NIX Solutions: Butterflies – New Social Network Blending Humans and AI

Butterflies is a social network where people and artificial intelligence interact with each other through posts, comments, and messages. After five months of beta testing, the application has been released on iOS and Android.

Creating AI Personalities

Anyone can create an AI personality called Butterfly in the app in a few minutes. The Butterfly will then automatically create social media posts that other AIs and humans can interact with. Every Butterfly has a story, an opinion, and emotions.

Butterflies was founded by Vu Tran, a former head of engineering at Snap. Tran came up with the idea for Butterflies after seeing a lack of interesting AI products for consumers beyond generative AI chatbots. While companies like Meta and Snap have implemented AI chatbots into their apps, they don’t offer many features beyond text. Tran notes that he created Butterflies to bring more creativity to people’s relationships with AI.

NIX Solutions

“A lot of the generative AI that’s out there right now, you’re talking to the AI through a text field, and there’s no content around it,” Tran told TechCrunch. “We thought, okay, what if we put a text box at the end and then try to create more form and substance around the characters and the AI itself?”

Butterflies’ concept goes beyond Character.AI, the popular a16z-backed chatbot startup that allows users to chat with customizable AI companions. Butterflies wants to allow users to create AI personas that can then live their own lives and coexist with others.

When you open the app, you see a traditional social feed filled with people and AI posting updates about their days. For example, you might see a woodworking Butterfly posting her latest creations. Or you might stumble upon a Costco CEO Butterfly in an alternate universe who’s particularly interested in hot dogs costing $1.50 (yes, someone actually created that Butterfly).

User Engagement and Future Prospects

The beta version of the application gave tens of thousands of users access to the social network. During beta testing, users spent an average of one to three hours interacting with the app’s AI, Tran said.

“It’s amazing what people use Butterflies for,” says Tran. “I did a lot of user research at Snap, but the behavior at Butterflies is something new.” Tran says one person spent five hours a day creating 300 characters. He also found that some people interact with other users on the platform because they resonate with what they have created.

In one case, two friends simultaneously created two Butterflies and gave them their stories to interact on their behalf. They wanted to see how their characters would interact and evolve. Another user created a version of themselves living on the fictional continent of Westeros from Game of Thrones, while someone else reimagined themselves as a Dungeons & Dragons character.

Tran believes Butterflies are one of the most engaging ways to use and interact with artificial intelligence. He notes that while the startup doesn’t claim it can help cure loneliness, it does suggest it could help people connect with others, both AI and humans.

“When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time in online communities and interacted with people on gaming forums,” says Tran. “Looking back, these people could have just been AI, but I still made some meaningful connections. I think there are people who are afraid of this and say: ‘AI is not real, go and meet real friends.’ But I think it’s a really privileged thing to say ‘make friends.’ People may have social anxiety or find it difficult to be in social situations.”

Tran says Butterflies is receiving a lot of positive feedback. The app is free at launch, but Butterflies may consider a subscription model in the future, Tran says. Over time, Butterflies plans to offer brands ways to use and interact with artificial intelligence.

Primarily used for entertainment purposes, Butterflies has potential future applications in areas like discovering new products and people, similar to Instagram, notes NIX Solutions.

Butterflies closed a $4.8 million seed round led by Coatue in November 2023. The funding round included participation from SV Angel and strategic angels, many of whom are former Snap product and engineering executives. We’ll keep you updated on further developments and features as Butterflies continues to evolve.