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Web-based chatting in general became less popular as instant messaging systems were developed in the late 1990s. WBS, at the time of the Infoseek acquisition, had 2.7 million registered users.This total was more than the membership of Tripod and Geo Cities combined.

Extremely popular in the era before the Dot-com bust, WBS was at one time the largest chat, interactive and event network on the Internet.

WBS also featured other services, such as email, and allowed users to create and maintain personal web pages. It began as an "edutainment" company featuring such content as live Internet broadcasts of interviews with prominent individuals in science, technology, and pop culture, but began focusing on chat in 1993, whereupon the name was changed to the Web Chat Broadcasting System.

IRC had existed as a dedicated chatting network but was mostly used by seasoned Internet users.

In August 1996 WBS had 500,000 users and was growing by 3,000 users a day.

In February 1997, WBS reached a milestone of 1 million registered users, accruing 4,000 new registered users and 5.5 million page views every day. At this point, it was featuring 200 individual affinity groups.

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