How fun for an entrepreneur to utter the words, “Today, I’m pleased to announce we’ve been acquired by (fill in the blank).” On Monday, it was Emmett Shear’s turn, announcing on Twitch.tv’s blog that he had sold the business to Amazon, which is paying nearly a billion dollars – in cash, mind you – for the live video-streaming platform for gamers.
Twitch launched out of what was Justin.tv (now closed) to focus exclusively on live video for gamers. Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash (“as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items”). Amazon said subject to customary closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2014.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raved about Twitch in the company’s press release announcing the deal on Monday. “Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month – from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old. Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”
The reason for Bezos’ giddiness may have been in part because he apparently snatched Twitch away from Google’s YouTube, which had been rumored to be in serious talks to acquire the company. Shear said Twitch chose Amazon because “they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster.”
In describing the company, Amazon said, “In February 2014, The Wall Street Journal ranked Twitch as the 4th largest website in terms of peak internet traffic in the U.S., fortifying the brand as an entertainment industry leader and the epicenter of social video for gamers.”
Shear said, “We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch. It’s dangerous to go alone. On behalf of myself and everyone else at Twitch, thank you for coming with us.”