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Meerkat's Ben Rubin on Twitter, Competition and the Future of Live Video

Meet the guy behind the app everyone is talking about this weekend.
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Ben Rubin, the guy behind app-of-the-moment Meerkat, says he’s not surprised that Twitter gave his live-streaming startup a slap-down last night — and that he’s got a plan to deal with that.

That doesn’t mean he’s happy about the way Twitter dealt with him, which he explained to me in an interview that Re/code Meerkatted (with limited success) and taped today. You can watch the full interview below.

This is a little rambly, in part because we were dealing with multiple forms of communication* during our chat. But I think even without tech issues, this would be a bit swirly, because 27-year-old Rubin is in a swirl.

A couple of weeks ago, his service didn’t exist. Last week, it was the tech crowd’s most-chatted-about app, timed perfectly for the app-chatter convention that is South by Southwest, the annual interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

And then, yesterday, Twitter confirmed that it had bought Periscope, a rival live-streaming app that had never gotten out of a closed beta, all the way back in January, for a reported $100 million. A few hours later, Twitter gave Rubin a firm kick in the rear by reducing his access to Twitter’s “graph” of users.

That means Rubin can still use Twitter to promote his app, but it won’t be nearly as easy to do so. Whether that’s a no-brainer for Twitter — given that they have their own app that does something similar — or a sign that they felt threatened by a teeny startup depends on your perspective. And it has made for some pretty good debates over the last day — both on Twitter itself and in Austin’s version of the real world.

Here’s Rubin’s take (by the way — if you’re an investor looking to put money into his startup, make sure you check out the last bit of our talk):

* Note to self: Sometimes you need to bail on gimmicks** when they don’t work.

** Other note to self: Sometimes when you’re time-pressed at a crazy event, you don’t have the option to go to a Plan B.

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