When Casey Neistat launched his new social networking app Beme last Summer, nothing was really ready yet.
The product was underdeveloped, the team understaffed, and users weren’t exactly sure why they needed a version of Snapchat where the only main difference was that you had to cover the iPhone’s proximity sensor to record.
But none of this really matters when you have a devoted following of millions of daily YouTube viewers ready to download and use your new app, like Casey does.
So for a while the product blossomed. Millions of videos were shared, celebrities were recruited to evangelize the platform, and all was good.
But eventually growth slowed, and an undeveloped product finally caught up to Beme, which was still being referred to internally as a beta.
So at some point the team made a decision to slow down, re-strategize, and rebuild the platform so the product was actually strong enough to keep users engaged.
But here’s the hard part. Casey’s YouTube career was flourishing (swelling to almost 3,000,000 subscribers), which meant tens of thousands of new viewers who would download Beme each day.
Any other startup would jump for joy at these numbers, but Beme wanted to be able to put their heads down and work towards releasing v1 and an Android version as fast as possible. So Casey stopped talking about Beme in his vlogs, stopped showing Beme HQ in the office, and generally went mum about the company.
This led to the internet going crazy with ideas – did Beme run out of funding, did Casey quit, or did the idea just flop?
The reality was that the team was trying to keep growth low while building out the new product, so a decision was made for Casey to temporarily stop talking about Beme on his channel.
While Beme’s general concept of un-previewed recording is the same, the app has a bunch of enhancements that better the overall viewing experience.
The main page is an Instagram-style scrolling view, that lets you swipe from video to video. Previously, you had to tap on the video’s name to watch it, Snapchat style.
Each user also has a profile page with a brief bio description and grid of all their past videos.
Videos can now also be watched an unlimited amount of times, meaning you can scroll through a user’s old videos to get a feel for what their life is like.
But if you were a fan of the app’s reaction feature don’t fret, because you can still view freeze-frame selfie reactions that users submit on the platform’s videos.
Recording can now be done via a button on the screen (in addition to the proximity sensor). While the screen will still go black when you’re taking a video, the on-screen controls should make it easier to get a better shot.
Essentially the app feels fresh, more useful, and actually like a v1 product. The UI is still slightly confusing (but less so than the beta version), but this is almost what gave Beme its original charm.
Plus, Casey will be joining us on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC next week, where we’ll talk more about the new Beme update and how it came to be.