Founder Andrey Ternovskiy's drastic decision to ax anonymity backfires on Chatroulette's popular video chat model, giving a bump to ChatRandom's user-friendly approach
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – The world of startups is littered with good intentions gone wrong. Far too many wonderstruck entrepreneurs alter, eliminate or complicate service features their fans love — only to crash and burn.
Take Chatroulette's Andrey Ternovskiy, for example. In 2009, he launched his video chat site to the world, and the fanbase exploded to 1+ million users within a few months. The site steadily maintained its #1 stronghold among competing video networking sites, including ChatRandom (http://chatrandom.com), which ranks in the top 3, and Airtime, which joined the random chat ring this past summer. Given that Airtime never gained any traction as a social networking site because its users cannot remain anonymous, it came as a shock to loyal fans when Chatroulette — the pioneer of anonymous social networking sites — announced multiple changes that have essentially eliminated user anonymity.
"Prior to this change, users could simply go to Chatroulette, hit start and connect with others using their webcam just like on ChatRandom," says Allen Fox, co-founder of ChatRandom, today's leading alternative to Chatroulette. "Now the site is requiring users to log in and create an account, which kills the whole anonymous conversation feel the site had so carefully cultivated."
"In addition," Fox continues, "Chatroulette announced that you must have an exclusive invite code to sign up — yet another suicidal mistake. Finally, it now charges your credit card one cent to verify your identity. This totally went against what made Chatroulette huge in the first place — anonymous video chat! All in all, it went from being totally anonymous to the complete opposite, contradicting its proven video chat model."
Since the abrupt implementation of Chatroulette's new requirements, the site's users are defecting in droves — a telltale sign that the new rules are not what video chat fans want. Undermining the site's fundamental purpose as an anonymous social networking site, the video chat leader has violated one of commerce's most important rules: Don't tick off the customer.
"Stats change by the hour, but I've noticed two consistent trends — Chatroulette numbers have crashed, and ChatRandom numbers have soared," Fox adds. "For example, at a certain time of day, Chatroulette used to have approximately 20,000 users on the site and now the average is about 5,000 at this same time. What's more, since Chatroulette rolled out these requirements, we've gone from over 200,000 to 350,000 daily users."
Perhaps even more telling, people are angry over the changes. They're talking (http://forum.chatroulette.com/forums/181213-1-ideas-suggestions-and-complaints/suggestions/3418605-remove-the-payment-), and, more important, they're doing something about it by moving elsewhere, as explained by one ChatRandom newcomer.
"I used to use Chatroulette, but now they make you sign in and verify with PayPal, which sucks," says Mike from Texas. "Thank you for having such a cool site."
ChatRandom doesn't endorse extreme, unnecessary user verification measures. Through smarter spam controls and by hiring real people to monitor and shut down illegal or under-age activity, ChatRandom works to ensure user safety and security while delivering an undeniably easy, anonymous social-networking experience.
About ChatRandom (http://ChatRandom.com)
Founded in early 2011, ChatRandom is the only free webcam-based chat site of its kind. An inspired Chatroulette alternative, ChatRandom delivers a safer, simpler platform for random video chatting with strangers in a multi-dimensional format. Users must be 18+, and the site upholds a rigorous user terms of service. Users video chat worry-free and can focus on meeting new people. ChatRandom boasts over 350,000 daily users, 10+ million monthly users and over 30 billion connections — and counting.