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Amazon's Twitch Bought Social Networking Platform Bebo for Under $ 25M to Strengthen Its Esport Efforts – TechCrunch



Although Facebook makes a bold move to crypto competition to exploit its multi-billion user base, a social network that once was a credible competitor to it has been quietly intercepted by an Amazon subsidiary. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Bebo, one of the previous platforms for letting people share thoughts and media with their friends, has been acquired by Twitch, the streaming video platform owned by Amazon. Together, the two are working to expand Twitch's esports business, and especially Twitch Rivals.

A spokesman for Twitch confirmed the acquisition, which includes both people (about 10 employees) and IP, but declined to comment further.

From what we understand from our sources, Twitch paid less than $ 25 million for the company earlier this month, having knocked out at least one other bidder, Discord (who himself has expanded his own esports business). In fact, LinkedIn profiles for ex-Bebo employees ̵

1; see here, here and here – now with Twitch notes June as the transition date. ( Note : Original sources say $ 25 million, others close to the agreement say it was significantly smaller than this.)

It has been a long and winding road to Bebo over the years. Bebo quickly began in 2005 by Michael and Xochi Birch as an early social network, and quickly became the market leader in a few English-speaking countries, especially the UK and Ireland.

Bebo's Growth Path and Greater Social Opportunities were enough to get it acquired for about $ 850 million by AOL back in 2008, apparently knocking out a number of other major technology and media companies interested in getting their own social media platform and the audience that would bring it (disclaimer: AOL eventually also acquired TechCrunch).

But the deal was a certifiable dud, with Bebo who never manages to build on his early traction, and AOL is unable to know how to solve it. Less than two years later, it was sold to Criterion Capital for $ 25 million.

But as the social wheels continued to turn, and even once global marketer MySpace also fell back as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other mobile-friendly platforms emerged, even though the $ 25 million price turned out to be too high . After Bebo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the original founders, Birches, bought it back in 2013 to $ 1 million. With a promise to reinvent it.

And then they did and introduced a small team led by Shaan Puri, who worked on a number of ideas to see which of them could fly. (And I don't know if it was a heavy kid joke about how challenging they knew the task would be, but it seems the holding company set up to house some of the investigation and legal aspects of the effort were called " pigs in flight. ")

The new app study effort, called Monkey Inferno (another big), came out of the gates with" Blab ", a" walkie-talkie "ephemeral video messaging service that picked up millions of users quickly, but found it difficult to maintain them. It closed a year later, and it looks like Monkey Inferno dabbled in a few other things before coming to esports.

From social networking to socialization of esports

In the last pivot, Bebo first tried streaming services for esport players, but it turned out to be fierce competition against dominant platforms such as OBS and Xsplit. Then, in an interesting nod, it moved to its previous history in social networks and re-organizing friend groups into organizing and ongoing streamers tournaments, with leagues and more: the stream ran on Twitch and Bebo organized viewers, leagues, and other things around it.

This site, Bebo.com, is now offline, and all its tweets seem to have been deleted but the idea was to build leagues and tournaments for any kind of group and player, such as complete beginners or high school students.

It was the last of these that proved to be in line with a growing market segment.

According to a report in eMarketer, esports attracted approx. 400 million users in 2018 and deducted revenue of $ 869 million from sponsorships, gambling costs, and advertising, and is expected to be worth between $ 1.58 billion and $ 2.96 billion in 2022. And Bebo helped organize and build these community.

And that's Now, we connect with Twitch, who had developed his own casual esports operation in the form of Twitch Rivals. This was launched in beta in 2018 and is now widely available where Twitch is.

Bebo tech and its team are both now being used on Twitch Rivals to help expand it with more features and more users. To be clear, it seems that there is no intention – from what I understand – to parlay Bebo's past efforts in social networking for a wider social networking game at Twitch: the focus is on esports.

Still, the takeover comes to a central moment. Since January, there have been reports that Amazon is working on a new game streaming service (like Apple, Google and others), which probably won't be out for next year. 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Facebook has finally revealed details of its cryptocurrency Libra who will let you buy things or send money to p eople with almost zero fees. You will pseudonymously purchase or pay out your Libra online or at local exchange sites as grocery stores and use it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook's own Calibra wallet which will be built into WhatsApp, Messenger, and its own app. Today, Facebook published its White Paper explaining Libra and its test net to draft the kinks in its block chess system before a public launch in the first half of 2020.

Facebook ] will not fully control Libra, but instead get just one voice in its governance as other founders of the Libra Association, including Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz, who have at least invested $ 10 million each for the project's activities. The association will promote the open Libra blockchain and developer platform with its own Move programming language plus sign-up companies to accept Libra for payment and even give customers discounts or winnings.

Facebook launches a subsidiary called Calibra, which handles its crypto conditions and protects users' privacy by never mixing your Libra payments with your Facebook data so it cannot be used for ad targeting. Your real identity will not be linked to your publicly visible transactions. But Facebook / Calibra and other founding members of the Libra Association will earn interest on money users cash in, which is held in reserve to keep the value of Libra stable.

Facebook's bold bid to create a global digital currency that promotes economic integration for the unbanked, actually has more privacy and decentralization built-in than many are expected. Instead of trying to dominate Libra's future or squeeze out a lot of money right away, Facebook instead plays the long game by pulling payments to its online domain. Facebook's VP of Blockade David Marcus explained the company's motive and coherence with his core revenue source during a briefing in San Francisco's historic Mint building. "If more trading happens, more small businesses will sell more to and from platform, and they want to buy more ads on the platform, so it will be good for our ads."

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