Press Release: San Francisco venture capital firm was the original investor in the company that Amazon acquired today in a significant strategic move.
Alsop Louie Partners Led the Original Investment in Twitch Interactive Inc.
San Francisco venture capital firm was the original investor in the company that Amazon acquired today in a significant strategic move.
Friday, August 22, 2014 — Twitch Interactive Inc., acquired by Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) for more than $1 billion dollars, was originally known as Justin.tv Inc. when it launched in 2007.
Twitch is a live streaming video platform that allows gamers to gather every month to broadcast, watch and talk about video games. From inception inside Justin.tv in 2011 to acquisition today the company has grown rapidly to attracting more than 55 million unique visitors last month alongside significant advertising and subscription revenues. (More information about the company and the transaction can be found here: URL TK.)
The beginnings of the company were less auspicious. Four young men, three recent graduates of Yale University and one dropout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology started Justin.tv in an apartment in the Mission district of San Francisco. After attending the second class of Y Combinator companies in 2006, the company introduced its first product: Lifecasting. Co-founder Justin Kan broadcast his life 24 hours, 7 days a week wearing a backpack containing a notebook computer and several cellular modems along with a head-mounted video camera. Justin lead a typical tech founders life in San Francisco, but tens of thousands of people began watching his lifecast, to the degree that his was one of the first live video sites to “go viral”. That was in 2007.
Alsop Louie Partner’s UC Berkeley associate, Corey Reese, visited the company’s apartment and decided that this represented the future of television. He quickly persuaded both Gilman Louie and then Stewart Alsop to meet with the company. The partners weren’t sure it was the future of television, but they did see that, behind the scenes, four very smart young men were developing a platform for broadcasting live video over the internet, a novel idea at the time. The firm offered to lead the company’s first round of institutional financing, which closed in July, 2007, and Stewart Alsop joined the company’s board of directors. The firm has since followed on in four subsequent rounds of financing before the acquisition was announced today, during which time Alsop Louie Partners partner Jim Whims, became an observer of the board of directors. Whims has a long career in consumer electronics, including Sony Computer Entertainment, THQ, Synaptics and Software Toolworks.
Throughout the company’s development, Alsop Louie Partners worked closely with the founders, first to establish the live-streaming platform as a profitable company and then, when co-founder Emmett Shear proposed focusing on video gaming as a specific effort, transforming the company into Twitch Interactive, which eclipsed the early success of Justin.tv Inc. in a matter of less than 24 months.
Along the way, former Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel lead the spinout of a new company called Socialcam Inc. from Justin.tv. With Michael as CEO, Socialcam achieved rapid success and was sold to Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) in July, 2012 for $60M. Justin.tv co-founder Emmett Shear, former CTO, was appointed CEO and lead Twitch to its remarkable growth as the dominant live-streaming platform and gathering place for the millennial generation.
“I am very proud of the team at Twitch and the vision and leadership of its CEO, Emmett Shear, for having the foresight that combining live interactive video with the expansive world of video games would be the social media platform of the millennial generation,” said Stewart Alsop.
Alsop Louie Partners is a technology-focused, early-stage venture capital firm based in San Francisco, CA. The other major investors in Twitch Interactive Inc. include: Draper Associates, Bessemer Venture Partners, Thrive Capital, WestSummit Capital and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO).