What it is: A web-based instant-messaging site that gives you access to the most popular IM clients, such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Live Messenger and Google Talk, anywhere you can find an internet connection -- no downloads necessary. Meebo is also branching into what it has coined "Rooms," in which people can meet up and instant message and view media together. Web publishers can post Meebo Rooms to their sites to enable chat and trade links with visitors and display media.
The demo: For the most part, users are under 25. According to recent Magid Media Futures research, 37% of 12- to 17-year-olds instant message all or most of the time. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, that number climbs to 43%. "An entire generation of people has abandoned e-mail," said Martin Green, VP-business at Meebo, who notes that the median age of users is 21.
The 'rooms' factor: In the first 39 days after Meebo launched its Rooms application, more than 75,000 were created. The service is popular with TV networks, which have long claimed that watching TV is a social experience -- which Meebo Rooms enables online. NBC has installed Rooms for its DotComedy website, CBS is incorporating it into its interactive audience network and VH1 is using Rooms for its "World Series of Pop Culture" site, allowing viewers to chat live with contestants.
The business model: It's primarily ad-driven, but the site will also offer a premium service. "We hope to be a place where marketers can find that elusive conversation and put content in front of people who care about it and can share with friends," said Mr. Green, who said the site will add advertising in the fourth quarter. It's in talks with a marketer to figure out what kind of ads might work. The site is backed by some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, Sequoia Capital and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.