What the Hell Is Meerkat?
Meerkat, a new live-streaming video service has been all over the news — er, at least our world’s news due to its potential impact. What you probably know about the app so far is that it primarily operates through Twitter (where it’s taken the platform by storm) and focuses on user-generated content. Meerkat also has some important applications for creators, as major publishers have already used the service to live-stream their video content the masses (yes, Meerkat’s user base can already be defined as “the masses”).
Before buying blindly into all the hype (because lots of hype doesn’t necessarily guarantee longevity), let’s take a look at what Meerkat actually is, where it comes from, and where it might be heading.
Who created it?
Itai Danino, the chief technical officer of startup video-streaming company, Life On Air Inc., created Meerkat originally as a side project for the company (which was mainly focusing on an app called Air). Life On Air Inc. is a portfolio company for Israeli venture firm Aleph. It’s led by co-founder and CEO Ben Rubin.
When did it launch?
Meerkat launched on Friday, February 27. It became more than a side project starting March 3, by which time it had picked up serious traction and the startup decided to put its entire, 10-person team to work on the project.
The app grew from Life On Air’s original project Yevvo, a live-streaming platform aimed in part to help people keep in touch with friends and family in other parts of the world and in part at well-known video creators/celebs wanting to create live content to easily share with their fans. Side project Meerkat came from the company deciding to focus more on Yevvo’s second use.
What exactly is Meerkat, and how does it work?
Meerkat is a live-streaming video app that’s designed specifically to work on Twitter. Once you start a streaming broadcast on it, it will notify your Meerkat-using Twitter followers so they can watch your video live and interact with it through Twitter comments. Like Snapchat, your Meerkat video will disappear once you’re done streaming it…or you can simply save it to your smartphone.
How many people are on Meerkat?
The company isn’t naming exact numbers now, but Ryan Cooley, a member of the Meerkat team, hinted in a Wall Street Journal interview that the “engagement rate is incredible.” Media outlets have reported that 15,000 users have already signed up for the service (a figure Rubin had provided a few days ago). Also according to WSJ, Apple’s data service Topsy reported that Twitter mentions of #Meerkat increased from 500 to nearly 4,000 between February 27 and March 3, when the whole Life On Air team started focusing on the app.
How has Meerkat been used so far?
One of the biggest videos so far on the app came from Yahoo News. Yahoo interviewed Senator John Thune over Meerkat, which meant that people watching could interact by asking the senator their own questions. Putting people in the US directly in touch with one of their senators is a pretty important use of the app and points to lots of possibilities.
What might Twitter do about the new livestreaming app?
Twitter has a couple of options, here. The company launched its own video player in January, so it might go the way of focusing on its own player’s improvement and livestreaming capabilities. On the other hand, the social app could go ahead and acquire Meerkat, since it’s already proved its popularity on Twitter.
On March 2, Twitter actually stopped allowing Meerkat users to tweet, but it restored the ability later that day. Rubin explained the initial block as an automatic reaction from Twitter (not them feeling the threat of a fast-growing, new startup), and that Twitter has been very helpful in making the app work with its service, as reported by TechCrunch. Obviously, the new app has shown its value to Twitter in a very short time span.
Tags: air, aleph, israeli startups, life on air, life on air inc., live streaming, meerkat, topsy, twitter, Twitter Video, Yahoo News, Yahoo!, Yevvo