Last week, our very own Dan Macsai was speculating about how to monetize the slightly-scary, balls-out phenomenon that is Chat Roulette (yes, a week before Jon Stewart even discovered the site) and now it seems someone is already using it for a cunning marketing wheeze. The prize is 250 quid's-worth of French Connection clothes (that's around 375 of your shiny green dollars) to whichever bloke is lucky enough to actually have a proper conversation with a real-life woman that doesn't include the words "panties," "hard," and "Grunt." Proof of contact is necessary, so wannabe lotharios will have to paste evidence of their chat into the comments section below.
"Alright, now I'm outside." The evasive, confined lifestyle isn't what you'd expect from Ternovskiy.
Only months earlier, the 18-year-old had entertained drooling interest from the likes of Digital Sky Technologies and Fred Wilson, turning down million-dollar offers for his popular video-chatting service. Nearly every major media outlet wrote about Chatroulette. But six months later, the fickle followers of Web fads have collectively hit the "next" button.
Since peaking in usership in the spring and early summer, Chatroulette has been hemorrhaging traffic, with visits plummeting close to 60% in the US, according to Quantcast.
After a brief down period in late August, the site relaunched with improved saftey features, and traffic appears to have bottomed out.
Ternovskiy now shares a one-bedroom apartment with two engineers that doubles as Chatroulette's headquarters.
They all sleep and work there—that's why he's whispering and slipping outside to answer his phone.The million-dollar offers have dried up, and critics have labeled the service a passing craze.Others have blamed the site's decline on its pornographic content—it's estimated one in every eight chats yielded R-rated material.Ternovskiy still believes he can reclaim Chatroulette's prominence and VC interest.To do so, he's worked tirelessly to sanitize its image."Since we've implemented the content-control system, the site has become cleaner, and more people are starting to use it," the founder tells traffic did begin to rise in October and November.