To strengthen its eSports efforts, Amazon-owned streaming video site Twitch has acquired Bebo. The two platforms are said to work on growing the eSports business of Twitch, and Twitch Rivals in particular, according to reports.
The acquisition is said to encompass IP as well as personnel, which is approximately 10 employees. According to unnamed sources cited in a report, Twitch paid under $25 million for the firm. (But other unnamed sources claim it “was materially less than this.”) The company was also said to have come out ahead of at least another bidder that is said to be growing its own business for eSports, and LinkedIn profiles of employees who used to work for Bebo reportedly indicate a changeover date of June.
Bebo began in 2005 as a social networking platform by Michael and Xochi Birch. It was said to have become “the market leader” in some countries such as Ireland and the U.K. The growth path of the company in addition to the larger opportunity in social media helped it get acquired by AOL for approximately $850 million in 2008. The company was sold to Criterion Capital less than two years after, and the Birches purchased it for $1 million in 2013.
Through its last pivot, the company attempted streaming services for players of eSports. Then it reportedly pivoted again into the organization and operation of streaming tournaments. Bebo organized the viewers, and the streams appeared on Twitch.
eGaming was a $493 million industry in 2016, and that had increased to $655 million in 2017 (the last year for which data was available.) Most estimates for 2018 are approximately $900 million. While the term eSports could point to a broad array of games in the competitive space, the most popular varieties are multi-player online battle arenas or the first-person shooter genres in general. These forms are said to be particularly popular with the up-and-coming Gen Zers demographic, which is starting to nudge millennials out of the headlines.