The Boy Behind Chat Roulette

I recently posted a story about the Internet insanity that is Chat Roulette. The good old New York Times, always a little late to the party, actually does a nice follow up by interviewing the man behind the madness:

…The lingering mystery, though, was who was behind the site. The question was answered on Saturday when Andrey Ternovskiy responded to the questions we sent to an e-mail address on Chatroulette. Mr. Ternovskiy said he was a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow.

“I was not sure whether I should tell the world who I am mainly because of the fact that I am under age. Now I think that it would be better to reveal myself,” Mr. Ternovskiy wrote.

I asked Mr. Ternovskiy about the origin of the idea for ChatRoulette, how he manages the technical challenges of running the site, whether he viewed it as a business, and about the way some people were using Chatroulette in, as he put it, “some not very nice ways.” Here are his e-mailed responses, slightly edited and condensed:

I created this project for fun. Initially, I had no business goals with it. I created this project recently. I was and still am a teenager myself, that is why I had a certain feeling of what other teenagers would want to see on the Internet. I myself enjoyed talking to friends with Skype using a microphone and webcam. But we got tired of talking to each other eventually. So I decided to create a little site for me and my friends where we could connect randomly with other people.

It wasn’t so easy to create it for me, but I have been coding since 11 (thanks to my father who introduced me to the Internet early – most of my knowledge comes from it).

I didn’t advertise my site or post it anywhere, but somehow, people started to talk to each other about the site. And the word started to spread. That’s how the simultaneous user count grew from 10 to 50, then from 50 to 100 and so on. Each time the user count grew, I had to rewrite my code completely, because my software and hardware couldn’t handle it all. I never thought that handling the heavy user load would be the most difficult part of my project…

…What is currently stopping me from adding other features which have been suggested by many and have been in my mind is that I am not even sure what Chatroulette is now.

Everyone finds his own way of using the site. Some think it is a game, others think it is a whole unknown world, others think it is a dating service.

I think it’s cool that such a simple concept can be useful for so many people. Although some people are using the site in not very nice ways – I am really against it. Others do really unbelievable things I could never think of. They make up songs about strangers and sing to them, draw them, listen to music, broadcast them their own music. Two groups of teenagers can party together. That’s just great in my opinion. I am glad that I made this project and it is a pleasure for me to work on it…


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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5 Comments on "The Boy Behind Chat Roulette"

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