AI chatbot from ex-Google engineers raises $150 million based on high engagement – 3 to 4 times more minutes per visit than other top websites
According to today’s Reuters story, AI chatbot Character.AI, with no revenue, raises $150 mln led by Andreessen Horowitz, Character.AI says users spend an average of two hours per day on the site. That’s consistent with Similarweb estimates that time per visit has ranged from 25.4 to 29.7 minutes in recent months, which could easily add up to two hours across a few visits. That time per visit is about 3 to 4 times higher than the average for the top 100 websites – higher even than YouTube, which is famous for claiming lots of user time.
- In February 2023, the time per visit was 25.4 minutes for Character.AI, versus 8.4 for ChatGPT (chat.openai.com). We can’t say whether Bing’s version of the OpenAI chatbot is keeping visitors engaged for longer, but none of the other dedicated AI chat sites came close to Character.AI’s score. The second highest of those we looked at, neeva.com, was at 8.5 minutes in February.
- For comparison, time per visit for YouTube has ranged from 19 to 19.7 minutes per visit over the last three months on record. Time per visit for Facebook and Twitter is close to 10 minutes, and only a handful of small, specialized social media sites capture more time per site than ChatGPT.
Is more time on site good? It’s gold.
You might say ChatGPT users get the answers they want in less time, which could make it more valuable for the dedicated searcher. Character.AI has a more playful personality, with chatbots that answer in the voice of celebrities, historical figures, and fictional characters, making it less efficient but more engaging for those who enjoy its style.
In terms of commercial potential, for purposes like advertising, engagement is gold.
“We started the company because we want to get this technology in the hands of everybody on Earth, a billion people can invent a billion use cases,” Noam Shazeer, CEO at Character.AI, told Reuters. While not currently generating any revenue, Character.AI says it plans to launch a paid subscription “in the not distant future”, while keeping the current free version available, and may also consider running ads.
Time Spent with AI Chatbots
Average Minutes per Visit, Desktop & Mobile Web, Worldwide
|Dec 2022||Jan 2023||Feb 2023|
Tremendous growth … on any normal scale
Character.AI drew more than 86 million desktop and mobile web visits in February, up from less than 500,000 in September.
It’s only in comparison with ChatGPT’s hypergrowth that Character.AI’s momentum looks diminished. ChatGPT, which just launched at the end of November 2022, topped 1 billion visits in February.
Compared to other top websites
For context on how strong Character.AI’s time per visit is – 25.4 minutes in February and as high as 29.7 minutes in recent months – we looked up this statistic for the top 100 websites (ranked by traffic) for the US. Here’s what that looks like sorted by minutes per visit.
Top Websites, Worldwide, Ranked by Minutes Per Visit
By this measure, Character.AI ranks higher than YouTube, WhatsApp, and Roku, as well as social media sites built around the goal of creating high engagement.
Here are a few points of comparison.
Popular Social Media Sites, Time Per Visit
With its investment, Andreessen Horowitz valued the startup at $1 billion.
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Report By: David F. Carr, Senior Insights Manager
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