Summary:

Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker are back: The Napster co-founders will launch their social video chat startup Airtime with a press event in New York Tuesday after quietly operating in stealth mode for some months. Here’s what we already know about Airtime.

airtime

Airtime, the social video startup founded by Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, is set to launch with a press event in New York Tuesday. Airtime has been billing itself as a “live video network” that supposedly offers “the most simple, fun way to connect live to people you know, and those you should.” Others have simply said that it is a little like Chatroulette, minus the nudity and with tighter Facebook integration.

Airtime has been very good at keeping things quiet, with very little information leaking out during its closed alpha test this spring. However, here are a few things we already know ahead of Tuesday’s launch:

  • Airtime will allow video chat both with people from your social graph as well as like-minded strangers, and it allows a bit of a blind date atmosphere by offering semi-anonymous interaction. The site’s Terms of Service were recently changed, but before revealed: “Your name is not shared when you are paired with a stranger. However, your Airtime and Facebook friends will be able to directly call you and see when you are online.”
  • Airtime ties any  participation to a Facebook account and allow users to block others in order to avoid unwanted nudity.
  • The company has been conducting regularly-scheduled trials with participants of the closed alpha test every week. A closer look at the site’s HTML code reveals that people who were lucky enough to get access to the private beta were told to “come back during user test time” after a successful sign-up. At times, access was also throttled, with testers being told that “the site is currently full.”
  • Airtime was originally called Supyo. The company has raised a total of $33.5 million in funding over two rounds, with investors including Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Google Ventures and a bunch of well-connected including Mike Arrington, Ashton Kutcher, will.i.am and others.
  • Clear Channel CEO Bob Pitmann is joining the board of the company, according to All Things Digital.
  • Airtime’s artwork has been done by San Francico-based graphic design artist Shyama Golden.
  • Airtime acquired social event tracking startup Erly two weeks ago. The deal can best be described as an aqui-hire and brings three Hulu veterans, including the video service’s founding CTO Eric Feng, to the Airtime team.
  • The launch event will include appearances by a “a seemingly random group of celebs,” as the New York Post put it Monday. A-listers in attendance will include Snoop Dogg, Kristen Bell, Ed Helms, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn and Martha Stewart, according to the paper.

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