"San Francisco police! Who's there? ... Someone here got stabbed in the chest?" Those were the words Justin Kan heard when a cop burst into his San Francisco apartment in 2007.
Thus begins the story of the company that, 7 years later, would be acquired by Amazon for 980 million USD and that has become the #1 streaming platform worldwide.
This is the story of Twitch.
"Has anyone here been stabbed in the chest?"
That phrase was etched for posterity. Not by the cop, but by Justin, a 23-year-old entrepreneur who, along with his best friend Emmet, had started an experiment: filming and streaming the reality-show of his life.
They needed 4 elements: A camera, a backpack, a laptop and an antenna. Justin strapped the camera to his ear and began to document everything. everything what was going on in his life.
"Did someone here get stabbed in the chest?"
Justin already had a small audience when one of his followers decided to play a practical joke on him. A 911 caller reported to police that a person "had been stabbed in the chest."
That never happened. However, that was one of the first viral moments on the platform then called Justin.tv. From there, it was all growth.
Justin and Emmet had struck out before.
In 2005 they graduated from Yale University and created their first startup : Kiko, an on-line calendar. Something super innovative and brilliant for that time. But timing played a trick on them.
A year later, Google would launch Calendar and the little startup would fail miserably. Fortunately they were able to sell it on eBay for $258,000 USD.
What a failure, eh?
As good entrepreneurs, Justin and Emmet had new ideas all the time.
The idea of making a "Truman Show" a real-life business was very appealing. At least that's what Y Combinator founder Paul Graham thought when he met with them.
Justin and Emmet left the meeting with Graham with a $50,000 check in their pocket, and a lot of motivation to build the platform.
They knew that having a GREAT team was critical to achieving this. That's when they recruited Michael Seibel from Yale and Kyle Vogt from MIT.
Now the team was complete.
In March 2007 they launched Justin.tv. Users logging into the platform could see and hear everything Justin saw through the camera strapped to his baseball cap.
In October 2007 Justin.tv raises $8M in Series A.
Justin.tv users began creating their own channels and live streaming to the world. Categories such as "People and casting", "Sports" and "Gaming" would be added later.
In November 2008, a high school student live streams a Chicago Bears game. That was the beginning of illegal broadcasts.
By 2010 Justin.tv has 20 million users... and some problems.
The platform is growing largely due to pirate streams.
Imagine: Users from all over the world streaming sporting events on pay-per-view pay per view (Formula 1, Boxing, etc).
As a good disruptive startup, Justin.tv grew almost equally in the number of live streams as in the number of lawsuits received.
Our protagonists have to take drastic measures to curb pirate consumption. This led to the platform losing some 4 million users in 2011.
Advertisers did not like the idea of remaining on a platform where anything could happen. The uncertainty was too high.
Justin.tv needed a change. A pivot. And the solution was right in front of their eyes.
The future of the platform was in the only category that continued to grow: Gaming.
First they decided to add some "user-friendly" functionalities within the Gaming category. Then, the Startup started recruiting gamers from all over the world to broadcast their games live through the platform.
In June 2011 Twitch.tvwas born: A spin-off focused on eSports.
The timing was perfect.
While eSports tournaments were already taking place in Asia, it was not as popular in the West.
League of Legends and Dota were two of the most streamed games on the platform.
In September 2012, Twitch raises $15M in its Series B.
By October 2013, Twitch already has 45 million visitors.
In August 2014, Amazon decides to buy the company for $970 million.