Beme: Creating and Revamping a Social Network

Matt Hackett, formerly of Tumblr and now CTO at video-sharing app Beme, shares his experience at Beme so far and how that lead to a total revamp of the app, just a year after the release of its public beta.

He prefaces by highlighting the inherently near-impossible challenge of creating a social network that can gain traction in this day and age:

“We’re playing a game. In order to make it beyond the first level, we need to build a product that holds the focused attention of at minimum 100 million people. We have 3–4 years to do it, maybe. If we do not stay on a trajectory toward that goal, we will quickly cease to exist.”

“That’s insane!” is the usual reply.

It is insane. It is a game which we play knowing we will most likely fail. It is a game we are absurdly privileged to even be able to play. It is also the game Casey Neistat and I signed up for.

It is only emphatic of how much Hackett, Neistat, and the rest of the team at Beme believe in their product. The app doesn’t exist because there’s a gap in the market or it’s where the market is trending towards. (If anything, they’re bucking the trend, having users record raw video instead of carefully curated bits and pieces of their lives.) They believe it can fundamentally change the way people interact online using their devices.

In Hackett’s words:

Why would anyone in their right mind want to play this game? We are doing it because we genuinely believe there is a gap between the promise and the reality of social media today.

Hackett also elaborates on the Beme team’s resilience and determination to get things right:

For most people who have tried it so far, Beme failed...

We tweaked, we simplified, we polished. It took us a few months more to fully realize how much needed to be changed.

Come January of this year, we confronted ourselves. Minor tweaks weren’t going to cut it. We sat the team down and shared a scary but urgent new mandate: rebuild Beme in a way that actually fulfilled the promise that garnered so much excitement about its launch.

I’m humbled by the team’s ridiculously impressive, unhesitating work toward that goal over the past four months. Our core principles remained the same; rethinking the product only solidified them.

You don’t come across stories like these anymore, especially with start-ups. Their hard work and willingness to take a chance and start over is inspiring. What’s exciting is that the story has only begun.

Beme just came out of beta and into v1.0. It’s on the App Store and Google Play Store right now. I’m admittedly in the many who’ve dropped out early on but I’m trying it again and liking it so far. Username: helveticaleb, as per usual.