Who Killed the ‘Kat?

What happened to Meerkat and Why They Lost the Live Streaming Race

Last year at South by Southwest, a small startup company introduced something new and exciting to the world: live streaming anytime from anywhere, all you need is a smartphone and an app. Meerkat believed that eliminating broadcasting costs would create a whole new type of social platform, allowing anyone to become a live broadcaster. Despite such a strong start, Meerkat recently announced a strategic change of course. CEO Ben Rubin posted on Medium about a “new breed of ‘kat,” saying that they were addressing some of the difficulties they had experienced and were “working on something new.” While he wasn’t specific, it appears that they may be shifting from broadcasting live streams globally, to more of a group messaging video platform.

So Who Killed the ‘Kat

With such an explosive start, why was Meerkat already shifting their focus? This all started last year before Meerkat even launched. When they made their big appearance at SXSW, little did they know Twitter had yet to make an announcement. Twitter was already sneaking into the live streaming space, they had just kept it hidden. In January 2015 Twitter quietly purchased the mobile live stream platform Periscope. As a result, only weeks after Meerkat launched, Twitter cut off Meerkat’s access to its social graph. This crippled Meerkat’s reach and viewership took a hit. Right after that, Twitter announced the acquisition of Periscope.

Twitter wasn’t the only thorn in Meerkat’s paw, though. Rumors were going around that Facebook was considering purchasing Meerkat to compete with Twitter’s Periscope. However, in August of 2015 Facebook announced their own solution to livestreaming, Facebook Live. They first released it to celebrity users, then to the public in January of this year. This further shut Meerkat out of the social space. Despite Rubin’s best efforts, he admitted that “the distribution advantages of Twitter/Periscope and Facebook Live drew more early users to them away from us and we were not able to grow as quickly alongside as we had planned.”

While Meerkat started off strong last year with a stir at SXSW, Facebook and Twitter have been loudly bolstering their superior live video products. As a result, Meerkat has had a dramatic rise and fall, and in desperation has decided to make a change. Time will tell if the app company can push out a product that will put it above the rest, or if it will stay in the shadows of the tech giants.


See how Facebook Live and Periscope stack up against each other here.