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Twitch CEO Emmett Shear (left) speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Wednesday. (GeekWire photos)
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear (left) speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Wednesday. (GeekWire photos)

SAN FRANCISCO — The fruits of Amazon’s Twitch acquisition will be front-and-center later this month at TwitchCon.

emmettsheartwitch11Twitch CEO Emmett Shear spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt on Wednesday morning in San Francisco and said that his live streaming company will make a “big announcement” related to Amazon at its conference in San Diego on Sept. 30.

Amazon paid $1 billion to acquire Twitch in 2014, swooping up a site lets people stream their video game sessions and attracts more than 100 million users and 1.7 million broadcasters per month. It’s described as the “ESPN of the video game industry” where viewers go to watch live footage of video games being played. The platform is now expanding beyond gaming into new verticals like arts and music.

Since then, Amazon has quietly grown its Amazon Game Studios team and recently acquired gaming content platform Curse. The company is also now streaming its original TV shows on Twitch. But it hasn’t released anything new that fully integrates Twitch’s platform — until now.

“I’m really excited to say that we figured out a really cool way to join them up,” Shear said of Amazon and Twitch. “I could not be more excited for us to finally launch our first really deep product integration with Amazon.”

Shear said that two years ago, he knew there would be huge value that could be unlocked by building products that bring together Amazon and Twitch, which was nearly acquired by Google before Amazon paid $1 billion to purchase the company.

“We had this huge population of some of the most dedicated gamers in the world, and Amazon is the center of shopping and increasingly all kinds of media and hardware,” he said. “We thought there had to be a way to connect these two things. It’s so obvious.”

Twitch and Amazon at PAX West in Seattle.
Twitch and Amazon at PAX West in Seattle.

Though Twitch is owned by Amazon and now gets to use products like Amazon Web Services, Shear said that his company is still run “very separately from the rest of Amazon.” He did note that he’s noticed how Amazon is run differently from any other tech giant.

Twitch booth at PAX West 2016“It feels like a collection of young, scrappy startups loosely held together,” he said. “It’s the idea of leaders who should be single-threaded and should be able to own their entire area.”

Asked about recent reports detailing Amazon’s move to acquire streaming rights for live sports content and whether Twitch is involved, Shear said he hadn’t even heard of that.

“One of the fascinating things working for Amazon is that it’s so big and is doing so much stuff, that this is the literally first time I’ve heard of Amazon buying those rights,” he said. “But I totally believe it and it makes total sense. I can totally see how that would fit in really well in a lot of the things Amazon is working on. But it’s news to me. It’s not my team.”

Shear addressed a number of other topics during the 20-minute chat, including how Twitch moderates its live streamers and comments from users, acquiring eSports teams, and the popularity of new verticals like social eating. He also talked about the growth of live streaming in general, noting how it’s become a “permanent part of the internet.”

“It’s not temporary and it’s not a live streaming bubble,” he said. “We’ve added live streaming to the vocabulary of the internet.”

Given that growth, should Twitch have waited a bit longer to be acquired by a company like Amazon? Shear isn’t second-guessing that decision.

“Amazon has been a spectacular home for Twitch,” he explained. “If we held out longer, could we have made more money? It could have been likely. The space is continuing to get hotter and is seeing growth. The problem is, there’s also this chance that everyone would go build their own and we may have been undercapitalized compared to the competition and we would have struggled and not had as good of an outcome.

“That’s one of those things where it’s easy to second guess your decision,” he continued. “But all I can do is look back at where we are today and say, well, it worked out really well for me, for the rest of the team, for our employees, and it’s working out well for Amazon. I feel really good about it. I think we made the right decision.”

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