The live stream war has begun. It’s a classic example of David vs. Goliath, that is if David were backed by some of the largest VCs and angel investors in Silicon Valley. Now it’s getting hard to tell who’s David and who’s the Goliath.
Here’s what you should know: Two companies are going head to head with their live streaming video apps, both of which integrate with your Twitter stream. The apps allow you to broadcast yourself (your Twitter handle) as a live streaming public video channel. Other Twitter users can tune in, listen, watch, and comment with text. These live streams can be “liked” or “retweeted” similar to any other tweets that show up in your stream.
Meerkat was developed in close to 8 weeks, built tons of hype and launched quickly, ultimately securing FMA (first-mover advantage). Whether that even means anything anymore can be argued. The company has gained investment from a who’s who list of celebs, angels, and VCs. As of today, they’ve announced that an additional $14m in funding has been secured. The impressive list is as follows:
- Sound Ventures (Ashton Kutcher’s VC fund)
- Musician and actor Jared Leto
- Vayner/RSE (Gary Vaynerchuck’s VC fund)
- Universal Music Group
- Broadway Video Ventures (the VC fund of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels’ media company)
- William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency
- CAA Ventures, the investment arm of talent agency CAA
- UTA, a Beverly Hills talent agency
- Chad Hurley (a cofounder of YouTube)
- David Tisch
- Raine Ventures
- Comcast Ventures
- Slow Ventures
Meerkat started as a side project for Life On Air, Inc., a team that had been focused on a completely separate project called Air. The team launched their wild side project, Meerkat and within 3 days had found 15,000 people had started using the service. Shortly thereafter, they began to focus solely on Meerkat and have been gaining momentum ever since. They’ve been growing their user base at 30 percent per day, damn impressive.
Personal Experience: This app is extremely fun. It’s super easy to use, with a pretty intuitive interface. It’s something special hearing someone on screen respond directly to your comments in real-time. I love the fact that you can view other viewers’ comments in real-time and even scroll through them. The downside that I’ve noticed so far, is that every comment you make is published directly to your Twitter feed. Sure, this has some positives… especially for the hosting Twitter handle who’s receiving ton’s of Twitter PR… but this also starts to push out a ton of non-contextual content to your own followers, which could be disruptive in their feeds. Having an option of some kind would be useful in this regard. Another feature that’s currently lacking is the ability to replay content once the live stream has ended. This can’t necessarily be chalked up as a negative, especially considering the urgency created by perishable content, most notably popular in the Snapchat app.
Periscope is Twitter’s “response” to Meerkat and it launched today, Thursday 3/26/15. Although, the team behind Periscope has been working on this project for close to a year, and it shows. It’s been reported that Twitter acquired Periscope in January for close to $100m. The interface for Periscope is beautifully designed and in appearances alone it looks to be more polished, that of course is a completely subjective opinion. Again, who would have thought a white cartoonish ghost on a yellow background would have appealed to the masses with Snapchat. Periscope’s launch today will be interesting to follow, and even more interesting will be observing the outcome between these 2 services. It feels a bit similar to Snapchat versus Facebook’s Poke app, and we all know how that one turned out. However, there are some significant differences in functionality.
Personal Experience: Very clean and intuitive interface. I love that I’m able to see a profile picture of all the viewers who are commenting. It’s also extremely easy to click on a person’s profile and follow their Twitter account immediately, this makes for great networking. My comments are not being pushed into my Twitter feed automatically, so I’m not force feeding my followers content that might be out of context. All of the video content that’s streamed can also be replayed, which is kind of cool, but again this seems to be the major difference in strategy between the 2 apps. There’s also a random animation of bubbling hearts to show when someone “likes” the video feed… not sure how I feel about this one, and it’s not super intuitive to use. Also, the viewer comments disappear pretty quickly and there’s no way to scroll back through the comments, I kind of missed that feature after using Meerkat. I noticed there were some connectivity issues today, this could be due to the high influx of new traffic on launch day.
I really had fun playing with both apps, I’m sure both will be making changes. I’m eager to experiment a bit more with actually hosting a stream. As of now, all aesthetics aside, the major difference really seems to be perishable video content vs. non-perishable video content. In the long run, I think it really boils down to is quantity and quality of content. The more streams there are to choose from, and the quality value users get from those streams will be key. As of now, I’ve discovered some awesome live streaming content from Meerkat, with video streams from people like Guy Kawasaki and Gary Vaynerchuck, that value is hard to compete with. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out and in the meantime, keep experimenting. #LetsGetNerdy