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Former media heads from Twitter, Tumblr to Meerkat

Kurt Wagner
Meerkat hires former Tumblr's head of media and partnerships, Sima Sistani (L) and Twitter's former head of media Chloe Sladden.
Source: Linkedin

Meerkat is preparing for a mainstream push.

The livestreaming app that took off around Austin's South By Southwest conference back in March has made two significant additions to its executive team. The company hired Sima Sistani, Tumblr's head of media and partnerships, as its new VP of media, content and community. It's also bringing on Twitter's former head of media, Chloe Sladden, as an official adviser. The news was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

Sistani will be tasked with building Meerkat's first media team after spending the last year and a half building media relationships for Tumblr. She tells Re/code that until now, a lot of Meerkat's involvement with the media has been reactive, something she hopes to change.

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"I'm looking forward to working proactively with media partners who want to push the envelope when it comes to live content — this is about participatory media," she wrote in an email to Re/code. "I don't think we've seen the best use cases from the medium yet. It's less about celebrity and more about content."

This is an important area for livestreaming apps. The potential troubles were highlighted during the recent boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao when copyright laws were put to the test. Lots of sports leagues and media groups are still trying to figure out how to work with livestreaming companies, so partnerships around this could be huge.

The addition of Sladden is also noteworthy given her most recent position at Twitter, which she left last June as part of a massive executive shakeup. As head of media, her job was to get the Twitter product into the hands of influential partners, like celebrities, television networks and sports leagues.

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Those are the kinds of users that helped Twitter take off, and they might also be the users Meerkat needs to boost its reputation and gain more mainstream recognition outside of tech circles.

Sladden is not, however, investing in Meerkat. She recently started angel investing as part of the #Angels investment group made up of current and former Twitter execs, but her adviser position is not accompanied by a financial stake in the company, according to a person familiar with the role.

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This media push should help Meerkat keep pace with its top competitor, Periscope, which is owned by Sladden's former employer. One of the benefits of being owned by Twitter is that Periscope can leverage those existing media connections.

It's no surprise then that Periscope has gotten love from celebs like Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah and Ryan Seacrest — and while Meerkat has a slew of celeb users as well, it doesn't have a built-in media machine at its disposal the way Periscope does with Twitter. These new hires should help with that.

By Kurt Wagner, Re/

CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.