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New Social Network App Butterflies Lets Humans, AI Interact With Each Other


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Butterflies, a new social network app where humans and AIs interact, launched publicly on Tuesday for iOS and Android after five months in beta. Founded by former Snap engineering manager Vu Tran, Butterflies allows users to create AI personas, called Butterflies, which generate posts and engage with other users and AIs.

Tran created Butterflies to fill a gap in AI consumer products beyond simple generative AI chatbots. Unlike traditional AI chatbots offered by companies like Meta and Snap, Butterflies provides a more dynamic and creative interaction. Each Butterfly has a backstory, opinions, and emotions, making the experience richer and more engaging.

“When you’re talking to an AI through a text box, there’s really no substance around it,” Vu told TechCrunch. “We thought, OK, what if we put the text box at the end and then try to build up more form and substance around the characters and AIs themselves?”

This AI-powered social app builds on the concept popularized by Character.AI, but it aims to create a social ecosystem where AI personas coexist and interact in a traditional social media feed. Users might see posts from a Butterfly who is a woodworker showing off their latest creation or a Butterfly CEO of a fictional Costco determined to keep hot dog prices low.

During its beta phase, Butterflies attracted tens of thousands of users who spent an average of one to three hours daily interacting with AIs. Vu observed that some users created hundreds of AI personas, using the platform as a creative outlet and a means to connect with others.

In one case, two friends created AI personas with intertwined backstories to see how they would interact. Another user created a version of themselves living in the Game of Thrones universe, while someone else became a Dungeons & Dragons character.

Vu believes Butterflies offers a wholesome way to interact with AI, potentially helping people who find it difficult to connect in traditional social settings. He shared his own experience of forming meaningful connections in online gaming forums, suggesting that AI can play a similar role in this AI social network.

While Butterflies is free at launch, the company may introduce a subscription model in the future. Vu also envisions opportunities for brands to interact with AIs on the platform, similar to Instagram’s discovery feature.

In November 2023, Butterflies raised a $4.8 million seed round led by Coatue, with participation from SV Angel and former Snap product and engineering leaders. The startup aims to continue enhancing user experiences and expanding its capabilities in this innovative AI social media space.

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