Some new features for Airtime

We’ve always intended for Airtime to be many things, but above all, we set out to build the best platform for video conversation. Today we are beginning the testing process with a limited public release of a number of new features that further this goal.

The first feature we’re beta testing is video posts. With the click of a button, you can record and post a video using your webcam to start a public video conversation. Grab the link to your video post and share it to Facebook or Twitter or via email and anyone can respond on Airtime with their own video. The original post and all subsequent video replies can be viewed in one screen.

Recording a video yourself isn’t the only way to start a video conversation, though. One of the most popular activities on the web is sending or posting a link to an amusing YouTube video. But until now, it’s been difficult to see people’s responses to the videos, and those are often as entertaining as the original video. On Airtime, you can search for and post a YouTube video to start a video conversation, then wait for your friends’ video replies to roll in.

When you log in to Airtime now, you’ll find the most recent posts from your friends or replies to posts on the homepage along the lefthand side. You can browse through your friends’ video conversations and jump in on any that interest you.

Most modern communication platforms seem to enable both public and private conversation. From the beginning we’ve enabled private video conversation, allowing you to video chat with any of your friends (Airtime or Facebook) by finding them in the buddy list on the right. Today we’ve updated the buddy list in a few ways to make it more useful. 

First, clicking on any person in your buddy list will now display your complete call, video message, and text message history with that person, sorted chronologically. You can replay any video messages that were sent to you from that communications log.

Second we’ve separated the buddy list into three groups, in descending order of real-time accessibility, from top to bottom. The top section, Available, list those people logged into Airtime at that moment. They’re the most likely to be reachable for a direct call at that moment. The second group, Idle, are those who are listed as online on Facebook. You can call them and we’ll let them know you’re calling with a Facebook message. Those who aren’t online on Airtime or Facebook are listed at the bottom.

Lastly, the Buddy List has been optimized to be faster. Searching for a specific contact’s name now returns results much more quickly than before.

We’ll be testing and making improvements to this new functionality in the coming weeks, so if you get a chance to use these features, please do not hesitate to send your feedback/bug requests/etc. We’re eager to hear from you!

The Airtime Team

How Airtime Safety Works

Thanks to all the users who tried out Airtime yesterday. Even though we anticipated people using the service in a variety of creative ways, we were still amazed by some of the stories you all shared with us and the interesting connections people have made on Airtime. Our goal is to create serendipity for our users and we hope you’ll all continue to say hello to one another in fun, unique, interesting, imaginative, but always safe ways.

User safety at Airtime is a top priority for us and something we’re proud to be investing in — our internal safety group is actually the largest team at the company. There have been some questions about what Airtime does to ensure user safety on the service, and we wanted to take a moment to share our process.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a direct call and a matched call. We refer to any video chat between two Facebook or Airtime friends as a direct call. We do not monitor direct calls on Airtime, allowing our users to always have private conversations with their friends.

Matched calls refer to video chats on Airtime between people who aren’t Facebook or Airtime friends already. Since it’s likely the two people in a matched call don’t know each other, we take periodic screenshots during the video chat to monitor for any inappropriate conduct. Screenshots are taken for all matched calls and we only take screen captures, not video or audio recordings, as part of our safety measures.

These screenshots are then run through an automated, algorithmic review process which utilizes a variety of custom technologies including face detection and luminosity detection. We store these screenshots indefinitely to detect patterns in abuse and train our algorithmic systems. Screenshots that are flagged as problematic by our systems are first anonymized and reviewed by our team of trained safety professionals. Any misbehavior on the part of a user in a match will lead to their account being locked immediately. One strike and you’re out. It’s a strict policy, because of how seriously we take user safety.

Another key way we ensure safety is by tying people’s behavior to an identity. In a matched call, we initially keep the name of each person anonymous. If, during the video chat, one side requests to add the other person to their Airtime friend list and the other person accepts that request, then the names of each person are revealed to the other. But even when your name is anonymized, your account on Airtime is still tied to your Facebook account and identity and so you’re always accountable for your behavior.

If you have any further questions about our safety policies, refer to our FAQ. After one day, we’re happy that we’ve rarely had to enforce any of our policies despite a high volume of matched calls, and some of those were from curious users trying to test our safety systems in amusing ways. If you believe your account was locked by mistake, please contact us and we’ll take a look.

Hello World!

Today we’re excited to launch Airtime, the first live video network. Over the last year, we’ve been hard at work designing and building the first version of Airtime which we are proud to unveil today. Airtime is not just a product, it’s a network service designed to create live shared experiences online, between two sets of people: those that you
know and those who you want to know.

Airtime is the most efficient, easy to use, browser-based video chat service between friends using their existing Facebook networks. The service allows you to share live experiences through content, and expand beyond your social graph to discover new people through similar interests in an environment that is collaborative, fun and safe.

Airtime is now available at No download is required. All you need is a Facebook account and a webcam.

Today is just the beginning.  We’re happy to say hello.

- The Airtime Team

Welcome, Bob!

We’re pleased to announce that Bob Pittman, legendary entrepreneur and media rock star, is joining our board. In addition to founding MTV, Bob helped build and has run some of the world’s most admired companies including Time Warner and Clear Channel, where he now serves as CEO.  Welcome, Bob!

Some New Additions

We are counting down the days until June 5th when we’ll unveil the first version of Airtime. In the meantime, we have exciting news to share about the people behind it.

We recently closed a round of financing led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and joined by other great partners, including existing and new investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Google Ventures, and Social + Capital. Bing Gordon from KPCB will join Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning on the Airtime board.

We are also thrilled to announce the acquisition of Erly, a fellow KPCB company founded last year by product and engineering leaders from Hulu. Erly brings demonstrated consumer products expertise, video experience, and technical leadership to Airtime, and we couldn’t be more proud to welcome the newest members of our family.

To become one of Airtime’s first users when we launch, sign up today. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We look forward to saying hello on June 5th.

We look forward to saying hello on June 5th. Sign up to be first in line.

We look forward to saying hello on June 5th. Sign up to be first in line.