Character.AI, the a16z-backed AI chatbot startup from ex-Google AI researchers, is out today with a new feature for its subscribers. The chatbot platform, which offers customizable AI companions with distinct personalities and tools to make your own, is now offering a group chat experience where users and their friends can chat with multiple AI characters at once.
The Character Group Chat feature, as it’s called, allows users to create a group chat with their favorite AI characters only or it can feature a mix of both humans and AI companions, the company says. The idea is that users will be able to create social connections with friends, or share ideas and collaborate in real-time, as in any other group chat experience, but with their AI companions now in the mix.
The company suggests users could try out having AI scientists and thinkers chat together, like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, and Stephen Hawking, for example, or create a group chat with mythological gods like Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon.
For more practical use cases, you might start a group chat with friends around a topic or theme — like travel, gaming, book clubs, or role-playing — then invite an AI companion to help facilitate and augment those conversations.
The idea of adding AI chatbots into a group chat is not unique to Character.AI. Snapchat’s My AI chatbot can be added into group chats with the command @myai, while Meta recently introduced the ability to call up a host of new AI-powered bots across its apps, including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram’s DMs, including those that are based on celebrities like Mr. Beast, Paris Hilton, Tom Brady, Charli D’Amelio, Snoop Dog, and others. The latter announcement, made at Meta’s Connect conference in late September, was a potential threat to Character.AI which raised a whopping $150 million in Series A funding earlier this year for its concepts around AI companions.
However, Character.AI’s new group chat experience won’t be offered for free. Instead, the feature is first being made available to the c.ai+ subscribers in order to gain feedback and make improvements. C.ai+ is the startup’s $9.99 per month subscription plan that offers the ability to skip waiting rooms and access to faster message generation as well as an exclusive community channel for feedback and support, among other things. The company says it will later open up to feature to the general public.
At launch, Character Group Chat is also only available on the Character.AI mobile app on iOS and Android but will later roll out to the web.
The company’s app initially topped half a million installs in its first six days and is said to be catching up with ChatGPT in the U.S. Third-party data from market intelligence provider data.ai indicates the app has close to 30 million monthly active users globally, and around 7 million in the U.S. The firm also estimates its lifetime gross in-app purchase revenue is $1.3 million, but c.ai+ is sold on the web so this is not a comprehensive look at its overall revenue.