Monkey Inferno, the team behind the revived Bebo, has shuttered video chat app Blab, citing a lack of everyday usage by creators and the poor quality of most of their livestreams. Both the mobile and web apps have been shuttered as the company focuses on building its next product — an “always on” place where people will want to hang out with their friends. Created in 2014 by Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch, Blab allowed users to send messages to one another through its app. Think of it like a Google Hangout where up to four people at a time could participate in the live video chat, while others could submit commentary.
It should have been a place where the community gathered to talk, but two things went wrong, according to Monkey Inferno chief executive Shaan Puri. In a Medium post, he wrote that first of all, most livestreams on Blab “sucked,” meaning that they weren’t “interesting enough to justify stopping what [people] are doing to watch your broadcast.” At its peak, 3.9 million users had signed up for a Blab account, but only 10 percent were active. “The struggle with livestreaming is that we need to show you something awesome, that’s being made right now,” he explained.
The second factor in Blab’s demise was its failure to gain commercial traction. The company discovered that while it wanted to appeal to brands, most of its users were people who used the app as a place to hang out with their friends. Turns out that there was more activity among this group than brands like ESPN, UFC, Tony Robbins, Cisco, and others, who were only really using the about once a week “for approximately 2 hours.” In contrast, Puri said that those using the app to connect with their peers used it “5 to 6 hours per day, every day.”
With a mission to create a product that millions of people would use everyday, Blab’s team decided to rebuild its app around what was working — with a focus on being a communal hangout space for friends. Blab entered the live video space before the rise of Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live, but the marketplace is now much more crowded, with some pretty serious competitors fighting for our attention. The app had been in beta for a while and had even started to integrate itself into other services, such as its integration with Product Hunt to power the livestreamed “Ask Me Anything” events. Among the more noteworthy broadcasts was one in which it embedded on the UFC’s website, which caused its servers to overload due to traffic, and a broadcast by infamous pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli.
Monkey Inferno’s app joins Meerkat in the pile of services that have left the livestreaming game, and it’s likely others will follow. Still, the company is trying to keep the focus positive as it works to reinvent itself. “For us, we would rather fail trying to achieve our mission, than succeed at someone else’s mission,” Puri wrote. The team is said to be working on the new vision now, but it hasn’t revealed any other details about when the new app will be launched. This is it for now, stay tuned for further updates.