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Periscope CEO: We're Growing (And Facebook Doesn't Scare Us One Bit!)

“If we got super nervous ... every time Facebook decided to get into a new vertical, we wouldn’t get anything done."

Asa Mathat for Re/code

When Twitter first launched its livestreaming app Periscope last March, its biggest competition was Meerkat, the darling of SXSW with relatively no funding and fewer than a dozen employees.

What a difference a year can make!

Periscope celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday, and it’s no longer competing with Meerkat, which was pushed out of the livestreaming game altogether.

Instead it’s staring at competition from Facebook and, soon, Google’s YouTube. Facebook in particular seems hell bent on crushing Twitter’s livestreaming product. It has made livestreaming a top priority for its video team and is talking to celebrities in hopes of luring them to the product with cash.

That kind of competition would keep most entrepreneurs up late staring at the bedroom ceiling. Not Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykpour, though. (At least, he won’t admit it if it does.)

“We’re not really fazed by the fact that now suddenly everyone thinks that livestreaming is an interesting industry,” Beykpour said. “We were thinking about this before it was super interesting to the big players so the fact that Facebook, the 800-pound gorilla, woke up one day and decided that live was interesting is very flattering for us. They couldn’t have been further from this a year ago.”

He added: “If we got super nervous and thought deeply about competition every time Facebook decided to get into a new vertical we wouldn’t get anything done.”

It’s possible that Facebook’s interest in livestreaming has actually benefitted Periscope, at least temporarily. (It turns out people pay attention to areas that Mark Zuckerberg finds fascinating.)

Periscope says that users are now watching 110 years worth of video every single day. That’s up from 41 years worth of video consumption back in August.

It’s tough to put those metrics into context, but the bottom line is people are watching more than 2.5 times as much Periscope video as they did nine months ago. This number doesn’t include time people spend watching Periscope broadcasts on Twitter, a relatively new feature that hasn’t been worked into the metric yet, Beykpour says.

Users are also creating more broadcasts. Beykpour says users have created 200 million live broadcasts, up from just 100 million in January. Getting people to create videos, not just watch them, was one of the key hurdles that tripped Meerkat. Beykpour says that challenge is “extremely” important to Periscope moving forward.

“No matter how good your discovery tools are, if people aren’t creating content there’s going to be nothing to discover in the first place,” he said. “You need to have that supply for the demand to even matter.”

What’s Next?

It’s clear that Twitter cares a lot about Periscope. CEO Jack Dorsey talks often about making Twitter “live” and Periscope is as real-time as it gets. It’s also no accident that Beykpour now sits on Twitter’s executive team, a show of confidence (and interest) from Dorsey.

But Year Two at Periscope will likely be tougher than Year One. Increased competition is one element, but there will be heightened expectations, too. Periscope is part of Twitter, after all, a company monitored very closely by both Wall Street and the media. Twitter never turned its other video app Vine into a meaningful part of its business. It’s likely investors will want to see more from Periscope.

The key will be how and when Twitter chooses to integrate the two products. Periscope is still very independent. You can watch Periscope broadcasts inside the Twitter app, but you can’t create them or interact with them. Beykpour says the company is thinking of a number of ways to integrate the products more closely, but getting rid of the Periscope app altogether isn’t one of them.

“I think there’s a time and place for that separate experience to exist,” he said. “Maybe at some point that changes, but for the foreseeable future, it behooves us to have that real estate where you can really laser focus on delivering the experience that we want to deliver.”

Just remember: One year can make a big, big difference.

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