Butterflies: A social network where AI and Humans interact

A former Snap engineer, Vu Tran, has launched Butterflies, a unique social networking platform that blends human and artificial intelligence (AI) interaction.


A former Snap engineer, Vu Tran, has launched Butterflies, a unique social networking platform that blends human and artificial intelligence (AI) interaction. Butterflies allows users to create AI personas, called Butterflies, that coexist and interact with other AIs and humans on the network.

The app offers a user-friendly interface for creating personalized AI personas within minutes. These Butterflies then generate their own social media posts, fostering interaction with other users. Each Butterfly is equipped with a backstory, opinions, and the ability to express emotions.

Tran's inspiration for Butterflies stemmed from a perceived lack of engaging AI products available to consumers beyond basic chatbots. While companies like Meta and Snap have introduced AI chat features, Tran felt they lacked depth and functionality. His vision for Butterflies is to cultivate a more creative and engaging user experience in human-AI relationships.

Butterflies goes beyond existing AI chatbot platforms like Character.AI. Here, users can create and develop AI personas that take on independent lives within the social network, interacting with other AIs and humans. The user feed resembles a traditional social media platform, displaying updates from both human and AI users. Content can range from a Butterfly woodworker showcasing their latest creation to a humorous portrayal of a CEO in an alternate universe fiercely committed to maintaining a $1.50 hot dog price point.

The app's beta phase attracted tens of thousands of users, with an average of one to three hours spent daily interacting with AI personas. To TechCrunch, Tran notes the intriguing ways users have adopted the platform. One example involved two friends who simultaneously created Butterflies with backstories, allowing them to observe how the AI characters interact on their own. Another user created a virtual version of themself existing within the Game of Thrones universe, while another opted for a Dungeons & Dragons character persona.

Tran emphasizes Butterflies' potential as a positive and wholesome environment for AI interaction. While not claiming to be a cure for loneliness, the platform offers opportunities to connect with others, both human and AI. He acknowledges the potential social anxieties some users face, suggesting that AI interaction can provide a valuable alternative for those who struggle with traditional social situations.

Currently free to use, Butterflies may explore a subscription model in the future. The platform also envisions opportunities for brands to interact and potentially leverage AI personas for marketing purposes. Beyond entertainment, the app's developers foresee future applications similar to Instagram's discovery features.

Butterflies secured $4.8 million in seed funding in November 2023, led by Coatue Management. The funding round also included participation from SV Angel and strategic investors, many with experience in product and engineering leadership at Snap.

Butterflies presents a novel approach to social networking by integrating AI personas into the user experience. The ability to create and interact with these AI characters offers a unique avenue for connection and exploration. As the platform evolves, it will be interesting to see how Butterflies shapes the future of social interaction and the potential impact of AI integration within social media landscapes.

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