OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 8 - Geoff Cook is the CEO/co-founder of The Meet Group, which is a public dating-esque company that has morphed over the years. I remember talking with Geoff a few years ago in London and he was very enamored with the development of Momo. Their engagement was high, and they were doing interesting things with video. Fast-forward to 2017 and Momo's market cap has competed with and now exceeds Match Group's. So video seems to be working out very well for them with their tip-your-favorite-live-video-creators model.
The Meet Group (formerly Meetme) acquired Skout in 2016 and if(we) which operates Tagged, in 2017 and has been working to merge the platforms so members can interact between all three apps: Meetme, Skout and Tagged.
I spoke to Geoff Cook yesterday about the integration projects and he said it was going quite well. He had previously mentioned that Skout was on track for doing $7.5m in adjusted EBITDA in their first year and almost one year later, he said they're on track for that. They just launched live streaming video on Skout last week, using the same engine as Meetme. Now their intention is to add gifting in another month and then combine user-bases between Skout and Meetme.
Ultimately, this adds to the membership density, but Skout is more International. Skout is 80% international, whereas Meetme is 40%. What is common is that people on both platforms are looking to connect with new people, and not just for dating. That's a key distinction that really separates these platforms from the likes of Facebook and Match.
So what of Tagged? Geoff described Tagged as an African American app inside the USA. "That's what we found so attractive about it. It has similar features to Skout and gives The Meet Group the opportunity to create a live streaming app for African Americans. Video is now available to all of Tagged and is being well adopted and used."
By early next year, Geoff said they will have Tagged, Skout and Meetme on one video platform and they're working on adding some interesting new video features like the ability to add guest videos into a stream.
Just where does Meetme fit in the market now? Is it a social discovery service? Not so, said Geoff. Ultimately, the social discovery descriptor really faded out. He'd describe Meetme's services as belonging to "one big meeting category," which makes sense really. Facebook, Match and The Meet Group all seem to share a common cause in helping people meet. But the nuances of these services differ in that Facebook helps people stay in contact with people they already know, Match helps people within the context of wanting to meet a mate, and "Meetme and Tagged are the neighborhood bar, stated Geoff. "Video is the live entertainment at the bar."
"Meetme has always had a mission of helping users meet the universal need for human connection." Meetme's live streaming video is different from dating apps. Live streamers can ask and answer questions and receive gifts and the whole experience is more about "social entertainment." It's not really fundamentally about dating. "Meetme is the social graph of the people you want to know," stated Geoff.
Geoff described the distinction with Facebook further. Zuckerberg talks about connecting with communities and helping the world become less fragmented but Facebook doesn't want you to make a bunch of friends with people you don't know. That would just complicate the product and change the context too much.
The Meet Group will continue to be focused on live streaming. In fact, Geoff believes the entire live streaming video category to be fledgling. "Video has the potential to be as disruptive as mobile was to the web," Geoff believes. What do you think? Your comments, please.
(Full Disclosure: Mark Brooks owns shares of The Meet Group)
Previous interviews with Geoff Cook: