Meet Character.AI, a revolutionary AI chatbot startup backed by a16z, that's making waves with a staggering 1.7 million installs within its first week of launch! As AI-driven mobile apps are taking the world by storm, the new kid on the block has outpaced market veteran OpenAI's ChatGPT app, which saw half a million downloads in the same time span.
Fueled by an impressive $150 million in Series A funding, Character.AI is valued at a cool $1 billion. They've changed the game by providing customizable AI companions with distinctive personalities, and even empowering users to craft their own characters.
The brainchild of Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas, the Palo Alto-based startup has quite a story. Previously leading Google's research team that developed LaMDA, a powerful conversational AI model, the founders faced a roadblock in expanding AI chatbot applications. Disenchanted by Google's reluctance to integrate AI chatbots widely, the duo took the plunge and left Google in late 2021 to establish Character Technologies, the parent of Character.AI.
Their innovative AI chatbot platform was launched globally for iOS and Android users on May 23, and the response has been nothing short of phenomenal. In the first 48 hours alone, the app bagged over 700,000 Android installs, outstripping entertainment giants Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video. A surge in downloads from major Android markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, and the U.S. has bolstered its success.
But wait, there's more! The widespread appeal of the Character.AI web app, which boasted 200 million monthly visits and an average user engagement time of 29 minutes, helped create a buzz around the mobile app. Remarkably, users, once they send their first message, spend more than 2 hours on the platform on average. The cherry on top? Over 10 million custom AI characters have been created by users to date.
Despite their small team size of 30, Character.AI has been abuzz with activity, launching its premium service, c.ai+, offering benefits similar to ChatGPT Plus, and announcing a strategic alliance with Google Cloud to build and train their AI models using Google's Tensor Processor Units.
As for their download figures, there's no exaggeration in their success. An independent comparison by data.ai validated the numbers, showing even higher download rates. However, while ChatGPT has remained steady in popularity, Character.AI's demand seems to have tapered off slightly post-launch. The startup is firm in its stance that marketing spend was not a key factor in its initial success, claiming a mere 1% of downloads were non-organic.