The last 8 days have been pretty crazy.
Meerkat Stats launched to a great response last Thursday, largely driven by an early and highly ranked post on Product Hunt (more on that below). In this short amount of time I've had amazing interactions with awesome people, learned a lot about coding, community, social and the web all while traveling, working and broadcasting daily on Meerkat.
A quick reminder...
Meerkat is an app for iOS. You open it up, and either choose to broadcast yourself live over the internet or watch someone else doing the same. I've been using it for a while (read my earlier posts on the subject) and I thoroughly enjoy meeting and chatting with people from a myriad of backgrounds all over the world.
Meerkat Stats is a web app I created to analyze a broadcaster's history and identify those who engage on their streams. It breaks down your past broadcasts and allows to sort by time, viewers, likes, comments etc... It also gives user-specific data on those who comment the most, people who offer the most love, who is restreaming and simply who watches you most frequently, These are separated into 50 lists per category. Just today I added the ability to follow the broadcaster on Twitter and Meerkat right from the page.
As a service purporting to offer "Analytics for Meerkat," I better have some good analytics to examine the site usage... right? Well that's where Google Analytics comes in! I track searches, leaderboard clicks, sorts and all kinds of features. Here are some stats to date (4/10/15):
- 45% of traffic from outside the US
- 7,700 page views (5,000 unique)
- 3,700 searches & 2,800 leaderboard clicks
- >1,000 visits to Mashable's stats
- Avg 3 searches per session
- Avg time on Page = 3 min
Obviously, the first couple days accounted for the majority of the traffic... but the community on Meerkat has seemingly taken a liking to these stats, and there has been a steady traffic pattern since the initial pop. I like that people are performing multiple searches and I like that people are using the leaderboard (especially since that was a last minute addition to the site).
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Product Hunt is simply an amazing resource on the web. There simply isn't a place to find more cool, new stuff. From a maker's perspective, I wouldn't consider launching anywhere else. As of today, I have 209 upvotes and 13 comments on the Meerkat Stats post. Of course, I could've tried seeding it to influencers, I could've sent it to some journalists... maybe gotten other top Meerkatters to talk about it. But those would be the the actions of someone who knew what they were doing. Here's what I did know:
There was nowhere better on the web to launch my side project than Product Hunt.
Here are some more stats based on the Product Hunt referral tag (which they so graciously add to the URL):
- 45% of pageviews to date has had ?ref=producthunt
- 11% of social traffic has been driven by Ryan Hoover
- Over 5,000 impressions on twitter as a result of his tweets
- >30% of searches & clicks have been driven by PH referrals
I did what I believe was the first LIVE hunting on Meerkat, coordinating with them to make sure it would hit the front page quickly. I have been extremely fortunate to not only have the support of the Product Hunt team, but to be working in a medium with such instant feedback. Developing while streaming on Meerkat has brought about many feature improvements as well as real time bug reporting.
On a side note: Everyone should follow Erik Torenberg (founding team at Product Hunt) on Meerkat. He freestyle raps many days/week, and it's great. Very interactive and engaging -- a perfect case study for a fantastic use of Meerkat. Also, Ryan Hoover, their CEO. He often times will open up AMA (ask me anything) sessions for Product Hunt feedback and also streams when talking to really awesome people. Neither of these people have yet to appear as guests on my streams, but ONE DAY they might!
I was super proud of the backend I'd built when I launched last week... In testing, it worked pretty well. In reality, with the growth of both users on the site and users on Meerkat itself, it was not suited for the task. Below is a snapshot of the CPU usage time on the last 7 days (unfortunately launch day is just out of range) - Clearly the increased load of the last couple days has been substantial. I have some more ideas on how to improve this, especially as I seek to add features.
I should note that (for now) Meerkat Stats runs on Microsoft Azure. The database utilizes SQL Azure while the site runs on an Azure Website (with a couple continuous Web Jobs running to process some stuff). This isn't cheap. So I'm looking at some options. But for now, I am best with .Net & SQL, so this suits it.
// -- WARNING: Semi-Technical Stuffs Below-- \\
Essentially, Meerkat was generating data too quickly for Meerkat Stats to keep up. Some data was being missed, some processes timed out too quickly and the queue of items to process grew to unacceptable levels. One source of these problems is the usage of SQL Azure as opposed to a SQL server running in a VM... This choice was made originally to try and simplify management and gain more performance for the same cost. If given the option... I probably wouldn't go this route again. But the backups and simplicity of SQL Azure is nice (but the absence of many nice features within SSMS is almost unbearable).
Also, last Friday, SQL Azure for West-US (where I'd set up my DB) went down for a while... I was out to lunch with my family and had to begin a migration to an east coast server via my iPhone - not an easy task. This was a minor annoyance... but an annoyance none the less.
In the end, scaling costs money. I scaled up both the website to have more RAM and more cores, allowing for better parallel crawling. I also upgraded the DB, to allow more DTUs (Database Throughput Units)... what this equates to, I'm not sure.
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So this Meerkat thing has led me into some spontaneous serendipitous experiences, and I'm just going to highlight some below:
Chatting with the Meerkat Folks
Throughout this process, everyone at Meerkat have been fantastic. I figured I'd get some polite congrats from the higher-ups, but I've had message exchanges with both Ben (CEO) & Itai (CTO). Ben reached out for a couple feature things, while Itai has not only responded to some API inquiries but was actually proactive to let me know of a change in the service that would have an impact on Meerkat Stats.
FaceTiming with Matt Mazzeo
Matt Mazzeo formerly worked at CAA and shaped their digital and social endeavours and investments. Now he's a Venture Capitalist. He works with super awesome dude Chris Sacca at lowercase Capital. With companies like Uber, Stripe & Twitter in his portfolio... I'd say he's pretty good at what he does. He's also been featured numerous times on the StartUp Podcast (as an investor behind the parent company, Gimlet Media). He popped in my room while I was waiting to pick up dinner and I was flabbergasted to simply have him in my room. He was nearing the boarding time for a flight at SFO, and because of the power of the internet, he FaceTimed in. We chatted for about 15 minutes about his history, my backstory and the impact of Meerkat and discussed Periscope V. Meerkat. It was truly an honor.
Community & People knowing who i am
This is probably the weirdest experience for me... I can enter a Meerkat room as a viewer and be recognized not only as "that guy on the leaderboard" but as "the guy that made Meerkat Stats." Still just some guy... but quite cool. I think this highlights the community that Meerkat has built. Unlike a lot of the web, it's inclusive, it's fun and it's pretty honest. There's something about the combination of mobile, realtime video and uni-focus that makes Meerkat a totally new kind of interaction.
There are many things I want to do with Meerkat Stats. These include more audience-tailored features, new kinds of insights, and simply more data. The cost of Azure is certainly a limiting feature (if for some strange reason, you feel compelled to help... you can do so here). Also, there's only so many hours in the day. But the feedback has been positive enough for me to continue to pursue improving the site.
In line with the community nature of Meerkat, I want to develop Meerkat Stats how the community wants to use it. So tweet at me with #MKstatideas or use the contact form here to let me know what you want. UI changes, bug reports, features, whatever!