At 17, Moscow student Andrey Ternovskiy has the cachet that most startup CEOs chase for decades: mainstream-press coverage. Meetings with Google and Skype. Hundreds of emails from Silicon Valley VC firms. And it’s all thanks to a little site called Chatroulette–created in two days and funded partly by $10,000 from Ternovskiy’s parents–which connects random users via Webcam, and lets them hit “next” to switch partners at will. Since its November 2009 launch, Ternovskiy’s platform has inspired a profusion of Internet memes (Catroulette, ChatrouLOLz); been lampooned on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart; and amassed more than 1.5 million users per day, including Ben Folds, who logs on during concerts to improvise songs about his chatting partners.
I don’t know, Ternovskiy says of the way he thinks. I quickly get the scheme of how it should work in my head. I just write out the remaining details, and that’s all the work. It’s probably weird.–The New Yorker (5/17/10)