Character.AI, a16z-Backed Chatbot Startup, Surpasses 1.7 Million Installations in Week One

AI-powered mobile apps are witnessing a surge in demand among consumers, with OpenAI’s ChatGPT app leading the way by amassing over half a million downloads in its first six days. Another notable entrant in the AI app space is Character.AI, which boasts the backing of a16z and has recently achieved remarkable success following its launch. The app proudly claims to have garnered more than 1.7 million installations within a week of hitting the market.

Character.AI stands out from other AI character generator apps available today due to its founders, Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas. Previously leading a research team at Google responsible for developing LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), a powerful language model for conversational AI experiences, the duo decided to establish their own startup based in Palo Alto.

Despite Google’s reluctance to widely deploy AI chatbots and integrate them with products like Assistant, Shazer and De Freitas believed in the transformative potential of AI in search and various other domains. In late 2021, they left Google, founding Character Technologies, now the home of Character. AI.

The mobile version of the Character.AI chatbot platform was launched globally on May 23, catering to iOS and Android users. It made a significant impact, particularly on Google Play. Within the first two days, the app witnessed over 700,000 installs on Android devices, surpassing popular entertainment apps such as Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video.

The app’s momentum continued after the initial launch, with strong download numbers in prominent Android markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, and the United States.

Character.AI

The preceding web experience significantly contributed to the heightened interest in the mobile app, driving its popularity. Prior to the app’s release, the Character.AI web app was experiencing remarkable traction, boasting 200 million monthly visits, according to Character. AI. Furthermore, users were spending an average of 29 minutes per visit, a figure that reportedly surpasses Chat GPT by 300%.

Character.AI emphasizes that users quickly become highly engaged with the platform after their initial use. The company recently observed that once users send their first message to a character, their engagement rates skyrocket to an average of over 2 hours spent on the platform. Additionally, the user base has already created more than 10 million custom AI characters, highlighting the app’s appeal and versatility.

Despite being a relatively small team of just 30 individuals, Character.AI has been diligently working on several significant developments. They recently launched c.ai+, a premium service that offers benefits similar to ChatGPT Plus, including faster response times, access during peak usage periods, and early access to new features.

The startup also announced a strategic partnership with Google Cloud, leveraging Google Cloud’s Tensor Processor Units to expedite the training and inference of their large language models (LLMs) with enhanced efficiency.

Character.AI’s reported download figures appear to be reliable, supported by third-party app intelligence provider data.ai. When comparing Character. Ai’s numbers with their own estimates, data.ai confirmed that the app had even higher download figures. Although third-party metrics may currently lack precision due to the apps’ novelty, these independent figures validate the initial consumer demand for Character. AI.

However, while Chat GPT has maintained its popularity since its launch, consistently ranking as the third most popular free app in the U.S., Character.AI’s demand seems to have experienced a slight decline post-launch. At the time of writing, the iOS app ranks at No. 13 in the U.S. App Store’s Entertainment category. Initially, it reached No. 4 overall for the first two days on U.S. iOS but has since dropped to No. 89 overall. On U.S. Android, it achieved the No. 5 position on May 27 but has fallen to No. 27 as per data. Ai’s information.

When asked about Character.AI’s marketing strategy and whether it invested a significant portion of its funding in generating initial installs, the company denied having a dedicated marketing budget at the app’s launch. According to the startup, 99% of the downloads were organic, indicating that the app’s initial success was primarily driven by word-of-mouth and user interest.

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