Ben Rubin understands the place social goes. Actually, he understands it so effectively, he’s all the time there early.
Rubin is the present CEO and co-founder of Slashtalk and an angel investor who scouts for Sequoia Capital. He beforehand based Houseparty and Meerkat — apps that pioneered group video chat and cellular livestreaming, respectively — shaping large social tendencies of their earliest phases.
In 2015, Meerkat took SXSW by storm. The app appeared to have captured lightning in a bottle, and entrenched gamers in social seen. Twitter was early to the development too, having bought Periscope earlier that year, and leveraged Meerkat’s momentum to draw individuals to its personal product. Half a 12 months later, Fb vaulted into the house with Facebook Live.
Meerkat didn’t sustain, however it did rework. In 2016, the identical staff launched Houseparty, a bunch video chat app geared towards connecting established mates in informal digital hangouts somewhat than streaming to the lots. Three years later, in a world not but ravaged by the pandemic, it sold to Fortnite maker Epic Games.
With individuals pushed indoors and away from IRL social interactions, Houseparty boomed. In a single month through the pandemic’s early part, the app noticed 50 million new signups and hit the highest of the charts throughout the iOS App Retailer and Google Play. However Houseparty struggled to retain customers, and by fall of 2021 Epic introduced that it could unceremoniously wind down the venture and pull Houseparty from app stores.
Solely time will inform if Houseparty’s expertise will play a job in Epic’s imaginative and prescient for the metaverse — an interconnected collection of seamless digital worlds for individuals to discover and socialize in. However whatever the app’s eventual destiny, Houseparty’s tackle social spontaneity and informal group video was forward of its time.
If anybody is effectively positioned to know the place social networks are going within the close to future, it’s in all probability Rubin. He’s now engaged on Slashtalk, “an anti-meeting software for quick, decentralized conversations.” Slashtalk’s ethos echoes each Meerkat and Houseparty’s perception in social serendipity, however this time Rubin is concentrated on the office somewhat than shopper social.
Rubin will be part of us onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 to speak about his new firm and the tendencies powering present upheavals in social networking, from decentralization and possession to the way forward for a linked post-pandemic world.