Meerkat shores up media partnerships with new hires

The live-streaming app has hired Sima Sistani as VP of Media, and Chloe Sladden as an advisor

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 11, 2015
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In the war for live-video streaming supremacy, Meerkat is not backing down. A few days after adding Facebook login for its users, and in the process distancing itself from Twitter, the company has now added two key hires to its executive team, one of whom used to work for its current rival.

The company has hired Sima Sistani as its new VP of Media, according to a  report out from the Hollywood Reporter on Monday. The hire is also reflected on Sistani's LinkedIn account

In her new role, Sistani will be overseeing content, partnerships, business development and community for Meerkat.

Prior to her new role, Sistani previously worked for Yahoo as Director of Business Development & Strategy and Director of Mobile Growth. She spent the last year and a half as the Head of Media for Tumblr, and it is this experience that will help her to develop new media partnerships for Meerkat.

I’m looking forward to working proactively with media partners who want to push the envelope when it comes to live content — this is about participatory media,” she said in a statement to Re/code. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best use cases from the medium yet. It’s less about celebrity and more about content.”

Developing  such relationships is going to be important to the growth of live-streaming apps, which have already found themselves in the middle of some controvsery over the distribution of illegal content. During the fight between  big Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight this past weekend, both Meerkat and the Twitter-owned Periscope were both accused of not doing enough to remove unauthorized streams of the match.

If Meerkat can develop partnerships with companies like HBO and Showtime, that might help alleviate some of the tension that has arisen lately.

The other key hire for Meerkat on Monday was that of Chloe Sladden, the former VP of Media for Twitter, who is now an advisor to the company. Sladden left Twitter last year, among a mass exodus of top employees that also included Michael Sippey, VP of Consumer Product; Chris Fry, SVP of engineering; COO Ali Rowghani; and Vivian Schilling, Twitter's first head of news.

Getting a former Twitter executive on board has to feel good for Meerkat, which formerly had a relationship with Twitter, one that ended quite suddenly.

When Meerkat first premiered a few months ago it relied exclusively on Twitter, meaning that any live-streams would automatically be sent to the user's Twitter account, rather than giving users the option to post on other social networks. That  decision was likely a smart one for Meerkat in the beginning, and allows it to be somewhat successful, but it eventually came back to bite it when Twitter cut the app off from its social graph.

Twitter then went ahead and bought its own competitor to the service, acquiring live-streaming platform Periscope, for around $100 million in March, meaning that the company now had an active reason to want Meerkat to fail.

Periscope has become incredibly popular very quickly: in an earnings call earlier this month, CEO Dick Costolo revealed that the service had reached 1 million users within its first 10 days. Meerkat is said to currently have roughly 2 million subscribers, but will easily be surpassed if Periscope can continue to grow so quickly.

Getting media companies on board for exclusive content rights, and to secure potential celebrity endorsements, will help Meerkat compete. This is going to be a fascinating space to watch!

VatorNews has reached out to Meerkat for confirmation of this report, and comment on the two new hires. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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