Amazon snaps up live video startup Twitch for $970 million

Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:00pm EDT
 
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By Deepa Seetharaman and Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc snapped up live-streaming gaming network Twitch Interactive for about $970 million in cash, reflecting Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos' resolve to transform Amazon into an Internet destination beyond its core retail operations.

The move, announced by the two companies on Monday, is the largest deal in Amazon's 20-year history and will help the U.S. e-commerce company vie with Apple Inc and Google Inc in the fast-growing world of online gaming, which accounts for more than 75 percent of all mobile app sales.

The acquisition involves some retention agreements that push the deal over $1 billion, a source close to the deal told Reuters.

"Twitch will further push Amazon into the gaming community while also helping it with video and advertising," Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter said in a note.

Twitch's format, which lets viewers message players and each other during live play, is garnering interest as one of the fastest-growing segments of digital video streaming, which in turn is attracting more and more advertising dollars.

The deal, expected to close in the second half of the year, is an unusual step for Amazon, which tends to build from within or make smaller acquisitions. Tech rival Google was earlier in talks to buy Twitch, which launched slightly more than three years ago, one person briefed on the deal said.

Neither Amazon nor Twitch would discuss how the deal came together or comment on Google's interest.

In an interview, Twitch Chief Executive Officer Emmett Shear said the startup contacted Amazon because its deep pockets and ad sales expertise would allow the startup to pursue its strategic objectives more quickly.   Continued...

 
The homepage of live-streaming gaming network Twitch Interactive. REUTERS/Twitch