Livestream your life with Meerkat

Instantly stream your life with Meerkat
Instantly stream your life with Meerkat

For those who've tired of sharing photos on Instagram or texting emojis, livestreaming your life could be your next move.

Meerkat, a new San Francisco-based app that launched February 27, hopes to lead that charge.

Users can "meerkat" (yes, it's become a verb) by downloading the free iOS app, which connects to a Twitter account (it's required to have one). Meerkat users can see who's watching and engage with them on the app.

Though the startup is just two weeks old, Israeli entrepreneur Ben Rubin has spent years working on livestreaming startups. He intended to launch Meerkat as part of his livestreaming firm Life on Air Inc. (which was itself a pivot from his startup Yevvo).

Days after launching Meerkat though, Rubin, 27, took to Twitter to announce that he was devoting his startup's resources solely to Meerkat.

On Tuesday alone, people watched 30,000 different streams, according to Meerkat community director Ryan Cooley, who declined to disclose downloads but said streams are increasing each day. There are users in 156 countries, though 75% of usage is in the U.S.

The startup has already attracted big names. Spotify's Daniel Ek meerkat'ed a tour of the company's Stockholm office. Jared Leto livestreamed a chat with fans from Russia. Angel investor Paige Craig used it to stream a Los Angeles policeman harassing his Lyft driver; and the Miami Dolphins introduced defensive star Ndamnukong Suh to its team via Meerkat.

Meerkat has already infiltrated the lexicon here at CNN. ("Anytime you're up for meerkating, just let me know," was literally overheard in the newsroom as I typed.) Two of our tech reporters have a daily meerkat date to chat about their stories. Outlets like CNBC, Nasdaq and PBS have all signed up.

Because of its integration with Twitter (TWTR), some suggested Meerkat could be an obvious acquisition. But the social media giant recently acquired Periscope, a mobile livestreaming service still in beta, which Periscope confirmed via Twitter Friday.

Also on Friday, just as SXSW kicked off, Twitter said it was "limiting" Meerkat's access to Twitter's social graph in a move "consistent with our internal policy," according to an email statement from a Twitter spokesperson.

"Their users will still be able to distribute videos on Twitter and log in with their Twitter credentials," according to the statement.

Twitter's integration was a huge part of Meerkat's appeal, since users could auto-follow Twitter connections on Meerkat and were notified when new Twitter friends joined.

Meerkat declined to comment but Rubin took to Twitter to express his thoughts.

"twitter's move here shows how significant meerkat has become," he wrote in a series of tweets.

"And lastly, THIS is just the beginning for Meerkat. --The revolution will be live streamed."

Venture capitalist Mark Suster also tweeted: "I hope more people will use @AppMeerkat as a sign that people care about innovation & don't reward network clampdowns."

If livestreaming doesn't sound that new to you, it's because it's not. Video-sharing startup Qik tried to make it mainstream years ago (it was eventually bought by Skype).

Eden Shochat, partner at VC firm Aleph which led the investment in Rubin's Yevvo, said the "bandwidth, camera quality, battery power" make it a better time for a product like this.

"I'm quite certain that video that allows you to participate with your viewers is here to stay," said Shochat.

Cooley concurs.

"You've got the Snapchat generation where people are used to unedited, unpolished content," he said. "[Now] it's much easier to deliver livestreaming," he said.

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