In Airtime Video Chat Reboot, Nudists Need Not Apply

With Airtime, Silicon Valley stars pick up where Chatroulette left off
Sean Parker (left) and Shawn Fanning (right) Photograph by Ben Baker

In 2009 a Russian teenager named Andrey Ternovskiy introduced an online video service called Chatroulette, which allowed perfect strangers to meet face to face over the Web. Its cleverest feature was the “next” button—a way for users to dump their conversational partner and connect with a different, random person somewhere else around the world. For many users it became an enthralling way to crisscross the globe in search of someone interesting, attractive, or perhaps just wearing a gorilla costume. The site went viral, drawing about 1.6 million monthly users in early 2010 before ultimately fading in the face of what can only be called the “penis problem”: the impulse of otherwise rational men to celebrate a webcam chat by exposing themselves.

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