I grabbed the Meebo chat app for iOS the day it came out, and it was a great, free alternative to existing options like IM+ and Beejive. It had a few minor bugs though, like tapping 'send' was actually tapping Return, so if your cursor was in the middle of a line it would send a message which was broken in half where your cursor was.
They fixed it after a few months, but you could very obviously see that what was happening was it was inserting the newline, and then they were removing it, and then the message was getting sent. It was an obvious hack and it made me feel like they really didn't understand how to make a good iOS app, and didn't care enough to do it properly.
Meanwhile, they started adding other 'features'. They added the ability to 'check in' to a website, like foursquare for web pages. Except it only worked inside of the built-in browser in Meebo, which meant it only worked for links that your friends sent you via IM while you were on your phone. How much time did they spend implementing a feature that I can't imagine anyone ever using instead of adding actual functionality to their app (or fixing the constant crashes I got all the time)?
That was the point where I basically wrote Meebo off. Sure, they probably couldn't make money providing a free chat service, but they could have branched out in other areas, rather than the idiotic-seeming stuff they've been working on lately.
That toolbar is godawful, and I have no idea how they managed to sign up so many companies to display it. I mean.. it's not like they had access to all these advertisers since they were primarily a chat company. It's something that can be duplicated by any one of us. What gives?
It's the result of an incredible bd and ad sales team. If you look at the senior team, esp in sales, it's a lot of very senior CNET veterans who took along most of their experience and contacts from CNET to Meebo.
Most of their initial toolbar customers came from the Time Warner strategic investment. Publishers are so hungry for revenue, they tend to flock to guaranteed revenue, which Meebo was likely using to get additional sites on board. I'm guessing that we'll see the end of those toolbars within six months, as Google will have no interest in selling that ad format. They're already rumored to be laying off all te salespeople.
There was a couple of steps in between I think - didn't they also do some sort of news/feed syndication or "following"?
Till Gmail and Google Talk became popular, Meebo was my MSN replacement of choice.