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Periscope's magic is interactivity, not just live streaming: Co-founder

For the secret to Periscope's "magic," look no further than Commander Chris Hadfield, the astronaut famous for performing "Space Oddity" aboard the International Space Station, Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour said Wednesday.

He said Hadfield demonstrated the real value of Periscope when he performed an impromptu rendition of the David Bowie number on request during a recent broadcast on the live streaming platform.

"That was mind-blowing. Everyone knew he's probably capable of playing the song, but one of the viewers made that happen because they asked," Beykpour said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley." "The magic experience of Periscope is not knowing that it's live. It's knowing that you can affect the experience by just asking a question."

Twitter purchased and launched Periscope in March after the start-up showed off its live-streaming service at South by Southwest earlier this year. The app allows users to broadcast live streams directly from their smartphones to social media.

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To be sure, live streaming is not a new technology. Desktop platform UStream was founded in 2007, and Google spent nearly $1 billion last year to buy Twitch, a popular service that lets gamers broadcast their gameplay.

However, a number of developments have converged to make now the right time for a product like Periscope, Beykpour said. Chief among them are the penetration of smartphones around the world, software and hardware advances, and an appetite to share content in a way that people couldn't just six years ago, he said.

This past weekend, the highly anticipated boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao illustrated the risk of putting the power to share in so many people's hands. Periscope received complaints that 66 users were allegedly streaming the copyright-protected fight. The company took down 30 of the streams it was able to identify.

The incident garnered widespread attention and raised questions about whether Periscope can adequately police its users.

"I can state unequivocally we're not excited in any way about piracy," he said. "From a process and procedures standpoint we're already prepared and we'll continue to invest in building tools to help solve that problem."

Content providers view Periscope as a friend, Beykpour said, noting that HBO, which produced and aired a preview show before the big fight on Saturday, allowed the company to go behind the scenes with Pacquiao in his locker room before the fight.

At the same time that Periscope faces questions over illicit streams, rival Meerkat has grown closer to Facebook, issuing an update over the weekend that allows users to share their live feeds directly to their Facebook page.

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While many social networks are successful at what they do, Twitter is the platform people turn to when they want live content, which is why its relationship with Periscope makes sense, Beykpour said.

"Our vision is so similar to Twitter's vision. We want to be a pulse of what's happening around the world. Periscope is a visual pulse. Twitter is the same thing just through 140 characters and other media, so that partnership allows us to do way more than we could've done as a start-up," he said.

Disclosure: CNBC's parent company, Comcast, is an investor in Meerkat.