Meebo Grows Up, Goes Beyond IM Roots, Launches Platform

[qi:006] Meebo, the Mountain View, Calif.-based start-up that popularized web-based instant messaging, is celebrating its second anniversary today. The three-person company we first wrote about in September 2005 is growing up literally and figuratively. The company is expanding beyond its instant messaging roots and is now embracing realtime interactions via what co-founder Seth Sternberg described as Meebo Platform.

The company is offering application programming interface (API) to its community of web-based IM users that will allow developers to write essentially widgets to the Meebo platform. Sternberg described this as a move to go beyond the IM and embrace “real time interactions” around your pre-existing social network, “your buddy list.” [Screen Shots below the fold]


“IM is a real time synchronous communication, and with this new API we are making applications more synchronous,” he said. The initial applications that be launched and shared with IM users are mostly centered around voice and video sharing. Four start-ups including Tokbox and Pudding allow you to instantly video and voice chat with your IM buddies. Given that these are web-based applications, no software downloads are required.


In the near future, developers can for instance write a co-mapping application, which allows you to look up a restaurant, and read Yelp reviews in real time and decide over the IM if you and your buddies want to go have a meal there. How about a game application that you can play in real with your IM buddies?

Sternberg is confident that developers will cook up many ways to leverage their platform. The company will offer ads in these applications (much like Facebook) and will split the revenues with the developers. Meebo, for now is going to keep a tight control on which applications get on its platform, and will be approving it over the time.

The bottom line is that Meebo is capitalizing on two trends that are going to take further momentum: collaboration and real time interactions. Whether the company can become a worthy competitor to other social platforms, that remains to be seen.

Disclosure: Meebo is funded by True Ventures, as is GigaOM.

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* Meebo adds media viewing rooms
* Last desktop app standing, IM
* How to Tokbox and spam your friends.