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Amazon Twitch snatch catches Google the gobbler off guard

Level up! Bezos in $970m game stream punt

Photo of a stack of $100 bills

Amazon has confirmed its purchase of Twitch, the pose-streaming startup beloved of gamers, in a $970m deal which appears to confirm that video gaming is a spectator sport as well as a participatory one.

"Today, I'm pleased to announce we've been acquired by Amazon. We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster," said Twitch's CEO Emmett Shear.

"We're keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon's support we'll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch."

Twitch started out three years ago as a place for PC and console gamers to stream their gameplay online. Narcissistic it may sound, but it's popular and the site has more than 50 million unique monthly users.

Last month it was reported that the firm had agreed a buy-out deal with Google for $1bn that would see the streaming firm be absorbed by YouTube. While that deal would have been a good fit for Google, Amazon obviously wanted the deal more (it's also rumored that Google was worried about antitrust issues.)

"Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

"Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community."

So what will Bezos and Co do with its latest purchase that makes Twitch worth that much money?

Gaming is going to be increasingly key to expanding Amazon's empire. The firm bought gaming studio Double Helix in February and games are the key selling point behind its Fire TV set-top box. Getting the committed viewers of Twitch for that device would be very useful for furthering Amazon's gaming ambitions.

Twitch also gives Amazon a dedicated community of gamers – tech buyers willing to pay top dollar for the latest hardware and software, which Amazon will be happy to provide them.

And so ends another Silicon Valley fairy tale, from zero to about one Instagram in value in three years. ®

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