Some Perspective on Twitter vs. Meerkat


I love Twitter.

So far I’m loving Meerkat, too. It’s brand new but the enthusiasm that’s been seen for such an early product is truly awesome. I ran a VC AMA (ask me anything) last Monday on Meerkat and had > 1,000 simultaneous people asking me questions. The energy was electric so I’m going to do it again this coming week.

You may have read that Twitter has now made it harder for Meerkat to operate. As a user I felt immediately frustrated by this move and said so, in stead wishing that Twitter would win based on innovation.

But the beautiful thing about Twitter in the first place – a bit like the beauty of democracy itself – is that it lets you spout off your opinion and then watch it debated in the public square. And on reflection I have slightly more balanced views. For me that’s a win. So here is the conclusion I’ve come to:

1. I’m rooting for Meerkat to succeed as an independent network

The energy created by livestream video is awesome. For years when I recorded my YouTube show “This Week in VC” (now BothSides TV) one of the most magic parts was the people who watched the show live and could ask questions in realtime. It created an energy on the show that doesn’t exist without it. Modern livestreaming of video takes this energy one step further due to the raw nature of filming & consuming on mobile. When I watch (or am watched) on Meerkat it feels a bit like a group Facetime session. It’s very intimate.

The group of people I might communicate with in a network like this might be different than the people with whom I interact on Twitter so my initial thought is that building a network outside of Twitter would be useful to me in the way I have built a separate audience in YouTube. And in general I like to see new products and new companies emerge because the market competition / dynamics drives innovation in the first place. That’s why I’m rooting for Meerkat.

2. Twitter was right to make the changes they made to how Meerkat uses their “social graph”

What did Twitter actually do?

For starters they made it impossible to export one’s “social graph” to Meerkat. The importance of social-graph portability is that once I’m using a new product if I can port my followers and whom I’m following, I instantly am following people I know and people who want to follow me can easily follow me. It’s zero friction. I have 200,000 followers on Twitter but only 4,000 on Instagram (maybe I post too many kid pictures there :). But I think the bigger reason is that it’s harder to find me on Instagram and if a social-graph port were possible …

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