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Menlo Talks Mergers: A Discussion with Kayvon Beykpour of Periscope

August 25, 2015

There’s a saying in venture that you’re too early, too early, too early, too late. With Menlo’s investment in Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter, we seem to have gotten the timing just right. Periscope hit a million users in their first 10 days, and recently announced that they have 10 million downloads after hitting 2 million daily actives. Menlo’s Derek Chu sat down with Kayvon at our event “Menlo Talks Mergers,” and discussed the idea behind Periscope, how it grew and evolved, and the process of getting acquired by Twitter.

On starting Periscope

“We were really interested in breaking that fourth wall of, ‘I know something’s happening right now, but what if I could participate in that experience? What if I could actually effect the experience and make something else happen by actually interacting with that creator?’”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On the live video versus replay, and what’s next

“Our focus is letting people explore the world in real time through other people’s eyes. The real-time part of that is really crucial. There’s also non-real-time aspects to our product. You can watch replays on Periscope. That’s actually a very pragmatic observation, and that’s why live isn’t the entire emphasis of the app. It is the special part, that you can affect the experience. It’s what differentiates our app. There’s so much we can do around discovery. Some of that can be live and some of that can be non-live.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On looking at metrics that have value

“There’s a ton of stuff that we look at that we don’t release. We do have a single organizational metric that we think is the most important. For us that’s something that we call time watched, which is the aggregate amount of time that our audience spends watching Periscopes that are created: 40 years per day. The reason that’s the most important metric for us is it’s the most reflective of the value the users are getting out of our platform.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On partnering with Twitter

“One of the most salient questions was, do we think that there’s alignment in the vision of our products? The answer to that question was a fervent yes. From there it was all a bunch of other considerations that we had a lot of conviction around. For example, we wanted to be a startup. That means a lot of things. That means we own the product decisions. We own the branding. We own everything. We have our own office space. Those things really mattered for us.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On what has and hasn’t changed since acquisition

“We run a startup. It’s messy, it’s loud, there’s music playing. We’ve already outgrown it. It’s our space. That feeling is really important to us and in that sense I think it’s been incredibly successful from a cultural standpoint. We’ve been given the autonomy to succeed or fail on our own merits.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On when (and when not to) pay attention to the competition

“I could name for you over a dozen companies off the top of my head that are consumer live streaming applications that have existed since before the iPhone even existed to as recently as a year or so ago. We had the fortune of being able to look at what other folks did really well and what other folks didn’t do so well. The result of that is we had our own conviction on what we wanted to build and we knew that there were going to be tons of other people in this space. We ultimately made a bet on this space.  The honest answer is we just don’t think too much about our competition because if we did, we wouldn’t get any work done.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope

On the importance of a good investor

“A good investor, especially the seed stage, is one who makes a bet on a team. The reality is that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We look at the pitch decks that we shared with Menlo and everyone else and they look so different. The reality is that anyone who’s started something will go through so much change and evolve so much what they’re doing, that really an investor is someone who’s just unconditionally supportive.”

—Kayvon Beykpour, Co-Founder & CEO, Periscope