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Naval Ravikant's Airchat is a social app built around talk, not text | TechCrunch

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses Airchat, a new social media app that focuses on audio-based communication rather than text-based. The app allows users to post and reply to audio messages, which are then transcribed. The article covers the app's features, the team behind it, and their vision for the platform.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Overview of Airchat

1. What is Airchat?

  • Airchat is a new social media app that encourages users to "just talk" by posting and replying to audio messages.
  • The app was rebuilt and relaunched by a team led by AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and former Tinder product executive Brian Norgard.
  • Airchat is currently invite-only and is already ranked #27 in social networking on Apple's App Store.

2. How does Airchat work?

  • In Airchat, users can follow other users, scroll through a feed of posts, and reply to, like, and share those posts.
  • The posts and replies are audio recordings, which the app then transcribes.
  • Users can pause the audio and read the text, and they can also share photos and videos.
  • The app defaults to 2x audio playback, but users can reset the speed to 1x.

3. What is the team's vision for Airchat?

  • The team believes that voice communication can foster better human connection and understanding compared to text-based social media.
  • Ravikant argues that "Humans are all meant to get along with other humans, it just requires the natural voice," and that online text-only media has given us a "delusion that people can't get along."
  • Norgard says the asynchronous, threaded posts in Airchat remove the "stage fright barrier" to participating, as users can take multiple passes at composing a message.

4. What is the target audience for Airchat?

  • According to the team, most of the people using Airchat today are "very introverted and shy."
  • The asynchronous, threaded nature of the app is designed to appeal to these users, who may be more comfortable participating in audio-based discussions.

[02] Comparison to Other Voice-Based Social Apps

1. How does Airchat differ from other voice-based social apps?

  • Airchat's asynchronous, threaded posts make for a different experience than the live chat rooms that briefly flourished on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.
  • The team argues that the asynchronous format removes the "stage fright barrier" to participating, as users can take multiple passes at composing a message.

2. What are the potential challenges with translating text-based interactions to audio?

  • The author is curious to see how deadpan jokes and "shitposting" translate (or don't) into audio.
  • The author also struggles with the speed of the audio playback, finding the default 2x speed to sound unnatural, particularly for fostering human connection.

[03] Monetization and Content Moderation

1. What is the team's approach to monetization?

  • Ravikant says there is "no monetization pressure on the company whatsoever" and that they will "run this thing on a shoestring if we have to."
  • He describes himself as "not the sole investor" but "a big investor" in the company.

2. How does the team address content moderation?

  • Ravikant says the feed is powered by "some complex rules around hiding spam and trolls and people that you or they may not want to hear from."
  • However, he did not provide details on the specific content moderation features in the app.
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