The CEO of hot live-streaming smartphone app Meerkat said he wasn’t concerned that Twitter has cut Meerkat users off from reaching the social networking giant’s audience.
Ben Rubin was the toast of the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, this past weekend. More than 100,000 users have downloaded Meerkat since it launched just two weeks ago.
Here’s how it works:
- Download the app and press “stream” to start taking a video.
- Meerkat syncs with your Twitter account and automatically pushes out a link to your livestream in the form of a tweet, or you can schedule your streams for later on.
- Your Twitter followers who are on Meerkat will also get a notification from Meerkat. (But anyone with the link to your video can watch what you’ve posted.)
- People can respond or comment on your video in the form of Twitter replies.
You might have noticed how reliant Meerkat seems to be on Twitter. That’s because Meerkat is built on top of Twitter using Twitter’s API, so you’re automatically connected to the people you follow on Twitter. Until Saturday, when Twitter blocked access for Meerket users to its “social graph”.
Saturday was also the day Twitter officially announced it had acquired Periscope – a livestreaming app.
Now, the general consensus among the “information is free” crowd is if Twitter thinks it has a better product, it shouldn’t be worried about Meerkat accessing its “social graph”. In other words, let the users decide which app to plump for.
But to his great credit (and possibly because he thinks there’s still a chance Twitter might play nice), Rubin, 27, last night thanked Twitter for the chance to get a leg-up.
“We would not be sitting here if it wasn’t for Twitter,” Rubin said during a Yahoo Tech event at SXSW. “We need to be grateful for that.”
Rubin said it was “Twitter’s house” and Meerkat has to be “the best guests we can be”, but whether it can survive without access to a huge social media network like Twitter is at the very least, a huge challenge.
Of course, these days social networking is not a two-horse game. Snapchat, Facebook and LinkedIn offer at least as much potential exposure as Twitter. But Twitter is the go-to choice for media aficionados and Rubin himself says it has so far provided the best use of Meerkat he’s seen.
“It was like four reporters and they said we’re going down to the Ferguson protests, and we’re going to do an impromptu Meerkat from multiple angles,” Rubin told Business Insider. “I saw it only after the fact but this is what we came here to do, to make an impact.”
At the Yahoo event, Rubin, after thanking Twitter for its help launching Meerkat, began assuring its users that it would remain relevant.
According to CNET, the company has “already started to move beyond its leaning on Twitter, though (Rubin) didn’t go into specifics”.