Meerkat, Hit Israeli Social Media Startup, Raises $14 Million

Investors include Hollywood A-listers, but Twitter launches rival service.

Inbal Orpaz
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Meerkat app's logo. Screenshot from
Inbal Orpaz

Meerkat, the Israeli live streaming app for Twitter that has attracted huge buzz in the social-media world, has also landed $14 million in new capital, just a month after it was formed.

Meerkat founder Ben Rubin confirmed in a blog post Thursday that it had raised the cash from a group of investors led by the U.S. venture capital fund Greylock Partners and a group of investors from the entertainment world: Broadway Video Ventures, the venture-capital arm of “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michael’s company, as well as Universal Music Group, the actor-singer Jared Leto, David Tisch and YouTube founder Chad Hurley.

“Now that Meerkat has lit the world on fire over the past couple of weeks, it’s becoming the foundation of what I hope will become a powerful new network,” said Greylock partner Josh Elman in an online post.

The technology website TechCrunch said the list also includes other Hollywood investors such as talent agency WME and CAA Ventures, the venture arm of Creative Artists Agency. Israeli investors include the Aleph venture capital fund, which had already been an investor in Meerkat.

But Thursday also saw a setback for the startup after Twitter launched a competing streaming service called Periscope. That followed Twitter’s decision to cut off Meerkat’s access to its so-called social graph, meaning Meerkat users can no longer automatically follow everyone they follow on Twitter.

Meerkat allows users to live-stream video from their smartphones and then sends a tweet alerting followers. The videos are only viewable as they happen, though a recently developed separate app called Katch allows users to record the videos and post to YouTube.

Meerkat was a hit app at the Texas South by Southwest Festival this year and counts as users celebrities such as Al Roker and Jimmy Fallon. The company was founded as Yevvo in 2011, with more or less the same idea it employs now. It launched a service in 2013 that proved unsuccessful. Meerkat was set up later as a separate project and raised its first round of capital in Feburary.

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