this type of open social experience!

  31. spencerbryan

    I tried to merely access the website at work – apparently Websense classifies it as porn:The ***** ***** ******* Internet Usage policy restricts access to this web page at this time.Reason:The usage category “Adult Content” is filtered.

    1. fredwilson

      well there you gobut AVC.com is blocked by a few web filters as “porn” toomaybe someone used it as such a long time agoi don’t think there’s much porn here now

      1. spencerbryan

        I haven’t come across any yet but will be sure to let you know when/if I do.

      2. falicon

        avc is TOTALLY “knowledge porn” 😀

      3. Mike Mitchell

        haha well for what it’s worth BrightCloud classifies AVC as “Personal Sites and Blogs”

      4. Doug Kersten

        At one point Websense was blocking you because you were considered a personal/social website/forum. Like something is wrong with that.

  32. terrycojones

    My first thoughts are: – It’s too random to be long-term useful for anything other than getting off online with a stranger. – A better service would restrict the randomness: like pick someone from your 10K FOAF neighborhood. Then it’s guaranteed that you have something in common and part of the point is to discover what that thing is, and it can’t devolve (evolve) into the least common denominator (sex) because you for sure have a friend in common. And it becomes more interesting and valuable.I’m not saying chatroulette as it stands isn’t interesting or valuable, just that if you want something with very different dynamics, and long-term value that was clearly not about sex, the above is what I’d build.

    1. Max

      Restricting to FOF neighborhood kind of defeats the purpose. Just needs a ratings/feedback system like Ebay. Restrict chats to people who have 10, 100 positive views and you can community moderate the experience.

      1. Aneel

        Instead of moderation, how about selection? I’m thinking self-tagging, public tagging, & the ability to +1/-1 a tag.That way, I could select what cross-section of the userbase I’m interested in interacting with via a combination of tags.

      2. terrycojones

        Hi MaxI don’ t much like the ratings/feedback approach. It warps reality by encouraging people to behave in ways that increase their rating/feedback score. It also turns something that is currently flat (i.e., completely random) into something that starts to have a hierarchical feel.If you select totally randomly from your FOAF neighborhood, you preserve the flatness. I think that element is important.You’ve made me think a bit more (thanks :-)), and I guess I’d refine my idea by suggesting that there’s a dial for the level of randomness. Right now the dial is permanently set on MAX. You can imagine being able to dial down the randomness: 3rd neighborhood, FOAF, friends, etc). There’s a lot that could be done in selecting the pool from which to draw randomly (as Aneel says in the comment below).And, for parents, you can set the max dial position for your kids so their random chatting is restricted as you see fit.

        1. David Semeria

          Never thought I’d hear you argue *against* tagging, Terry 🙂

    2. jhill

      It’d be interesting to have a separate side to the service, but _excluding_ anyone in your FOAF neighborhood. Then when you are ready to get down and totally devolve, you can be sure that you won’t accidentally end up awkwardly talking to your similarly devolved boss / neighbor / family.

      1. terrycojones

        Hi jhillOn the internet you can never be sure :-)See my followup to Max (just posted). I think this is another argument for some sort of selection pool dial. Imagine a setting “I’m totally drunk/horny/stoned, connect me to someone I’m guaranteed not to know” !

  33. christmasgorilla

    This actually existed back in the early days of the internet around 2000.I was an engineer at a company called CUseeMe that developed much of the first generation of webcam technology. The company had a dual strategy of trying to sell communication tools to the Fortune 1000 and having consumer software for those pre-Skype and iChat days. To push the consumer focus, we created a site called CUworld–which was basically the equivalent of chatroulette–though you could have group chats.Needless to say, CUworld quickly degenerated to porn and we spent an inordinate amount of money to pay admins to monitor the service. Eventually it was shut down as it provided no revenue and was a blight on the B2B side of things.However, one enterprising sales engineer and an engineer saw the success of CUworld in terms of usage and went off and set up a porn company based around chatroulette (I can’t remember the name). I’m pretty sure their revenues in their third month of business were approaching the revenues of CUseeMe as a publicly traded internet company vintage 2000.

    1. christmasgorilla

      Also, a few points on how the usage patterns on CUworld played out:1) People were really intrigued by the service and we had huge usage from inital users to the service.2) That initial intrigue petered out after about a month, and the people that continued to use the service were the ones most often flagged for indecent exposure.

      1. fredwilson

        well there you go, that’s very useful perspective

      2. Doug Kersten

        Maybe something like Chatroulette could be organized around stories. I know that in the news industry they are finding that when you organize the citizen journalists around a story/topic the quality and participation levels increase dramatically.

  34. Farhan Lalji

    I think there’s definitely some value in providing the service for communities. I’d love to see a investors/entrepreneurs chatroulette, or a developer / business chat roulette, where you could meet people at random but know that you had similar interests. Kind of like a meetup but without the awkwardness of trying to figure out who to approach and speak to.

  35. charlessmith

    My experience mirrored Reece’s exactly (sadly), butI think this could be an amazing event based experience- imagine “attending” the saints super bowl parade in this mode- randolmy chatting with folks who were actually there and it gets very interesting.

  36. Bob

    I used it a few times, for random chats. It takes a while to find someone to converse with, but is worth it occasionally. Then I told my girlfriend about it, and we hid our faces and had sex on camera at her suggestion. Some people thought it was pre-recorded so started giving directions… which we followed. It was fun and almost all feedback was positive!

  37. Geoff

    What a great site and follows your rules about keeping it simple to start with. In the space of 5mins I chatted to a guy in Strasburg, someone in China and laughed with someone else. Its certainly beats the latest offerings from Google!

  38. Morgan Warstler

    It wouldn’t work on Facebook. Or even MySpace. It’s promise is the ability to choose your level of anonymity. That’s lost with Facebook. Knowing who the other person is, or them instantly knowing you, tampers down the behavior – making it less compelling.Also, if this grabs your socks, I doubt you’ve spent time around semi-porn site stickam, or the nether regions of ustream et al.It looks looks like a simple red5 server.

  39. kskobac

    Its funny to think that I’m active into probably 50-100 social networks and I can’t see myself as social enough to use ChatRoulette. I can’t see CR in its current form being more than a fad, but it does seem to have interesting application. I like the idea of launching it within niche communities, like for example here at AVC- I’m sure many of us would love to flip through the group having more direct conversations about subjects that come up here. Also, I love Fred’s line “if you don’t try to wrap your head around stuff like this, you can’t stay on top of where the internet is going”; I completely agree.

  40. Matthew Craig-Greene

    More useful and, hence, probably less exciting, would be the ability to chat with strangers that had a shared interest

  41. Andrew Stern

    I just tried it and found the experience incredibly jarring. I can’t remember being that affected by something in a long, long time. I don’t know how it will evolve but I’m fascinated to see what happens. Remember: all new media types start with porn.For some reason I’m reminded of an old John Hodgman radio piece (http://bit.ly/oLsR) asking which superpower you’d rather have: flight or invisibility. Each has its own potential, and its own temptations. (Also: flight is who you think you want to be, invisibility is who you fear you probably are.) If Twitter gives you the power of flight, Chatroulette gives you the power of invisibility. Which will most people choose?

    1. fredwilson

      there’s a quote about art that i don’t think it can get right, but it’s something like if it impacts you, it’s art.

      1. Aviah Laor

        (or money)

      2. ShanaC

        “Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change it can not only move us, it makes us move.” Ossie Davissomething like that?

        1. fredwilson


          1. ShanaC

            It’s a very true quote. type of thing that always rings true once you getinvolved in the process of making stuff…

  42. Jason L. Baptiste

    oh, have you seen the “Great hatsby project”. It basically goes through livejournal, finds two random screennames and connects them together with a screenname in the middle.http://thenoisychannel.com/

  43. ChatrouletteGuy twitter

    I made a video called 1 man 2 fish which caused this chatroulette craze.http://www.youtube.com/watc

  44. Jeremy

    I have a hard enough time avoiding idiots in day-to-day contact. Why would I actively seek them out?In seriousness, this doesn’t seem like a super healthy concept to me. Not just in terms of protection against say, sexual activity or heavy sexual innuendo, but how long until someone inadvertently stumbles upon a crime being committed, a suicide, or something simply purposefully and willfully disturbing?

  45. James Alonso

    my sense is that the amount of unsavory content in any online community is directly proportional to the level of anonymity it allows. if there were a service like this that verified accounts or had a way to rank users as good or bad members of the community, it could go a long way towards eliminating the creepy guy masturbating on couch element.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great observation and you are right on

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      You got him as well? Got to admire his endurance, I guess. ;-)Seriously though – yes, I agree.I have always believed this – verification/transparency – to be a pre-requisite to commenting in any online community.

    3. raycote

      Is this not a form of anti-community? There is no sustained interplay, absolutely no substrate on which to grow any relationships.Which reminds me of a clever phrase about community that I read on theoildrum.comThings that grow together work together

  46. Charles Birnbaum

    This is all tied to the emerging backlash from a younger generation that has grown up staring at their computer screens connecting with people they already now. These young people will grow up with a visceral desire to connect with strangers and there will be a bevy of tools that allows them to do so. Some in a “disturbing” way and others in a very useful way. The fact that people in middle school could become obsessed with this tool demonstrates where we are heading…

  47. Mark Essel

    Here’s why I find Chatroulette a compelling service. -It’s Raw: no authority, control or moderation of the channel-It Promotes Social Serendipity, you never know what you’re going to find. This unknown social exploration is appealing-It’s One Node to Another. It can be “intimate” with an absolute stranger-It’s the Craiglist of the Social Web, minimal and a rejection of all the heavy trappings of social ties that all other networks work to build-It’s frivolous, it’s cheap, it’s deep, it’s all those things and more. Without trying to be something “incredible”.I’m kinda worried about how I’d act on such a social channel. Who am I to a stranger?

  48. Michael Dizon

    I never really got what makes services like these catch on. How did your kids find out about it, and how did their friends find out about it?

    1. fredwilson

      word of mouth

  49. marvinavilez

    It’s the “Penny Arcade” of the internet! …..Where do I buy my popcorn?

  50. Tereza

    Two things at play here. Randomness and Social Connection. Powered by the Velocity of the web.Together, they are a stimulating brew. E-crack.I’ve been looking at both pretty deeply on my startup, Honestly Now, which is different from this, but leverages some of this. Here’s what I can share about each:Randomness: It’s addictive. Causes endorphins to spike. It’s not so much the “what might happen”, but the *anticipation* of what might happen. The broader range of possible random outcomes, the more powerful the spike. So in this case, it’s global and there are no controls. So literally anything can happen. And that puts you on the edge of your seat. So to optimize Randomness, think Breadth = Good.When you narrow the population segment, you narrow the outcomes. Seems good because users said they wanted it. Problem is, it dampens their endorphin spike and they’ll trail off quickly. For better or for worse, on some level here, “no means yes”.Hot or Not is an apt example. Competitors tried to “improve” on Hot or Not by kicking out the “ugly girls”. It didn’t work. The “Ugly Girls”, it turns out, are a critical part of the formula. “Ugly Girls” make users feel superior, make people laugh, make the “Pretty Girls” look prettier — and importantly, keeps users on the edge of their seat hoping for the next Pretty Girl.(NOTE: this is an intellectual/strategic analysis, and not reflective of my Feminist 2.0 views. I’m a mother of two girls and personally repulsed by the potential exploitation and lack of respect going on here. BUT — it’s human nature at work and we need to understand it, to parse out if there are any tools we can use)Now for Social Connection. When we connect with people, we are exposed. That’s a different, also powerful, endorphin kick. In this case, it’s fear of the depth. So to optimize for Social Connection, think Depth = Good.What I see happening here in ChatRoulette is a double endorphin kick of Breadth + Depth. Then layer in the velocity of this happening over and over again in minutes or seconds or microseconds. Velocity.[Breadth + Depth} * Velocity = Massive Sensory SpikeSome people (e.g. teens, pervs) have time on their hands and seeking sensory spikes is what they do, and so they’ll come back for more. Some of us need usefulness; those of is won’t find that here.I am working hard to capture the good parts of this dynamic in a way that makes sense to users and makes sense to a successful, sustainable business for Honestly Now. We are pedal to the metal to get our beta to consumer test and if that works, broader release.Stay tuned!

    1. Jarrett Collins

      Awesome analysis… thank you and good luck with the startup!

    2. fredwilson

      that’s a great analysis Tereza. thanks for doing that.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Fred,When I went to click on “In reply to Tereza” above your comment, I don’t see her whole comment because of the way Disqus formats it (in that narrow strip). Perhaps Disqus could change that format to accommodate longer comments?

    3. raycote

      Hold up there – Tereza Mcluhan?Talk about reducing an organic holon to a workable set of reusables.Thanks for instantly rewiring my brain in regards to applying the generic concept of depth vs breath to an instance of a social network node’s visceral amplitude response. Notice I replaced + with vs. I usually think of depth being traded off against breadth. Examples, more depth of compression less breadth of time for transmission, english character set has less breadth of base symbols but more depth of recombinant encoding/decoding per word or concept than a Chinese character sets.Then you added in velocity which is not part of the way I usually reuse this concept. I guess my conceptualization is is a more limited one that only applies to codec trade offs.Although your formulaic concept makes immediate intuitive sense. I am left struggling to internalize it as a personal reusable generic conceptual framework. I’m wanting to make that + a * thought. I guess I am just over thinking the whole thing!But that is just what I do. DUH!What is that old saying? When you realize your are digging yourself into a hole, the best thing to do is just keep digging 😉 So I will.Another thing that could be added to the formula is something to represent noise in the channel. The noise reduces the impact of the over all positive visceral amplitude response. In this case the creep factor would be noise that reduces my over all visceral enjoyment response but others might argue that the creepy factor is a positive response amplifier for them? I guess one woman’s noise attenuator is another man’s amplifier. Put another way the noise in the channel is reduced by properly matching the channel content filters to the audience’s preference.

      1. Tereza

        Hey Rayvcote — I’m thrilled you had fun with it. You make me laugh.Yep, I can spin off 2-bit amateur social analyses faster than it takes Steve Jobs to pick out a black turtleneck.No doubt it can be perfected, refuted, or heck, maybe even advanced to a higher level.All I need, personally, is something simple enough that people nod their heads and get on board.The goal? To build a business that has money flying out of my ears. :-)Have a great weekend!

  51. Michael F. Martin

    It’s social life without the substrate of social networks — it’s an all-to-all social network.The viscosity created by our social bonds is both a curse and a blessing. It keeps us in productive rather than (self-stimulatory, but empty?) less productive channels of activity.Culture is a game, and chatroulette invites us to rethink its rules from scratch. The results are not engaging for most people, most of the time, representing the lowest common denominator of social life.

  52. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Will check it out – I’d never heard of it – but it sounds like a dystopian blend of Warhol and YouTube to me.The ego has never before been so well catered for …

  53. rsgopi

    This thing has the potential to become big if they can moderate the extreme behaviors and introduce age filters…I think the best way to do this is via a facebook connect integration, people may behave nicely when they are not anonymous

    1. Tereza

      The trouble with age filters is that young people don’t want to look at old people…but there are many old people who really want to look at young people! There’s an asymmetry which could bleed users if not handled right.Although I guess the dating sites understand this dynamic deeply.

      1. Aviah Laor

        It’s not the trouble with age filters, it’s the trouble with age 😀

        1. Tereza

          Yes! When Fred’s done with his Cone of Silence he should Quirky a Dorian Gray/Ponce de Leon Reverse Aging Machine.

          1. ShanaC

            Why am I the only person here looking forward to being older….

          2. Tereza

            because you’re younger? :-)Actually, I think it’s just younger on the *outside* that’s the age-old desire. young is hard!

  54. Josh Pierro

    I can’t wait to check this out!!

  55. ShanaC

    I believe in Wharhol, I believe in Pop. I believe in curiosity, I believe in youth, I believe in experimentation. I could spend hours there, just staring and being and letting go.I went and flipped through. Certain things fascinated me, certain things turned me off. I’m definitely not the porn type- I’m the cute and innocent type, who is out there to make a connection and smile back.I’ve actually wanted to make artwork that is even creepier than this, where the voice, chat, and sound are all rerouted to different sets of strangers instead of just one. So you are talking to a multiplicity of people and no one at the same time. Just to see how people relate. And how people would behave. I love this, because at my core, I do believe people want to connect uninhibitedly and don’t know how. Creating situations where they can is intensely interesting to me.I think you cannot get rid of the creepiness: I think it part of the nature of society, when we think we can get away with it, we expose parts of our most private selves to exposure. And I think that is what makes this so powerful. We are so afraid to be ourselves that we must cover it up even with elements such as sexuality- we can’t even have a conversation to find out the depths of the other person at the other end. And that is sad.It is was makes the original Facebook powerful too. And why you see such young people there. It has the essence of youth letting go and hanging out unbothered by adult eyes with rules. At least with Facebook there was some sense of structure- but the original one anything really went up before your employers came a knockin (and you had to change your profile…) But- you were able to hang out, and find out a little more about someone…and connect.This seems to get at that root: to be anything online.I wish I could truly be anything or display that essence of being anything….

  56. sweller

    It always seems that things that involve a slant of voyeurism tend to do very well on the internet.In some ways it’s a bit creepy. But isn’t Facebook a bit creepy? The randomness introduces such wide audience potential, that I think to be less creepy you need to start classifying groups and interests so people discover people who have the same expectations around what they might discuss when they encounter a complete stranger.

  57. JanetIsserlis


  58. hypermark

    Knee jerk is that the combination of visceral realness and retro has some legs, but there’s a need to overlay context (such as basic profiling, so I can NOT the masturbators, and people who agree to a decency “sniff test” protocol) and then use same to filter into simple channels (random, decency, local, funny, etc). Simple signal-to-noise tuner needed, IMHO.

  59. Siminoff

    I think this is the model that online dating could go to. Build a site that has some controls on it with this model and I think it would take off.I did try it out and it is definitely a very raw experience in the current format, http://jamessiminoff.com/po…I am however so excited by the model that if I was a free agent I think I would start working on that dating site today.

    1. christmasgorilla

      I don’t know, Jamie.Don’t you think that part of the appeal of online dating sites is that you are creating an avatar for yourself? Have you ever checked out he OKcupid blog about stats on messaging, etc (http://blog.okcupid.com/ind…There is so much posturing that goes on–and it’s important.To make it work as a dating concept, it would have to be speed dating. And then I guess the interesting thing to impose is: how do you make it fun and a little goofy? Does speed dating ever work in real life?

      1. Tereza

        Speed dating can work. I have friends that have gotten married and had kids from it. It’s efficient.The challenge is you have to go in w pre-defined criteria of what you want/need. Otherwise it’s hard to process. Or you use visual cues as shortcuts and they can be highly misleading.I see ancillary businesses around helping people make their best first impression on ChatRoulette, like they have in conventional online dating (eg prof’l headshots and written profiles… in this case scripting, modifying background set, voice coaching, etc)One of my mentors, a NY serial entrepreneur, it turns out tested a few photos on Hot or Not to pick the best one for J-Date.

  60. Guest

    There needs to be some sort of topic filter, IMO. Not sure how it would be implemented, since the odds of finding a match at exactly the right time are probably slim. Maybe you would go to the site, type in a keyword (i.e. music), and then everyone else that goes to the site could either 1) click on your topic to chat with you, or 2) add a new topic keyword for something they’re interested in (i.e. skateboarding or entrepreneurship).That still doesn’t cut out the wise-guys that would type an arbitrary keyword, and then get their jollies when someone clicks it and sees them naked… ruining the experience for everyone else.

  61. Mark

    I just tried it for a few minutes and it’s very scary. By that I mean that it plays into our extremely primal and venal instincts. The more time I spent on it the more I felt that I was being dragged down into a pit of anxiety, despair and corruption.I agree with most commenters that this ideas could be less “scary” and more productive and positive if it was based around a group or community of users (e.g., music fans, AVC readers, philosophy students, etc.). As is, turning on your web cam for this site is like shaking hands with the devil.

  62. Aviah Laor

    It’s amazing.Facebook is Caesar salad, this thing is a medium-rare 2 pounds steak. Yes, you understand that the salad is better for you.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      It’s a steak with a rich, additive-laden sauce, to hide the lack of true substance and provenance.Take-away food is instant gratification. Can’t beat home-cooking. Ever.

      1. Aviah Laor

        lol. The perfect relationship model for the 21 century. Next.However, it’s amazing because it feels like teleporting. One moment you are in NY, another in Australia. It’s nice as long as you avoid the Klingons .

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Lol. From what I have seen so far, and as I had already suspected, genitalia looks pretty much the same regardless of where one lives 😉

          1. Aviah Laor


        2. fredwilson

          i was going to compare it to teleporting in my post but then figured peoplewould think i’d spent too much time on chatroulette and was losing it

          1. Tereza

            Part of the risky thrill may be that while teleporting amongst strangers you happen to bump into someone you know — like your boss, your kid’s teacher, your minister/rabbi, etc..

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            … and – if one does- hopefully not whilst they’re, erm, you know … 😉

          3. Tereza

            Exactly! But then again, in that scenario, it’s hard to see their face.I do definitely think that “getting caught” or “getting recognized” is part of the perverse thrill. Feeds that endorphin spike.

  63. Eric Leebow

    It’s DailyBooth (with video), Stickam, ToxBox, WooMe Dating, Skype 2.0, or Seesmic, or Viddit (a future website, a video Twitter like 12 Seconds TV) definitely nothing completely new, yet fun to think about. I was an early adopter of ChatRoulette, and Omegle, tried them both out the first day they started. I think they are great, interesting, yet I think it’s a waste of time sometimes, as you’re not always connected to these people. I’m working on ideas where you can build in a social graph. I think that’s a better way to think about it. Definitely fun to think about, it’s a scary world out there, and chatting with strangers on the Internet is just a fun time waster. Some people should leave their clothes on, and it’s nice to see some guy in China, and I virtually met a beautiful Australian girl on the site and chatted with her once. The more people on the site, the less valuable it got, as more people left to chat with others quicker. There are much better things to do, like reading this blog or chatting with someone I’ve met in real life. Some guy in Russia is behind this website, and I think I’ve had a great time on it once or twice. It’s fun to put a mask on, and can’t wait to try it on Halloween 🙂 That’s when the traffic will probably spike, as I saw a lot of guys putting masks on. Seems to me more guys are doing it, or am I wrong?

    1. fredwilson

      eric, if you got to this day one, i need to pay more attention to what you are doing

      1. Eric Leebow

        Fred, I know about things before they come out on the Internet sometimes, just a little luck, and reading the right blogs. I already know something like a Boxee that someone is building, of course they don’t have a box and they are a smaller startup overseas. I keep up with the Web too much, and read blogs like Museum of Modern Betas, Killer Startups, etc. yet I was on ChatRoulette when there were less than 20 people on it. I think I found it from Killer Startups, or some startup blog comment.

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      On the internet, no-one knows you’re a dog.(Unless you’re on a Web Cam).

  64. Dylan Salisbury

    >”how did it take 15 years for the Internet to deliver this experience?”If I remember 1996 correctly, there was an online chat community that was naturally anonymous-by-default and had lots of room for danger and weirdos.Maybe this is a sign that people have started to assume mainstream Internet use is never anonymous, making anonymity a feature or category by itself.This is a good sign for mainstream Internet use and commerce, if it shows that consumers basically expect their identities to be exposed, and they trust identity information presented about others on most sites, and they’re not freaked out about that.

  65. Rob Freeborn

    This is great – video enabled chat lines that can advertise all night on CW and UPN in every major market….”Singles just like you that want to talk!”

  66. Ken Schafer

    I suggest they change the name to GoatseRoulette. Every time you move to the next chat window you’re pretty much begging for a goatse-esque experience.I spend a few minutes on ChatRoulette on the weekend and all I saw was guys wiggling their penises at me and the blank expressions of other guys waiting for me to wiggle my penis at them.I declined.I needed a hot shower and a unicorn chaser after that.

    1. Tereza

      Is this open API? Maybe someone can build a Unicorn Chaser App. Or an online confessional.

  67. ShanaC

    It reminds me of this movie, Warhol’s Sleep:http://www.youtube.com/watc…Creepy- because you are watching the privacy and perhaps problems of another. Maybe the internet has a bit of Warhol in it? Perhaps it has an anti-Foucault element to it?

  68. Alex Green

    Love the post Fred. Chat Roulette is not only an internet throwback because it randomly connects you with strangers and is simply designed; its also a throwback because its product function is clearly defined. It seems like the digital community latches on to a few buzz words (social, mobile, etc.) and every company w/ resources tries to play in those spaces instead of clearly defining the segments in which they have expertise and can dominate. Unfortunately, this makes the web less innovative instead of more. Instead of companies focused on dominating a sector and bettering the sector for it, they all coalesce around a small number of ideas and keep releasing products that are just variations on a theme. It’s unfortunate. Anyway, I talk more about it here: http://bit.ly/dnGevi but felt compelled to come and share my thoughts on your blog.

    1. fredwilson

      exactly. everyone is iterating on facebook, twitter, foursquare derivatives and this just felt more adventurous and out there.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        As Oscar Wilde advised: “Try everything once, expect incest and morris dancing”(I’d add this to that list!)

        1. fredwilson

          you are the quote masterthat’s a great one

  69. Carl Rahn Griffith

    OK, I had a look – the first thing I saw was some guy masturbating. Literally. No exaggeration.Civilisation. We’ve come so far … Jesus wept.

    1. Eric Leebow

      Very true, can we at least have a PG version? It would be much better that way. I understand it’s a small startup website probably, yet when you come to think of it, we do not want children under 18 visiting ChatRoulette to see this. My 15 year old sister might go on it, which is fine, as that’s what she wants to do. Sites like SpeedDate.com you have to be 18 when accepting the user agreement.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        I do wonder/despair about the true added-value-to-humanity aspect of the web at times, especially with its ever increasing bandwidth and reach.Time will tell – for it’s still too early to say re: this relatively new 24×7 high-speed online era of demographics – whether the power of the bandwidth-rich-web has created/enabled more great thinkers/minds or simply created unprecedented numbers of degenerates/weirdos.I have my own theory. 🙁

      2. Tereza

        It’s a snowday so imagine I’ve been stuck in the house and the kids are home from school bouncing off the walls.Could I pick a worse day to give ChatRoulette a spin?? Needless to say first screen is a guy whacking off; my network blips out, not responding, frozen. In walks in my 6 y.o. daughter. Crap! Thankfully wasn’t quite paying attention. I snap my laptop shut. Now THAT’s an endorphin spike. I’m practically still sweating.I feel like a footsoldier for “Crossing the Chasm”.

        1. fredwilson


          1. Tereza

            don’t be. I should’ve know better! insane convergence of factors.

        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Is this that SAME guy that we novices all keep seeing as our first view?!?!? Lol. Boy, does he have stamina, or – more likely – there’s some cynical pre-loaded ‘shock’ default streams from them?This all takes me back to the ‘outrage’ that was JenniCam (sp?) a few years ago – anyone here remember that?

          1. Tereza

            EUREKA!!! Carl you’ve led me to figure out their business model!! ChatRoulette charges for more frequent rotation and “prime placement”.I have to confess that, not to be deterred, I went back later (when the girls were sledding outdoors) to get a “broader” view of the service (purely in the name of Market Research).Out of ten clicks got 3 whackoff situations…and by the looks of their, er…packages….and angles….they were most definitely not the same guy.Wow. it’s nutty.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            I admire your professional persistence, Tereza – you have more willpower than I! If one persisted further and ‘chatted’ with some of the more ‘provocative’ people therein, I wonder what % of them suddenly (after a few mins of cheeky banter/teasing) suggest you contact them directly 1:1 (with your credit card details to hand) to go ‘the whole way’ ….? If not now, then surely it’s just a matter of time. I guess whoever is behind this will then simply want a cut of the action.

          3. Tereza

            Thanks Carl!I can totally see the scenario you painted playing out.I’m not an engineer so folks if this is a dumb question forgive me — but let’s say a filtering service — does that HAVE to be part of the core application, or could that be an API done by someone else?

  70. marisol123

    Has anyone had anymore info about the founding team since this post? So far I’ve gotten that they’re based in the Netherlands and their website was only registered Nov 2009

    1. fredwilson

      i’d like to meet them.netherlands. of course.

  71. keith

    Just tried it… No thanks. Social gutter-networking!I feel soiled. Think I’ll take a shower.

  72. Keith B. Nowak

    I don’t think Chatroulette is Facebook 2.0 but instead a long delayed 2.0 version of old school AOL chat rooms. Same concept (meet and chat with random people) with newer tech. In this form I can just imagine the stuff people will do with it but I do think there is an interesting concept beneath it all that speaks to our human nature of wanting to reach out and connect with new people. Applying it to more focused communities or implementing some sort of user monitoring system for objectionable content may help make it more mainstream. That said, I don’t think it is a site I would spend much time on but I always love being proven wrong re: user adoption for things that push the boundaries like this.

    1. Jens

      I agree with the AOL chatroom analogy and also seems a bit like open phone chat room that the Telcos provided 20 some years ago. They blossomed and faded away. Creepy service BTW. Its the first time I thought about putting filters on my kids computers.

  73. Scott Goldie

    Rather than force groups, tags, or other sorts of categorizing, I think what would help the site with ‘context’ would be to add a couple of simple features: an ignore button, and a favorite button. That way, you won’t get each ‘fiddler’ more than once, and you will also be able to reconnect with people you did find interesting while still keeping anonymity (i.e. not having to hookup via a more traditional social network). The ignore and favorites data could also then be used to provide a softer kind of filtering if needed.

  74. Glenn Gutierrez

    Wow. What a wild but cool service. haha. Going to send this to really conservative people and see what they think/how they react =P

  75. FlavioGomes

    I have barely enough bandwidth to spend with my close and extended network of real friends let alone wasting my time searching for random strangers to play head games with. Just how much time do people have on their hands for stuff like this? Well..Chatroulette will of course be a hit with the kids who thought they had found the “end” of the internet and with others who are lonely and seeking a virtual wanderlust.Ask any long term bartender at a tourist resort what their thoughts are on the strangers they meet day in day out from all over the world. They quickly get over the titillation of anyone offering anything new, even the bizarre and macabre.

    1. FlavioGomes

      I’m compelled to add further thought to this discussion. I haven’t stopped thinking about this since I first read Freds post and I haven’t even visited the site yet. I’m afraid to. While I’m sure there’s pockets of really interesting people to spend some time with – not that I have much- I just don’t need any more evidence of just how fucked a specie we arehave become.And I just wonder what the theoretical threshold is of meaningful relationships one person can have in a lifetime. One thing for sure, there is HUGE money to be made here. I just don’t know if I could invest in it. I’m not certain something like this has any real long term benefits unless there;s some serious filtering, and I hate thinking about making money off of something like this…I’d feel like a drug dealer

      1. fredwilson

        I’m with you

  76. gattoo

    First impressions:Changes our usual first chat question from ASL (Age/Sex/Location) to Location / Time and how freak are you.Would be great if it has context sensitivity.buggy. need a lot of work to make it stable. Every time I attempted to chat, it killed Firefox.It’s fast. In a matter of 3 minutes I saw people from Boston, Argentina, and some icy locals.Would work great if used outdoors. All the players I saw were in their homes. In their own homes everyone becomes a little free and wild, at times.Would work great with a Search behindWould work wonders with a fast log-in system and searching these log-ins for a chat. Then can be used meaningfully.CNN would be proud of this service. CNN can curate the feeds.Can replace Twitter. So, Fred can start investing into it. 🙂 Who says Twitter is not used for porn?Overall, very interesting.

  77. AndrewLee

    I just found out about it tonight, but it reminds me of all the problems and all the benefits of Craigslist (and really connecting with other people for example). Unlike the broadcast, asynchronous mediums of YouTube, etc. , this site seems directly made so we can connect with a a real person and be entertained (in the broadest sense). The anonymity allows people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do when connected to their identity (allows cool performance art too).You’ll notice that a lot of folks like to visit chartroulette together with friends because it’s like going out. It’s safer that way too. Being able to tell somebody… “crazy night, we saw… and….”The internet is supposed to be our window into another world right? I guess this is the first real start of that. And… maybe, just maybe, we’ll be entertained by someone like us (or shocked by a fat guy in a bra).

    1. Tereza

      “You’ll notice that a lot of folks like to visit chartroulette together with friends because it’s like going out. It’s safer that way too. Being able to tell somebody… “crazy night, we saw… and….””Andrew that’s a really interesting observation. I hadn’t thought about that but you’re totally right. People do have a need to tell their crazy/funny stories. It’s more fun when those stories are unique to them (as opposed to relaying movies or TV shows they saw).This is like a “crazy story generator”.

      1. fredwilson

        If you read sam’s ny mag piece (which I linked to in the post) doing it with his friend got him back into it after a first experience not unlike yours

        1. Tereza

          thx will check!

  78. Chatroulette

    Boob Hunting Guides, Pictures, Discussions, Videos Galleries and More!Check it out, Just Started and constantly growingChatroulettehalloffame.comAlso, Check out the missed encounters section, for those who you had long conversation with that ended with the next

  79. marccomments

    I think it’s fascinating. I expect this type of function to appear on Facebook and other social networking sites down the road. This is huge. I feel like for the first time, I honestly, can see where things are headed and once you’re able to do chatroulette within interest groups, it’ll have a real purpose for adults.

  80. Shahar Nechmad

    It really reminds me of an old ICQ feature – Start random chat. Basically instead of IM with one of your friends you could have started and IM session with a random person online. I actually really liked this feature. It allowed me to kill some boring time by talking with complete strangers who sometime were very interesting people from all around the globe.It’s not a replacement or a competitor to Facebook. It simply answer a very important need that still exists of connecting with new people in unexpected ways.

  81. otoemlak.com

    thank you

  82. Tereza

    My head is still spinning from ChatRoulette. Not sure if I’m ready for the today’s post, may need a nap first.It was a barnburner. Thanks, Fred.

  83. leigh

    My first job out of HS while i was going through university was a company in Toronto called Telepersonals (my brother had done the original computer programming for it – it was all telephone based dating and chat services). When it stared it was full of weirdness and weirdos. Of course, over time it’s turned into a over 100 million dollar a year company in multiple countries called Lavalife.I will say however, the chat service was bar far the strangest part of it. All of us being pretty young at the time, one of our tech guys rigged the phones so we could hear what the heck was going on (working there we just sold memberships and were as perplexed as anyone as to what people really were ‘chatting’ about). It was a wide range – from phone sex to weird geeky people trying to connect with each other. All i could think of at the time was the Henry David Thoreau quote “we live lives of quiet desperation” and honestly, i think if random video chat services will tap into anything it’s that.

    1. Tereza

      I have a friend who recently weaned herself off an addiction to online poker. The gaming was probably 10% of the thrill for her (although she is into the game part too). The community was the pull. She described it as worse than high school — popularity, alliances, betrayals. She couldn’t keep herself away, because her real life was a little slow, some low-grade despair.There is a strain of housewives stuck at home, a little bored, who will definitely be drawn to ChatRoulette teleportation.

  84. Keenan

    community is almost always developed around a common theme, whether it is geographic or it is a an idea, or experiencecommunity – “of commmon interest”this “randomness” comes from lack of common themes. when left to our own devices without a common interest or theme our basic human nature comes out and that is porn and random shit.the next iteration maybe to allow people to build communities or identify with topics.

  85. vb

    It sounds like what Pseudo chat was way back in the Josh Harris days.

  86. Wavelengths

    I find it especially interesting that this particular piece has generated so many comments in just over a day — 263 at this time. The subject must strike a chord.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m pleased to see that too

  87. sixtythree

    it’s like old days on irc and I agree, Facebook is for office drones

  88. Barkmeister

    Omegle’s been out for years. Whats the big deal here?

    1. fredwilson

      video, it seems

  89. Harry

    good luck NOT trying to find guys jerking off.. thats mostly what it is, and topless men looking for a topless girl they will never find

  90. fred wilson

    there are so many sites like thiswhat are you talking about fred?

    1. fredwilson

      can you share them with me? that would be helpful

  91. loopylover

    gotta love the randomness

  92. vinniv

    I’ve been using Chatroulette.com for about 4 days now, and have spent close to 7 hours on the site. It’s highly addictive and sparked an interesting idea (feel free to run with this if you choose)…Forgive me if this has already been mentioned in previous comments as I havent read through all 274 comments posted before I wrote this:A facebook app that starts out my completely replicating chatroulette.com’s functionality. A simple window that shows your video, and one above that shows who you are connected to. But this lives inside of facebook and the app itself resembles a users profile. There is an area for Info, Education, About, Photos, etc. By default, all of these profile fields are blurred out. When you are video chatting with someone and actually engage in conversation, you can choose to ‘unblur’ certain aspects of your profile. Lets say you are comfortable showing them the country you are located in, or show them some of your photos. As time goes on, you can unblur more elements, or re-blur them…The moment you hit Next, your entire profile becomes blurred again for the next video chat.Here’s the viral element: When Im on chatroulette.com, I dont want/need to see certain types of people (most young men on the site probably only want to be connected to females). So, if you invite your friends to the application (and they accept and install the app), you are allowed to start using search criteria. The more friends you invite that join, the more granular your searching can be. So, maybe I only want to see females, from North America, aged 25-35 that have interests x,y,z. In order to be able to be matched with that exact demographic (and im sure FB has plenty of those people) you’ll need to invite x number of friends.If I invite 10 friends, maybe I unlock the “gender” search ability. If I invite 25 friends, maybe the country search ability….and so on.Anyone that has used chatroulette.com has most likely seen their fare share of male genitals. I guess there are plenty of people in the world that feel like sharing this. But with Facebook, everyone is technically connected to a profile, so if you break the ToS or step out of line, that “report offensive behavior” link becomes a lot more powerful than on chatroulette.com. I could foresee a type of filtering where if your reported-abuse vs a simple next ratio gets too high and crosses a threshold, you are blocked from the application for a given time period. Multiple offenses warrant higher block periods. So the community governs itself with crowdsourced management.Of course, if you dont want to invite friends and want to jump straight to the filtering ability, you can buy virtual currency to unlock these features :-)Viral aspect, revenue model, community moderation controls.Please, someone build this…and call it FaceRoulette.com

    1. fredwilson

      The idea of building this inside of fb has been discussed. Some think it could work. Others don’t because it takes the wacky ‘freak show” element away

      1. vinniv

        if you could maintain the ‘anonymous’ factor and truly ensure it, it might get popular…im thinking a section for ‘bizarre and weird’ may help separate the everyday folks from the exhibitionist, that might do the trick.

    2. fredwilson

      that idea in various forms has been suggested a number of times in thisthread. it’s a damn good one

  93. Doug Kersten

    I tried this out last night. Actually I spent about 2.5 hours on it. It is very addicting. The surprising conclusion that I came to is that people are using it like television. Clicking Next is equivalent to changing a channel and everyone seems to do it a lot! Channel surfing that is. When you find something interesting you stop. The difference is that if the channel you are watching doesn’t want to watch you back it changes! The majority seem to be using it for entertainment. I expected it to be used more for communication. When I tried to be a more serious communicator I didn’t get a lot of takers. However, when I tried to entertain (shocked, angry, sad, etc. expressions at various angles) people were interested, or at the very least amused. I don’t think topics/stories/manual groupings will work with this. I think something that works like Pandora does would though. In fact, that could be quite compelling! It is definitely a unique service and I will have to think about it some more.

    1. Doug Kersten

      Oh, and most of the users seemed to be in their late teens to mid-twenties and a lot of people seemed to be doing other things while watching the stream of people go by. Just like television, or maybe hanging out at a cafe and watching the traffic go by.

    2. fredwilson

      Me too

  94. Cody A. Ray

    Its certainly has amazing potential for connecting people globally, but until it has stricter guards (at minimum, an “I don’t want to see anything pornographic” option would be nice) then I don’t see myself using it to connect to anyone.

  95. darla brown

    A lot of the questionable content could be mitigated by using some of the StumbleUpon tools — allowing the community to filter out those who abuse it and let the interesting chatters rise to the top. Further, you could stumble by topic – scientists meeting scientists, engineers meeting engineers, writers meeting writers, etc. It’s a good idea and will evolve over time.

  96. paramendra

    I have not tried it yet, but I get the impression it is a mixed bag, but largely positive and humdrum.

  97. Milady

    I had so muche fun on chatroulette! thanks :)There’s also a lot of funny screenshots here:http://www.bestofchatroulet

  98. dgulbran

    Well, I just got around to checking it out… and my experience was less than positive. I’d been to Times Square back in the day… and never saw even close to that much male genitalia.Chatroulette amounted to 60% naked men masturbating/30% College students drinking or smoking weed/8% lurkers/2% interesting people to chat with.I hope it takes another 15 years to deliver this experience!

  99. Best of Chatroulette

    For all those who Loves chatroulette, you’ll find a lot of funny screenshots on this site:http://www.bestofchatroulet

  100. Denie010

    This one is hilarious!!4 guys with music behind the cam on chatroulette..Watch the reactions of funny and crazy people.It’s a special world!!http://www.youtube.com/watc

  101. Mark

    I am 48 year old, married with two children and I I’ve spent a few hours on Chatroulette yesterday. I found the idea original and I expect to see the services like this to expand further with obscene content filtering and preferencing to different social, geographical and other groups with the mutual interest or ideas.Although many expressed their concern about kid’s safety my view is that the video chat could enable kids to be more in control of their own safety than text chat. If most teens are in fact looking to chat with other teens, it is much easier for them to screen out older adults and anyone who’s doing explicitly sexual things. It’s actually more difficult to lie about your age, gender, or physical features when the camera is focused directly on you. I think that this service probably won’t last the way it is currently. There are too many unacceptable cultural and moral boundaries that are crossed—like random and unpredictable exposure to nakedness.

  102. Dada Patate

    Chatroulette is good, but FaceBuzz is better! It’s faster, it has a porn filter and lots of good features! Same principle, different people! 🙂

  103. greg zade

    There is a multi-party version of chatroulette,which has been floating around for some time,called mebeam.It currently allows up to 3 random people to connect, in much the same fashion.http://www.mebeam.com/roule…gz

  104. Scott Smeester

    Very interesting point, Miles. Yes, if it goes that way it will be a problem. However, if there is a way to truly maintain the anonymity (at the front of a relationship) but still based on topic (no thanks to dudes whackin their pud), that could be valuable. We all want more meaningful relationships… faster!