Entrepreneur Naval Ravikant launches voice-centric social media app AirChat

By Thomson Reuters Apr 15, 2024 | 1:33 PM

By Yuvraj Malik

(Reuters) – Venture capitalist Naval Ravikant has rolled out a social media app centered around communicating through voice notes, looking to challenge the dominance of text-based platforms such as Elon Musk-owned X and Meta Platforms’ Threads.

AirChat has seen thousands of downloads across iOS and Android since its Friday launch and sparked a surge of requests on online platforms for access to the app that is currently invite-only.

Founded by Ravikant and former Tinder product chief Brian Norgard, the app is banking on voice interactions to change the way people connect online despite the lackluster growth of similar platforms such as pandemic-era darling Clubhouse.

AirChat was the 23rd-most popular social media app in the U.S. on Apple’s App Store as of Monday, according to market research firm SensorTower.

It has a design that mirrors most social media platforms and allows users to post, scroll through a feed, and message other users privately, in the form of audio recordings.

The voice notes play automatically and can be paused. The app also generates transcripts of the notes simultaneously.

Ravikant, who has made seed investments in companies including Uber Technologies, argues that voice is a more intimate medium for conversation than text.

“Humans are all meant to get along with other humans, it just requires the natural voice,” he posted on AirChat.

The app has seen positive reception from social media users.

“The flexibility in transforming from one medium to another opens interesting new doors for capturing and sharing ideas online,” one user posted on X. Others said they found the voice-to-text transcription to be accurate in initial tests.

Still, other new social media startups have struggled to draw significant user bases.

Mastodon had 1.5 million monthly active users and Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky amassed 2 million, according to a report published by MIT Technology Review in January.

A previous version of AirChat was released last year.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)