Amazon’s Twitch snaps up former social media darling Bebo to grow esports presence

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(GeekWire Photo)

Amazon-owned Twitch has purchased esports company and early social media contender Bebo to grow its presence in the gaming world.

The size of the deal is not known, but sources told TechCrunch that Twitch paid less than $25 million for Bebo’s technology and the 10-person team. The acquisition is meant to add fuel to Twitch’s esports business, particularly game competition streaming channel Twitch Rivals, TechCrunch said.

A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed the acquisition but declined to share further details.

Bebo rode the tidal wave of social media startups to an $850 million acquisition by AOL in 2008, three years after it launched. The dream that was Bebo quickly dissipated, and in 2013 Bebo’s husband-and-wife co-founders Michael and Xochi Birch repurchased the site for $1 million in a post-bankruptcy auction.

Bebo has since rebranded as an esports streaming platform. As of today, the company’s website appeared to have been taken down and its tweets were deleted.

Amazon paid $970 million for Twitch in 2014 and has used the platform to ink a live-streaming deal with the NBA, offer free games to Prime members, and stream an epic Pokémon marathon.

But Amazon’s broader efforts in gaming have gone through a series of fits and starts. Last week, Amazon confirmed that it restructured its internal game development studio and canceled projects, reportedly letting go of dozens of game developers in the process. The studio has released one console game, “The Grand Tour Game,” and has two online games in development.

For developers, Amazon operates a game development engine called Lumberyard that is built off of CryEngine, which the company licensed from Crytek in 2015. And Amazon’s cloud division, AWS, offers an API called “GameOn” that lets developers add competition features to their games — including the ability to dole out prizes in the form of products from Amazon.com.



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