MeerKat and Snapchat hit the Big Time

Meerkat the ISO only new instant 
Video Stream of "Anything"
The initial version of Meerkat was built by Rubin’s co-founder, Itai Danino, in eight weeks. ("The client is all duct tape," Rubin says.) The app was submitted to Product Hunt, Silicon Valley’s favorite cool-hunting destination of late, and quickly rose to No. 1 for the day. As the influential Product Hunt audience tweeted out their streams, Meerkat gained near-total awareness among the early adopter crowd, and Rubin announced that the app had gone from side project to full-time focus.

Over the weekend, Rubin and his 11-person team planned to hack together an app for Android users that would let them watch streams; a full-featured Android app is on its way. The bigger task by far is to sustain last week’s momentum into this one. Rubin is aware of how fast the hype cycle can turn — he went through it once with Yevvo, after all — but for now, the 27-year-old former architecture student says he is happy just to build Meerkat and watch people find uses for it. "If the product is really good, you should get value from day one — and then come back on day two," he says. "If it’s relevant, it will stick. That’s my mission with Meerkat."

At the same time, many of Meerkat's core features had been implemented by its predecessors: logging in with Twitter, comments that turn into tweets, and the main idea of broadcasting from a mobile device. Justin Kan, founder of, noted that his company had tried all three before successfully pivoting into Twitch, the video-game streaming platform acquired by Amazon last year. So had Ustream, Livestream, Qik, and Bambuser. "I think it's hard to provide value to the random person in broadcasting: most of the time when they go live, few people will watch, and there won't be much interactivity," Kan told me via email. "It's hard to know what to do as a broadcaster — even today I have viewers but no idea of what I should do on the service.

Snapchat is growing fast every day 
So hurry up and get it.
What makes a startup successful and what makes it more forgettable than a status update? We can’t know for sure, but perhaps an Ivy League education helps. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at Harvard… Instagram’s Kevin Systrom studied at Stanford… and now, the latest success story—Snapchat—comes from Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegal, all three of whom created Snapchat while at Stanford.

Snapchat’s success is proof of what happens when a startup responds to the digital needs and tastes we have right at this moment. Since launching in 2011, Snapchat has quickly garnered attention by being a startup with one of the fastest growth rates seen in recent years. To illustrate, take a look at Snapchat’s user adoption rate. In December 2012 Snapchat had 50 million users; by April 2013, Snapchat had 200 million.

Part of Snapchat’s whirlwind success may stem from the simplicity of its premise. Snapchat is a photo and video sharing app: you can record short videos or take photos and quickly send them to your friends. What makes Snapchat stand out is this: once a video or photo is viewed, it disappears forever. And if you try to take a screenshot, good luck: not only is it extremely awkward to take one while holding a phone and holding your finger to the phone to keep recording, the sender is also notified if the app detects that a screenshot has been taken. In fact, Snapchat has a patent on this type of recording technology: one tap takes a photo, while holding the recording button takes a video. The immediacy and ephemeral nature of Snapchat is what’s getting people hooked, and for good reason.

By now, many people have clued in to the fact that what you put on the Internet can come back and haunt you. Whether you’re a high school student or a banker on Wall Street, the repercussions of an angry Facebook status or an inappropriate Instagram shot can cost you your job and your reputation. Snapchat is the solution: you can post without thinking twice, and don’t have to worry about it sticking around like a spectre afterwards. Although most of the users are still in between the ages of 15-25, the growth already exhibited by Snapchat shows that other age groups will adopt it soon, too. And Snapchat has made an effort to engage other age groups: the company has also released SnapKidz, a version of Snapchat for users under 13, and has released a guide for parentsto reassure parents about their children’s privacy and safety using Snapchat.

That said, Snapchat initially received a lot of flack for its potential to be used by teenagers as a sexting app. However, the founders of Snapchat are not too concerned about that reputation: Spiegel said, “we are not advertising ourselves as a secure platform. We are advertising ourselves as a communication platform.” Investors don’t seem to be concerned, either: Snapchat recently wowed the tech world by winning $60 million in funding led by Institutional Venture Partners, despite the fact that they don’t have a solid model of monetization yet. In the eyes of venture capitalists, Snapchat is now worth $860 million. The founders say they’re moving towards in-app sales and native advertising as monetization models, but it’s yet to be seen how well those models will perform through Snapchat.

It’s also interesting to note that in a way, Snapchat is almost an anti-Google. Google has built its empire on storing information and making it accessible to anyone in a highly personalized and efficient way. If you google yourself, you’ll probably find a link to a MySpace account you created eight years ago, not to mention a schwack of other ancient information you thought you had deleted. Snapchat is a turn in the opposite direction, offering us a break from the never-ending digital footprint; and based on its immediate popularity, this opposite direction is appealing to more and more users who are embracing digital means of communication.