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Justin Kan ’05, Emmett Shear ’05: billion dollar men

Would you pay to watch video of other people playing video games?

If you said “yes,” you undoubtedly knew about Twitch before this week. Otherwise, you might be among those who were astounded to learn that Amazon bought the three-year-old gaming platform, cofounded by Justin Kan ’05 and Emmett Shear ’05, for a billion dollars, give or take $100 million. 

Although Twitch’s livestreamed gaming “is still in its developing stages,” it reaches about 55 million unique viewers a month, each of whom watches an average of 106 minutes a day, the tech website CNET reports.

What’s more, about a million people stream video of themselves gaming on Twitch, and the popular ones can charge for ads or subscriptions.

“We’ve created a whole new kind of career that lets people make a living sharing their love of games,” Shear, the Twitch CEO, wrote in announcing the deal on August 25.

“Playing video games started with single player gaming, then came multiplayer, now there's Twitch,” an Amazon VP said in a statement, calling it “a service that gamers and game broadcasters now find hard to live without.”

The $1.1 billion deal—$970 million in cash, plus stock—is among the largest in Amazon history, according to Inc.

Twitch is an offshoot of, which Kan and Shear cofounded in 2007 with another Yale classmate, Michael Seibel ’05. In 2011 they spun off the video-sharing app SocialCam with Seibel as CEO, then sold it the next year for $60 million., which began with Kan strapping a webcam to his head and livestreaming his life, shut down on Monday. Kan is a member of Twitch’s board.

“The moment we launched, we knew we had stumbled across something special,” Shear wrote in his Letter from the CEO on Monday. “But what followed surprised us as much as anyone else.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under video games, Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel
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