Amazon really aren't on the radar round here nearly as much as they should be. As some in this thread have pointed out their strategy is to spend absolutely all income on slightly out there R&D, which in the case of things like their web services wildly over return.
Just because they aren't based in the valley and make Apple look positively liberal when it comes to secrecy and working practices doesn't mean they should be ignored. Quite honestly I think they're the single most terrifying company in the US today, an idea Bezos would take as a compliment.
The big picture is they are gunning to become the universal middle men for when people actually spend money on the net. Google only have the ad side of things together, but never really cracked getting end users to open their wallets, yet Amazon are in the position of starting in front of users, and slowly moving themselves into being the background glue between everything else, facilitating transactions between everyone while taking their cut and enforcing their rules. Terrifying, and brilliant.
I wish they'd try harder with their payments business - they could be in a position to compete with Stripe or Paypal but instead force users to pay with their Amazon accounts. That doesn't make sense as a business strategy to me.
Square is primarily focused on working with brick & mortar vendors to accept physical credit card payments. Stripe and Paypal are solutions for individuals, businesses, and retailers to accept payments online. I think iLoch was suggesting Amazon should compete on the latter front.
Is Square not doing well? I've actually been seeing it a lot more recently -- lots of food carts and street vendors do the iPad-and-cardreader setup, and I've seen a number of the POS systems in coffee shops and the like. I've also noticed cab drivers using it.
I'm not seeing people use it for splitting bills and the like as much, but I got the impression Square was making a conscious shift away from that market and toward small brick-and-mortar (or truck-and-van?) businesses.
Square reached too high a valuation off of low value business with merchants. They have burned through staggering amounts of cash, canceled high profiled products, and purchased payment-unrelated startups and made other changes. The high valuation they've had in funding rounds makes them an unattractive purchase because the business they have isn't worth what it would cost. To get new money they'd have to do something like foursquare did to raise money, which dilutes everyone's current equity to very little.
They probably can turn it into some kind of business but the growth has stalled, the equity employees have is at risk and they've all but lost the sparkle that excites the press when they talk about the company. They could gain momentum back, it's not impossible, and they have really, really good engineers and designers so that's a plus.
I don't believe this. Looking up recent "Square should panic" articles , it seems they have about $350M cash on $100M/year losses, so roughly 3.5 years of runway left.
The key point about Square's business is that they're in a new market. Their primary users are small businesses that would not otherwise be able to accept credit cards. I just bought a bottle of vodka directly from a distillery using Square: they had no cash register, no front office, you walk up to the door and the guys who run it will sell you a bottle on an iPad. Last Christmas, I bought our Christmas tree directly from a family-owned tree farm in the Santa Cruz mountains using Square. I paid for Maker Faire with Square.
If you follow Steve Blank's Lean Startup thought process, new markets take an average of 7 years to reach profitability. It's not just a matter of convincing customers to switch; you have to wait for people to enter the new lines of business that you have made possible. That's finally starting to happen for Square: I see people on HN down on it, but I talk to their actual customers, the ones who pay money for it, and they are all very happy with it.
> If you follow Steve Blank's Lean Startup thought process
I know an engineer who works at Square, they are not a lean startup, they have all the various excesses that people love to hate which is expensive catering, free shit, expensive furnishings. Square is not lean, and when you're losing $100,000,000 a year, I don't care if you're an ancient business like Ford or IBM, that's not good, and you wont have 7 years to reach profitability profitability, you got about half that, if you don't hire anymore. If Square stops hiring, that's also not good. They're going to have to let people go, like their recruiting operation, which is world class.
I'm pretty familiar with the lean methodology and I'm a bit confused how you could use it to scale up to 100MM/year losses. If they had a repeatable and scalable business model, surely they should either (1) be making money or (2) have that 100MM/year make them tremendous money fairly quickly (as they scaled up so soon, clearly the got the evidence of profit very quickly, which should mean a one or two year turnaround on investment, tops, given their timeline?). Clearly this isn't happening, as far as I can tell, because they're still losing money.
Your point about lean and cheap is fair but a bit confusing in context.
It's really easy to scale up to large losses: hire more people. Which is what Square's been doing in spades. Amazon did this as well, they went public in 1997 on huge losses and didn't break even until 2003, and even now the company is basically run at break-even with all revenues reinvested into the company.
The reason this works is because once you have that repeatable and scalable business model, you can be fairly sure that hiring a person (plus all the other operational costs) at $X will bring in >$X in new business. So you spend money for growth; the expenses are booked this year, the revenue doesn't happen until next year when contracts are inked, product improvements are launched, more people hear about Square, etc. The number to pay attention to is gross margins (the amount of money they make off each transaction); the 2nd article I linked lists that at 34%, which is comparable to Amazon's 30% and Apple's 39%. As long as that is positive and high enough to cover fixed operational costs, Square can instantly get to profitability by laying off people (or, with current revenue growth, simply by slowing down hiring).
The risk with this strategy is that the market turns out to be smaller than expected, and your product appeals only to a small number of early adopters. Growth then slows down markedly right as expenses ramp up, and there's no way to jump-start growth again. I think this is what's happened with Quora. Square seems different, though: the customers I've talked to are decidedly non-technical, and yet they love the product.
They're not as secretive as Apple. We use AWS and I'm often talking to our account manager or support, and they're always talking about upcoming products and features in the pipeline. They just don't give ETAs, which is sensible, to ensure customers aren't banking on feature X being available on date Y.
They also advertise some of their working practices when it benefits them (eg datacentre physical staff don't have logical access), but to be honest, there aren't a lot of big companies out there that openly advertise their internal processes. They're also being extremely open about wanting to be The Middle Man when it comes to cloud, nothing stealthy about it at all. I just went to a free AWS summit, where the VP giving the keynote said as much - how is it possible to accuse them of secrecy when they paid for a big venue for me to visit, just in order to tell me exactly that factoid?
They are worth watching due to monopolistic concerns, sure, but there's so much FUD out there about them.
Amazon is in many ways a more interesting company than google. Amazon's offerings are becoming more and more diversified and they're industry leaders in more than one area. And they are making a strong push at maintaining growth/expansion.
Amazon has a strong history of expanding their business and building new highly valuable products with staying power. Google has only expanded a little in terms of actual functional products, most of their additions have been via acquisitions, and they have not done well at monetizing or even supporting many of their new product offerings. Google is primarily search + backbone ISP, that's where almost all of their revenue comes from, everything else falls into a tiny "other" category. Indicative of their utter inability to effectively spinoff new products and high revenue businesses.
The only downside is that the work environment is more than a little dysfunctional.
I wouldn't say gmail, maps, chrome, docs, calendar indicate 'their utter inability to effectively spinoff new products.' Also, buying a product doesn't mean you're done with it. I personally think what the folks at Android, Youtube and Nest etc have been doing is incredible.
How many of those are actually well monetized? Almost none. How many of them contribute a major portion of revenue back to the company? Absolutely none of them.
Google is good at launching products, they're not good at maturing them. Chrome is a fantastic piece of software, and it fulfills it's purpose for google quite well, but it's not a product in the way that AWS or the kindle is a product.
Google is good at development, excellent in fact. But they get stuck in the hard middle parts of product development. They fail to monetize products well and they fail to mature products into their full potential. Partly that's because product development at google is basically just play-time. As I said, revenue for google derives from a tiny subset of products (search and network almost exclusively), everything else is just a side project. As such, when a product doesn't meet its potential or doesn't bring in billions in revenue that is not an issue at all at google, it's the expected case. In some ways that's good, but in other ways it's bad. Docs/drive has stagnated relative to what it could have been for years.
Amazon is almost diametrically opposite. They productize well, extremely well, but they have a horrid working environment in regard to devs.
There's truth in this. Generally, I search for part numbers on google or rockauto, and then you can find them on amazon. The UX for finding parts that fit your car on amazon is either confusing or broken, I'm not sure which.
Both. This may because of the existing parts distribution system already in place. It doesn't see to be a place they have been putting much effort into. There wasn't even auto part search until recently.
Last I checked, it's impossible to do a useful "sort by price" for many items. I was looking for...I think it was a 3.5mm audio splitter, and I wanted to find the cheapest one. Searching by relevance mostly returned 3.5mm audio splitters, but dozens and dozens in no particular order. Searching by price returned every single thing in the database with "splitter," "audio," or "3.5mm" in the name or description. Frustrating.
I tried to reproduce this result. After searching "Nexus 7 bluetooth keyboard case", I got a page full of relevant results. I could get to a page full of awful results by first selecting a department, then sorting by average rating.
Twitch is not going to be another YouTube success story. There just aren't enough great uses for live streaming yet and video game streaming is very far from being mainstream. Twitch obviously can't believe it's very close to reaching NFL-like status either or it wouldn't sell for a mere billion and change.
Amazon or Google will piss off or drive away the Twitch user base. The users will all move to Hitbox.tv or any number of new sites that will pop up. It's easy to do live streaming, it's just expensive. This acquisition will bring funding and Yahoo will buy the next popular live streaming site.
I agree. When you look at companies like Major League Gaming who are becoming not only tournament hosts, but providers for online competition AND streaming you can't help but ask how popular gaming will become. MLG is already working with a developer in China to bring a video game arena/stadium to Hengqin Island.
A stadium. For video games.
The barrier to entry is just so much lower for video games when compared to professional sports - nearly anyone can play and get good enough to compete against the pros without even leaving their house. Personally I prefer "real" sports over their virtual counterparts, but millions of people disagree with me - and that number will only continue to grow. I think eSports are going to grow dramatically over the next 5 years.
the thing is people are always building stadiums, large and small for things. its whether the sport actually sticks. arena football, minor league football, the tampa bay devil rays, many many olympic stadiums, on and on it goes. In the end a stadium is a building.
I guess I'm too old to "get it". Why is watching other people play video games fun? I've been a gamer since the mid 80's and I don't see the appeal. Maybe if they hosted the Official Video Game Olympics or something, that might be cool.
But just watching someone else play Fallout 3? Talk about a lack of immersion. I don't get it...
The reasons why people watch other people play video games are several:
1. People like to see someone of a very high level play a game that they too play.
2. You often get to see someone playing a game that you never heard about. For instance: The recent speed running marathon streams have showed a lot of obscure and old games.
3. And most important: People are entertained by the commentary from the streamer.
If you just run a game with no commentary you will be hard pressed to get any viewers. It is more that with the younger generation games have become a huge part of culture and to see someone playing games you play as well and chatting give the viewer a social experience. There is chat too and the streamers often address people in chat. If you look at the most popular personalities on YouTube many of them are gaming related. People spend a lot of time playing today's very immersive, social, and large scale games so it follows that they can be entertained by personalities involved with them.
You're not the only one... a friend of me who works in the IT department for a big IT company says about 20% of their daily network traffic goes to Twitch nowadays. It's a bit ridiculous if you think about it but he said he has many colleagues who have a stream open on the background of one of their screens.
I think a cross between #1 and #3 is easily the lion's share of viewership, especially if the game is difficult and almost antagonistic toward the player. I'm reminded of the Youtube videos posted some years ago by ProtonJon of his Super Mario World ROM hack play-throughs. I'd never personally play them, but it's easy to get an almost schadenfreude-level of enjoyment out of watching someone else suffer through a game that's extremely punishing. The same easily applies to other games that most people wouldn't ordinarily play for a variety of reasons (too old, as in your example, or perhaps too frightening e.g. Amnesia--that one made the hair on my neck stand up).
Well 99% of the views come from competitive games being played online. For example, there are less than 40 people watching Fallout 3 as I type this, but over 120,000 watching League of Legends. So you're right to not get it, because that's not really something people do.
When players do watch a streamer play a single player game, it's usually because the game has recently been released, and they want to make an opinion on whether or not they should buy it. Or because they enjoy the streamer's personality and commentary. They're not watching Fallout 3, they're watching TotalBiscuit play Fallout 3.
Generally it's watching people play online games, not single player ones like Fallout. And usually the top streamers are very highly ranked in their respective games. A viewer gets a chance to learn things, root for someone they like, and maybe have aspirations of their own.
Think of it this way: imagine if Kasparov and Fisher live streamed all of their chess practice, informal competition, and formal competition. Odds are chess fans would line up to watch.
It's just like that, but with strategic online games instead of strategic board games.
Also, some of the streamers are practically comedians, so they sometimes watch for general comedy and enjoyment as well. Or a mix.
Chess, like the so called "video games" being streamed, ought to be called a sport. Some people who don't know the distinction between a single player game (ala tombraider) and e-sport is not going to be able to comment nor appreciate the power of streaming.
> Chess, like the so called "video games" being streamed, ought to be called a sport.
Other way around, I think. Competitive video games ought to be called "competitive games," like chess. The whole "e-sport" label is stupid: "sport" has always meant a primarily physical competition, and competitive games of the sitting-down type--chess, checkers, Go, Scrabble, etc.--have been their own thing, with leagues and tournaments and titles, for decades or centuries before video games came around. Video games are more dependent on quick thinking and reflexes, but they're still primarily mental competition--see also speed chess, etc.
But competitive video gamers are too full of themselves to be happy rubbing shoulders with something as unhip as chess. They insist that they deserve the same (arguably equally undeserved) acclaim and money and fandom as sports, so they keep pushing the "e-sports" label and all the associated silly trappings and theatrics. After two decades of fruitless flailing, it seems like it might finally be about to stick, more's the pity.
> Maybe if they hosted the Official Video Game Olympics or something
I think it's just like any physical sport - having knowledge about a game and watching someone skilled play is interesting. People watch to learn and get better at something they find interesting. That said, watching someone play Fallout definitely isn't what gamers think of when you mention "eSports" - generally eSports refers to some level of competition, which is why real time strategy games and first person shooters are so popular - both require a lot of skill and knowledge of the game to be good at.
Getting back to the "Official Video Game Olympics" - there are actually some pretty serious competitions out there. Certain game developers have been known to self-host their own tournaments for millions of dollars in prizes (League of Legends and Call of Duty being two examples). There's also plenty of companies making a profitable business out of running these tournaments: ESL in Europe and Major League Gaming in the US being two of the bigger names out there right now. So in fact, the competition and prizes are very real, so anyone interested in a game may be interested in seeing who's going to win $1,000,000.
Additionally (and anecdotally my own experience): I don't really have time to play games much anymore, but I do have time to spend 30 minutes here and there watching someone play something.
It's nice that I don't have to invest the time it takes to get up to speed to know what's going on if the commentary's good -- and it's a solid, mindless contrast to TV for me (which has been phenomenally engaging lately. it's impossible to read emails and watch house of cards, which isn't true for game streaming :D)
http://www.twitch.tv/cohhcarnage is a rather family friendly variety streamer. Be aware, though, that he does stream 18+ from time to time(he'll make it known in the title, though).
http://www.twitch.tv/giantwaffle is primarily a minecraft streamer, and he generally doesnt curse and explains what hes doing. Beware, he does do nightstreams with Lirik, including cussing. He'll announce these, though.
A couple of things, one my kids like to hang out and watch me play, it was entertaining for them and they enjoyed seeing their dad get smashed by the monster. And second, for games like World of Warcraft where there difficult engagements with high level enemies (boss fights) it really helped to watch not one but several folks do the fight first before you could effectively participate.
What I find astonishing are Youtube "clip shows" on cable channels. These are "shows" where the hosts screen videos they found on Youtube and talk about them or rip them apart. I don['t get the appeal but apparently they fill the air time. Something which was a curated set of videos about a particular video game might actually have appeal to me, either from a shopping (I wonder if I would like it) to a mastery (I wonder what other people do at that stage) kind of thing. Not saying it would make money but I would be tempted to watch it. Some of the Eve commentary would make for an excellent show as well.
 - Blizzard however is doing what they can to make it unnecessary much to the demise of the 'fun' aspect.
Most people watch big tournaments and/or high level competitive players (LoL, Dota2, cs:go, SC2). LoL and Dota2 run tournaments with prize money in the millions and the competing teams are fulltime players that live together and have coaches and sponsors, etc.
Imagine Messi (or some American star athlete, eg. LeBron) streaming his training via a GoPro. Fans would be very interested.
Single player / non-competitive games (such as your example, Fallout 3) are indeed much less exciting and get less viewers. There are also streamers that aren't very good at playing anything, but they're entertaining in one way or another and have built up a following that just watched them play whatever.
First of all, successful streamers tend to have entertaining personalities (at least their audience thinks so). Other than that, I think there are a few main reasons why people like it.
1. Sometimes you just want to veg out and watch something, not be an active participant. You can enjoy the game without putting in any effort.
2. There's a community aspect to it. In a single-player game like Fallout you get to see someone else enjoying and talking about what you enjoy, and you can interact with others who share the same interests.
3. Many of the people who stream are really good players. Almost no one reaches that level of play so for most people watching a streamer is the only way to experience it. They can also offer insights and help make you a better player.
It is kind of weird and not traditional... but it does make sense to a young'n like me.
I never understood how people could watch soccer/football and not get bored to death until the rise of esports. Now I often watch the league games for my favorite team and most of the world championship games.
I wouldn't watch someone else play Fallout 3, but I like watching people play competitive games like Hearthstone and SC2 because I feel like it makes me a better player. In the case of Hearthstone, the difference between watching and playing is minimal - it's basically the same if the streamer makes the play you would, and if not then you learn something (or, occasionally, get to feel clever because they didn't see your superior play).
Ha! I've got an 8-yr-old daughter that loves making gameplay videos. "Hi, my name is Isa, I'm 8, today I'm going to show you how I make this thing with Lego"... this year alone, she's recorded about 40GB of such videos. Sometimes she watches similar videos online.
I don't really get it, but she came up with the idea and started doing it by herself. There must be some sort of attraction to this thing.
The most watchable games are competitive multiplayer ones, e.g. starcraft, league of legends, dota. It's probably not very appealing to a non-gaming person, but the same can be said about baseball; I don't know rules and I'm pretty sure I won't understand anything going on in the field.
I watch some singleplayer streams mostly for the entertainment value. Just watching someone play isn't very fun, but some streamers have funny commentary and play the game is weird ways.
It's not very fun watching someone play Fallout, but it's entertaining watching someone play Fallout role-playing as a homicidal maniac that uses nothing but his bare fists. The sheer difficulty is impressive, and if coupled with a talent for presentation/humor it can be a pretty fun time.
This is a good idea for a stream unless someone is already doing it. I remember people doing hard runs of games like that, beating the whole game without any weapons etc. I'd definitely watch that if I'm interested in the game already.
Any real sport or just the ones you know? For example, baseball is really popular in the US but most people where I'm from would have a hard time watching it if you tried to pay them to: we don't know the rules of the game very well, we understand the strategies the teams use, we can't tell an exciting play from a boring one, etc.
With video games its a bit similar. If you played the game or something similar before you can appreciate whats going on but otherwise you will be completely lost and everything feels pointless.
Depends on your definition of mainstream. I know some huge games like League of Legends, DOTA2, and Starcraft routinely do 6 figure concurrent viewer counts for tourneys. That is higher than a lot of TV. I personally have had 8,000 live viewers.
NFL like status is not attainable so lets not say that this is the business plan. Yes the users can move somewhere else, but for gaming twitch is the de facto site for streaming right now. There has been talk of switching sites whenever some streamers get aggravated but it would have to be a huge failure to have people switch en masse.
It is also not easy to do live streaming. It uses massive amounts of bandwidth, and you have to keep this going live to people all over the world. Twitch is the YouTube of video game streaming at the moment and it would be hard to unseat them.
I stream primarily fighting games (Street Fighter) which is a much smaller audience than the games I mentioned, but EVO world championships does over 130k live viewers every July. EVO is the largest tournament in Fighting games. Our demographic is very young, and we have a lot of serious fans that have actually come to our location from far away to play with us.
Keep in mind these are concurrent video viewers over the course of many hours. If you take video plays like Youtube does it measures in the many millions for a tournament like EVO.
I think your underestimating the potential of game streaming. Twitch might be a seemingly impossible distance from reaching NFL-like numbers on a single stream, but what about 1% of that audience on 100 streams? or 500 streams? They don't even need to have that, because twitch is streaming 24/7. Everyone will see a few YouTube videos a week, maybe even a few a day, but Twitch users will watch a stream for HOURS.
I completely agree. I'm not huge into watching streaming but I'll be more likely to stay watching a stream for a lot longer than a YouTube video. Which for advertising purposes. They have more opportunities for either on page ads or intermittent ads between rounds/matches. Combined with the fact that most streaming. You develop more interest and involvement with a player or players.
I don't care about a random keyboard or video card advertisement. But what keyboard or video card your favorite streamer is using seem like a far more valuable ad to pursue. The NFL and others have a lot of branding. And merchandising among teams. YouTube can't get people to buy shirts or random things of random funny fading videos. But I think it'd be a lot more likely for many to buy something relateded to longer term Fandom
I'll preface this by saying that I do believe esports will be the biggest international competition after soccer/football. I do agree that twitch won't be the end all be all in live streaming games. The barrier is very low and I think in a growing market, a company under amazon or google can't flourish.. where a startup that leaner and more in touch with trends could easily come out and compete.
What good is "integrating" acquisitions? Users don't care about your org chart.
Amazon could clone Twitch fairly easily (bandwidth is the limiting factor and Amazon happens to have gobs of it), but they still bought the Twitch brand. It would be a ridiculous waste to throw that in the trash.
I think the integration is pretty good, personally. I mostly listen to books these days, and it's usually Audible books purchased through the Amazon site.
Audiobooks (both Audible and physical CDs) are listed side-by-side other types of book media on Amazon.com. To pick a random example, if you look up Steel World by BV Larson: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FCXPC94/ - you'll see the paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible audio edition, and sometimes others.
Some titles have "Whispersync for Voice", which I think is an impressive type of integration. With those titles, you can sync your progress between the Audible and Kindle formats, so that you don't lose progress when switching from reading to listening. Additionally, when you own one format, the price of the other format drops substantially (if I recall, usually to a few dollars). I count that as a deep and sophisticated type of integration between the Kindle store and Audible.
Whether I visit the Amazon.com site or Audible depends on my motivation. If I want to find a good book, and I'm willing to either read or listen, then I'll hit Amazon. If I'm looking specifically for an audiobook, I'll hit Audible. Also, I think the Audible site might have been redone since you've last seen it. The home page doesn't look like what was around before the acquisition. I see a modern, Amazon-style product grid on audible.com when logged in. It's also integrating content from Amazon such as "Based on your Amazon and Kindle book purchases, we think you'll enjoy...". The Audible site to me looks like a curated window into Amazon.com now.
Twitch will more easily move to deliver IPTV broadcast of events to the cable-cutting netflix crowd than traditional media. I would be happy to bet long on them.
I mean we already see the start of it with YouTube broadcasting Coachella, etc. More recently, Twitch has been used to stream gaming-related real life stuff, like the Dota 2 International 4 after-party DJ set. Conversely, the big media conglomorates are still wrestling with how to deliver content online and most just mirror your cable subscription to your device, rather than offer IP-exclusive methods of delivery.
I don't think Amazon is the best fit for Twitch - I personally would've preferred some company who is in the entertainment industry and more willing to start breaching into broadcasting live concerts, sport, big events, etc. on it. Valve, for example, already uses Twitch pretty heavily during their events and has shown interest to move outside of gaming (they sell non-gaming software via Steam) but they're probably also not mature enough to really start becoming a fully-fledged media company either. I don't really know of one company who is ideal in that space.
That said, I don't think Amazon is the worst either. It'll be intersting to see how they take it.
Amazon is a pretty good fit for Twitch. Why? 1) Digital distribution is becoming the norm for video games. Amazon already sells physical media and purchase codes for many game platforms. It's a tie-in to sell product. 2) Amazon is breaking into ad serving to go head-to-head with Google and Facebook. Twitch will likely be the flagship content property for their ad network. Game publishers often spend just as much in marketing a game as they do in developing it (http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Most_expensive_video_games). Amazon stands to scoop up many millions (~100M?) in advertising revenue from the games industry alone. 3) Amazon already has a streaming delivery network whose subscription base they want to expand. If they can upsell (or merely sell) Prime to gamers, then that should supplement their ad income. 4) They already know how much it costs to run Twitch, because it's built on AWS.
The entertainment industry is notoriously short-sighted and generally parasitic when it comes to technology. It's also an industry that is extremely image conscious. Having uncontrolled/unedited content that runs counter to their image is anathema. If any game publisher or old guard broadcasting company had gotten its hands on Twitch, I strongly believe it wouldn't have gone well.
>There just aren't enough great uses for live streaming yet and video game streaming is very far from being mainstream.
You may be right, but you may be wrong. Twitch is in a similar sort of space as sports - which are the best kind of content generators (and content is king). Piracy is largely side-stepped because value is highest when it is LIVE. New content is always created by incumbents and new challengers, and there is tons of opportunity for marketing.
I don't know what the future holds, but E-Sports are here to stay. It'll only get bigger.
>Twitch obviously can't believe it's very close to reaching NFL-like status either or it wouldn't sell for a mere billion and change.
Why not? Superbowl has 100 million viewers. 200 million viewers for the total NFL season. I don't think those numbers are that impressive, when Facebook gets 800 million active users per day, on 1.3 billion active accounts and Youtube gets 4 billion views per day. In fact, NFL is pretty much done. There is only so much money you can squeeze out of North America, and nobody else cares about it.
>The users will all move to Hitbox.tv or any number of new sites that will pop up. It's easy to do live streaming, it's just expensive.
It's easy to do Youtube. It's easy to do Facebook. It's easy to do Instagram. It's easy to do WhatsApp. Now go do it and see how well you do.
You would be surprised at the viewer numbers on twitch for any given night, just random sampling can show hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Plus a lot of the people who are streaming there do links back to Amazon, Newegg, and similar, for the gear they use or want. I am curious if Amazon will put pressure on the streamers to limit links to non Amazon sites for goods.
Plus with private streams its entirely possible they may leverage it into a webex type business.
Worth pointing out that's a lot of money -- if it becomes a large cultural force, they'll still get credit, if there's more money on the table... some people don't care about the difference in numbers that huge. So this takes a lot of variability off the table at a fairly marginal cost (no second giant yacht, etc).
You could have said all the same things about YouTube when they got acquired. It sold for around the same amount of money, it wasn't at all clear that online video was going to become mainstream, there were massive copyright issues, existing competitors, and it turned out very nicely for them.
Months of rumors, which no doubt corresponded to ongoing negotiations, and then about a month ago a single VentureBeat reporter claimed a final deal was "confirmed" by anonymous sources. A lot of people were skeptical of a single unsourced claim, and seemingly rightly so.
"Before, we had only off-the-record reports from possibly-official sources that something might be happening. Now, we have off-the-record reports from definitively official sources that something might be happening. But we can't, y'know, prove that."
There was no actual press release from either. All the 'confirmations' were just. Just the other week someone from Twitch was on HN and said he was unable to comment on any possible future acquisitions.
I think this makes sense for Amazon for two reasons:
1) One of the barriers to entry of live-streaming sites is the expensive hosting costs. With AWS infrastructure, Amazon could potentially have another competitive advantage over other live-streaming sites. They may even provide a better service through higher resolution streaming as they wouldn't be as constrained with bandwidth costs.
2) As Amazon enters the online advertising space to compete with Google Adwords and Adsense, they'll want to own web properties with high impressions for their display ads. User based video creation is great for that but comes with risk for copyright violations. Twitch solves both these issues as it'll give display ads high impressions without much concern about copyright violations as these will mostly be legit user-originated content.
It is also good for the market to have two larger game channels (youtube and twitch, yes there are Everyplay, hitbox and there will be more now this deal happened).
Amazon is really hands-off with acquisitions for the most part such as Zappos and Audible. They primarily add to the offerings by cheaper fulfillment or server/bandwidth/cpu costs and more. I think they will treat twitch better than if it was just integrated into youtube.
Also, it shows a dedication to game developers and supporting marketing of games on their platforms and others. Amazon buying them is actually better for Twitch and the gaming/let's play type new marketing channels.
A streamer also mentioned that recently Twitch send out an enquiry to partners about what kind of affiliation programs they would be interested in. My bet would be that Amazons angle is going to be integration of their storefront and other services into Twitch in the form of affiliate programs ("Buy this game now"-buttons, adding Twitch Turbo to Amazon Prime and the likes).
I wouldn't even be surprised if down the road they'd announce a Steam-like digital distribution thingymagick. Steam and it's competitors are rolling in cash and have been getting quite some flack recently so now might be the best time.
And while their storefront is adequate, their delivery and update systems are abysmal. Steam hasn't won mindshare because it JUST made it easy to buy games online, but it also made it easy to sign into an account, click a button and play them anywhere, and keeps your software up-to-date in the background.
EA has the only competitor that comes close, but their tarnished reputation in the gaming community has sullied the only worthwhile adversary Steam has.
I am a Twitch partner and just last week I received a survey asking me my thoughts about affiliate marketing in regards to promoting free to play games, selling games, and relate peripherals. Seems timely now.
Valve has no need for adding on a hugely expensive live streaming site. Steam has very little serious and threatening competition and their own IPs (Dota and CS) are raking in cash along side their marketplace. They are doing well now and don't have the same stock holder expectations for growth as a public company would.
Good point. From a niche advertiser's point of view, this is better than regular TV. TV shows have product placement, but rarely revolve entirely around a product. But every "Let's Play" on Twitch is, on one level, an extended, entertaining commercial e.g. an infomercial. Which would make Twitch a massively interactive 24/7 infomercial, like QVC for gamers. To the eyes of Amazon, the internet's store for everything, that must be very attractive. It also raises the question of whether you could have a Twitch for other categories i.e. a 24/7 niche infomercial network that people actually want to watch.
I'm not so sure that would be very viable. Right now, the top 4 most viewed games on Twitch are LoL, CS, Dota and Hearthstone, none of which can be bought on Amazon. Additionally, 3 of them are free-to-play.
It's definitely worth checking out. I've been using Amazon Prime Video as much as Netflix the past year or so. Probably more, actually, because of the ability to rent/buy movies that aren't available on Netflix or Amazon's free video selection (which doesn't seem to be far off from Netflix now).
I am using Amazon Music right now to listen to my music library. Recently, they made available every disc I have every purchases on Amazon available on the cloud. They are also making lots of additional discs available through Prime streaming.
I also use Amazon Fire TV to watch television shows and movies. May are included with a Prime subscription, others can be rented or purchased. My impression is that Amazon's compression and overall performance is better than NetFlix and Hulu Plus.
I went back to cable last year after years of Netflix/Hulu for my tv needs (there isn't a better option than Comcast for ISP and the Internet + Cable + HBO deal was more or less the same I was paying for Internet + Netflix/Hulu + TiVo), and Prime video has been a pretty adequate replacement for a lot of what I had been using Netflix to watch (which, honestly, is primarily children's programming, so your mileage may vary).
Doctor Who. That's the only reason I use Amazon Prime Instant Video. I like Prime for the shipping and the no-extra-cost Kindle books, but with the Instant Video, I just use it to watch the back catalog of Doctor Who.
Although the HBO content is tempting, and we do use it to watch Under the Dome as well.
A statement of fact is not really a perspective. You just said you paid for prime but don't use prime video but forgot to say WHY. Now you have, but your original post was seriously lacking.
For all we know you didn't use Prime Video because of any number of reasons, you had satellite internet, it didn't work right, you didn't like their content catalogue, you can't get the video in the right rooms, you didn't know it existed, et al.
Rule 1 about online discussions is: People can only read what you actually send. Not read your mind. Your post was vague and pointless and added nothing to the thread until you further clarified AFTER I asked you to.
Well they've been given a pass for approximately 18 out of their 20 year existence, split into two segments of time.
There was a two year period of time after the dotcom crash was over where they were beaten on pretty heavily about the lack of profitability.
It really doesn't matter if investors beat the drums frankly. Bezos controls enough of Amazon's stock - roughly three times the next largest investor - it would be difficult to spar with him, short of the stock truly plunging (something like a 75% drop from here might do it). The Bezos family controls roughly as much stock as the next five largest owners combined.
The correct answer is: so long as Amazon's sales continue to grow at ... 15% to 25% per year, and the losses do not become life threatening again, the drums will never get loud enough to disrupt what Bezos wants to do.
I expect with a $100b +/- market cap, Amazon can continue to function without much external concern for quite some time. $100b or so mostly keeps them out of range of someone trying to buy them, and will enable continued acquisitions as needed, while not bashing shareholders too much on the downside such that everyone turns against Bezos. I see no reason they can't maintain that perpetually with zero profits, if sales continue to grow, given the sales scale they're likely to reach in the next decade. They will be given a serious sales multiple so long as sales keep growing relatively quickly. Investors will focus on that and be placated by the kool-aid. When sales growth stops, investors will shift to demanding profits and dividends.
There would have to be some catastrophic setbacks, big losses, and a pause in sales growth, to force Bezos into changing his approach. I suspect at that point he would step aside and become just chairman.
However, keep in mind, Amazon would love to have a cash cow. They'd love nothing more than to print up $4 billion per year in profit from the fire phone, or from their new advertising initiative. So they can show profits, boom the stock, and perpetually run a tight margin business everywhere else.
I think you have it all right except for the end. If Amazon made an extra 4 billion dollars a year they would use it to attempt to dominate yet another market. There are businesses inside the company that do make profit and they are already reinvested into longer term seed projects.
This assumes that it's game publishers where there's a copyright problem, which given the recent Twitch muting of copyrighted audio, is probably not the issue that most people are concerned about right now.
Something no-one else seems to have mentioned in response to you is avoiding monopolies. Various changes to youtube regularly piss off people uploading content to the platform, so having a competitor (twitch) gives them somewhere to run to, and competition in the video market.
Note that aside from Apple's devices, Amazon Prime video works only on Amazon's own mobile hardware.
Is this why they're buying Twitch? To make it another "Amazon Exclusive" for Fire devices? Frankly that would explain a lot. If they can lock the content down it will force people into their ecosystem if they want mobile access.
I agree. A big part of the valuation of twitch.tv is it's positioning in the market. It doesn't make sense to drastically shock that positioning while locking out a large contingent of users in the process.
If Amazon wanted a similar service to make exclusive to the Kindle ecosystem, it would make much more sense to grow one themselves with deep integration into the kindle line of products. They've done this with a lot of other products and services, and certainly have the capability.
With Twitch, it would seem to make more sense for them to continue to seek partnerships with gaming platforms so that the Twitch.tv brand is increasingly ubiquitous in gaming, and then use that as a relatively extrinsic source of growth.
I could see them locking out strategic players (hint: Google), and making certain events or content exclusive to the Kindle ecosystem, but locking everything down to Kindle doesn't strike me as a viable move.
Yes I think this is critical. You just don't buy Kindle stuff for games or you're going to be not only disappointed but at a terrible disadvantage because of the artificial lock-in. The Amazon App Store is much smaller than Play and iTunes (though improving), and the Fire TV has a very small and stagnant selection of games (and not really improving).
Might be better to say that they have locked in their streaming content to Mac, Windows, Fire OS, iOS, all game consoles of the last two generations, 541 smart TVs, Google TV, a limited selection of DVRs, receivers and Home Theatre systems, most popular Blu-Ray players, Tivo, FireTV, Roku and several other streaming media players, and they have released music but not video for Android.
So, this will change basically nothing about Twitch? I assume all of their infrastructure is already on Amazon, so probably more business as usual than having to move everything on to Google's infrastructure (which seems to usually derail product development for 3-6 months on most acquisitions).
Based on earlier reports of Justin.tv's streaming architecture, I'm going to say no.
Granted, that article is old, but I think a pretty serious investment in physical infrastructure has been made by Justin.tv/Twitch. So I'm more willing to believe they're still leveraging some variation of this architecture rather than AWS.
As mentioned, twitch is a very central part of esport community. But in the same time, it might not have enough credibility on "mainstream" startup world. I wonder if google was interested in twitch service more than twitch team.
Amazon.com Inc. has agreed to acquire Twitch, a live-streaming service for videogame players, for more than $1 billion, according to a person who has been briefed on the matter.
The deal could be announced as soon as Monday, the person said.
Google Inc. had earlier been in talks to acquire Twitch, but those talks cooled in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
Twitch, launched in June 2011, is the most popular Internet destination for watching and broadcasting videogame play. The startup raised $20 million from investors, including Thrive Capital and videogame-maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. in September.
News of the acquisition was earlier reported by tech website The Information.
This story is literally the first time I've heard of this site. Is it really popular enough to demand payment for reading the articles?
Looks like it was started on Dec. 04, 2013  and has been subscription-based from the beginning. $40/mo or $400/year seems like a lot of money... any indication that they break news before any other site?
$40/mo or $400/year seems like a lot of money... any indication that they break news before any other site?
The value prop isn't just breaking stories quicker than the next outlet, but we do happen to break a fair amount of news. For instance, we broke a story  last week that moved eBay's share price up by 4-6%. 
There's nothing wrong with it, and I'm not holding anything against them. Just wondering if anyone here is a subscriber, what their target audience is, and if it's worth a subscription at the price they're asking.
I believe the parent poster was posting an earlier version of the article. With breaking stories, news sites will sometimes post a small amount of initial information so they get the story out fast. Then, after more details are available, the article is edited to include more information.
Can we please have a rule against posting paywall links? I know we can find a cached version or search on Google or whatever, but it's still frustrating! We're not talking about work-arounds.
Imagine what our reaction will be if someone posts a link to their own blog which doesn't allow visitor to read the content without paying $1. Even if they have a work-around like you can inspect element and hide the paywall popup.
The WSJ's article isn't a summary of The Information's original story. They confirmed the report based on their own sources, which is completely legitimate even if they weren't the first ones to break the story.
In this case, linking to the WSJ article wasn't helpful or advisable, and isn't in the best interest of readers. First of all, it's paywalled, and requires a Google search as a workaround, and not every reader is aware of that.
The main issue with it is that it doesn't bode well with the requirement for original reporting. In this case, there are 4 sources of which I'm aware (The Information, WSJ, Bloomberg and Recode) who reported on this, and all of them were original reports. Even if The Information was first to press, they all conducted their reporting indepedently and the fact that four sources have the same information is very relevant. By linking to only one original report, you're depriving the average HN reader of knowledge of this journalistic consensus.
Even if the link had to be to an original report, it would make more sense to link to The Information, which is also paywalled, but was first to press. But really, I'd prefer the top HN link to be to a site like Ars Technica, which diligently compiled all the different reports.