Live video streaming feud: Twitter launches Periscope, Meerkat completes a funding round

bull fight

Like two bulls readying themselves for a fight, bellowing, mooing, looking menacing, intimidating the other, Twitter and Meerkat are ramping up their respective livestreaming plays.

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Today Twitter launched Periscope on iOS, a live video streaming startup it acquired back in January for a reported US$100-million. As news of the purchase became public, Twitter also cut off Meerkat’s ability to access its social graph. The news left Meerkat in the cold, considering that up until then, it had been the sole and popular live video streaming app for Twitter. Two weeks after its launch it amassed 120 000 users. Twitter’s intentions, at the time when it acquired Periscope, were not clear. Periscope was in beta and Meerkat was thriving and enjoying a seemingly bliss rise in popularity. Twitter’s next move, that of launching Periscope as a live video streaming service on Twitter, could be guessed and many did, Meerkat were not oblivious to this.

In an interview with Business Insider, Ben Rubin, Meerkat’s CEO and co-founder said: “We have been building in this space for more than two years now, almost two and half years. And you’d be naive if you didn’t think stuff is not moving and shifting. There’s so many companies that I’ve seen rise and die in this space in the past two years, and there’s so many beautiful things people build that you wouldn’t even think of — there’s always more than one way to create a product.”

Periscope, for now, cannot be launched directly from the Twitter app.


Coinciding with the news of Periscope launching on iOS is that Meerkat has completed a Series B funding round led by Greylock Partners. The details of the deal are sketchy, though the precise numbers of the deal are not the important news about this deal, what is important here is that Meerkat, despite Persicope launching, is still valuable. TechCrunch guesses that the deal is was around $12 million dollar round at a $52 million post money valuation.

The investors that Meerkat raised funding from is an assortment of investors that include YouTube Founder Chad Hurley, Sound Ventures, the investment arm of Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, Jared Leto, Universal Music Group, amongst others.

As part of the deal Josh Elman, from Greylock Partner, the company that led the funding round is joining Meerkat’s board.

At the recent SXSW, Meerkat received a major boost as it was the talk of the town, and this was shortly after Twitter was rumoured to be on the verge of launching Periscope. Meerkat is by no means a small player in the live video streaming space but it is now, perhaps unlike before, being challenged on a territory that it had marked as its own by the very company it has been riding on.

Comparing Periscope and Meerkat, without including Twitter in that equation, it might be easy to crown Meerkat as the victor and in fact go on, to conclude of Periscope, if it was just another startup, just another app on iOS that will not be much competition. But this is not the case, Periscope is owned by Twitter, and Twitter is definitely not a small player. With Twitter’s resources and financial stability, Periscope is better positioned to innovate and accelerate.


After the boardroom fights have calmed down and the fight for the user begins, it will come down to the two apps, Periscope and Meerkat ability to gain traction. Meerkat has had head start and Periscope has just begun its race. As it stands now, it is perhaps too early to compare the two. The real comparison now lies in the function the two apps are capable of. Periscope’s biggest advantage is that users can save their videos for later viewing and users can line up a shot before streaming. This is, it should be pointed out, mere difference between the two apps. Meerkat has something far more important, traction. Periscope’s triumph over Meerkat is not, because it has the backing of Twitter, guaranteed. Gaining traction, as Twitter itself knows, is not easy.

The potential and promise of live video streaming has loomed over eager internet users for a long time. With Meerkat, more than ever before, it became a possibility. With the introduction of Periscope, live video streaming is no longer a dream, or something that is on the thrust of breaking out, it is here. There is of course its challenges, the internet, more so in developing countries, where the internet is not fast and smartphones that are powerful enough to handle it are not affordable. However, in countries where conditions are ripe for it, and many can argue that this is the case already, live video streaming is going to be the new craze.

In the past we have seen Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook being at the forefront of disseminating information, the thought that with live video streaming, we could follow events around the world as they unfold is amazing and means an entire form of consuming news and content.

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