Meerkat's Disappearing Videos Ride the Snapchat Wave
Is Meerkat, an app for livestreaming videos on Twitter, the next Snapchat?
Less than two weeks after debuting, Meerkat has amassed 100,000 users by letting them share live videos with their Twitter followers. Viewers can comment on broadcasts during streams, but they can't replay or save the video, giving it a similar ephemeral vibe as Snapchat's disappearing photos (the app's icon even resembles Snapchat, with an image of the cute African carnivore instead of a smiling ghost).
Dave Morin, co-founder and CEO of social-app Path, went live at the Apple Watch event this week, attracting a virtual audience of 818. Churches have started to use Meerkat to broadcast services. Pro-skater Tony Hawk, who has 3.86 million Twitter followers, livestreamed a video of himself skateboarding in San Diego over the weekend.
"We call it 'spontaneous togetherness,'" Ben Rubin, Meerkat's CEO, said in an interview. "It sounds like it's the cheesiest thing you've heard in your life."Cheesy or not, Meerkat's in-the-moment streaming has helped to propel it into the top 100 downloads among social apps in the U.S., according to App Annie, which compiles data on mobile apps. On Product Hunt, Silicon Valley's new buzz-o-meter, Meerkat shot up to No. 1 on the day it was introduced.
The popularity of ephemeral apps is already attracting big money. Snapchat, which turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013, just got an investment from Alibaba at a valuation of $15 billion, Bloomberg News reported.
Twitter, which bought video-clip startup Vine in 2012, isn't sitting still either. The San Francisco company recently acquired Periscope, another application that streams live video, even though it hasn't released a product yet.
Meerkat, Snapchat, TigerText and other startups are tapping into a growing desire by Web users who want to share moments without worrying whether a faux pas or embarrassing image will live forever on the Internet, says Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com, provider of online reputation-management services.
"You don't want to be held responsible for something that was funny for two seconds," Fertik said. "We don't necessarily want one moment of humanity to define us in 10 years."