The Gaming Careers Podcast
Twitch CEO Quits After 16 Years! (with Lowco)
Emmett Shear, the CEO of Twitch, stepped down after founding the platform 16 years ago. Join Pete and special guest Lowco as they dive into what this means for the platform and their thoughts on the new CEO who's taking over.
March 20, 2023
Emmett Shear, the CEO of Twitch, has stepped down after founding the platform 16 years ago. Join Pete and special guest Lowco as they dive into what this means for the platform and their thoughts on the new CEO who’s taking over.
- Streamer Awards results
- Kai Cenat 30-day subathon documentary
- Sacriel and Shroud creating a survival game
- Discord integration with Playstation 5
- Truffle add live stream previews to YouTube
- StreamElements update Activity Feed
- YouTube relax previously announced profanity rules
- Twitch lay off 400 employees
- Twitch homepage shelf ranking
- Raid issues
- Ads Incentive Program changes
- Emmett Shear steps down as Twitch CEO
- Podcast interview with Emmett Shear
- Jake’n’Bake’s opinion on Dan Clancy (new CEO)
Pete Wilkins [00:00:00]:
What’s up, guys? Welcome back to the Gaming Careers podcast, episode number 72, and it’s a special one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because Emmett Shearer, one of the original founders of Twitch and the current CEO, has stepped down. 16 years ago he helped transition Justin TV into Twitch TV and he’s been through it all through the Amazon acquisition and CEO for the last few years. But he has decided to step down. So there’s plenty to break down as to his decision and who’s replacing him. The second reason it’s a special episode is because we’re joined by a special guest. Loco is joining me this week as Ben is off learning how to be a dad and she is an absolute expert when it comes to anything streamer news. She’s often the one breaking the news herself. We featured her tweets and her thoughts on this podcast many times before, so it’s been great to have a conversation with her about such an interesting topic. Before we get into the juicy stuff, with Emmett Shearer stepping down, we’re first going to cover the creator and industry news.
Like you as well, Pete. I did not catch the Streamer Awards, but you know, I think it’s a really great thing for the industry as a whole. As much as people say it’s just for the top streamers, it’s very self gratifying. Every major industry has some sort of official recognition and so I think it’s really good to have one for Streamers because especially being a streamer led event, the work we do is I think can be groundbreaking and I think the streamer words helps to highlight that. So although I didn’t catch it, I am a big fan of having stuff like that in the industry.
Pete Wilkins [00:01:52]:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I could have put it better myself, to be honest. It’s one of those things that’s like a thankless task and you could imagine one of the big companies doing it, twitch hosting their own Streamer Awards. And then I think a lot of people would complain it’d be like YouTube’s rewind video when they’re trying to blow their own trumpet and everyone’s like, oh, why didn’t you pick this, why didn’t you pick that? So I like that this award ceremony has been built by a streamer and seems to be impartial. The only other award that I wanted to pull up was the best live streamed event because I think there seems to be more and more of these happening through the year, like these really big production events and they’re always sort of pushing the boundaries of live streams. So the winner of that was Ludwig’s Mogul Chessboxing Championship which was groundbreaking on YouTube because they had multiple different audio streams for multiple different languages. But there was plenty of good events this year. It’s always good to see them pushing the boundaries for that. I actually should probably tune into the Streamer Awards once because I think the production level of that has even gone up. And I know that there was a Spanish version which I saw some clips from that just looked incredible in terms of the production value. I think it was IBI that ran that stream. But yeah, so always interesting to see who picks up the awards and there’s too many awards but I’m sure people say the same things about the Baftas and the Oscars. There’s too many categories. I don’t need to know who the best minecraft streamer is, but for the big ones like best Streamer event and streamer of the year and I think streamer streamer was pay money. Wooby. Somewhere down here. That’s always a nice one to win, I imagine, if you’re being voted as the best streamer by other streamers. So yeah, one to watch. Speaking of Kai a wonder loco if you caught or if you subscribe to Kai’s YouTube channel. I don’t as can be seen for the screen share here, but there was a release of a documentary this week, just a few days ago, talking about his subathon the 30 days that he was live, where he broke the Twitch record for most concurrent subscribers. And the documentary is really good. I’ve only caught like the first 15 minutes because I saw it, somebody posted it to me, I think in the gaming careers discord and I was just having a look at it. It’s really well produced, it looks like a proper documentary. There’s already some great clips of his mum talking about what kind of a person he is and stuff like that. So that’s well worth a watch if you don’t really know much about Kaisen out or if you want to learn more about the documentary. I imagine you haven’t watched this 55 minutes for a content creator to sit through unless you’re watching it on stream. But you tell me, yeah, I haven’t.
Watched it myself, but I always watch things at a faster speed. I don’t know if you do this at all, but with videos I try to get through it as fast as possible. I haven’t seen this one yet, but again, it kind of just goes with the whole subject of streamers really pushing boundaries and all these streamers who are getting success, maybe doing what would be like typical live streaming but then using their success to actually do bigger and better things. Cutie. Cinderella putting on the streamer awards, ludwig putting on these chessboxing events and getting record breaking viewership for doing these things. I think streaming is kind of getting really outside the box and streamers are wanting to do more with the craft rather than just sit and react to content all day. While people love that sort of thing, I think that they’re trying to do bigger things. And again, big fan of that kind of stuff. So I’m definitely watching Kai and all those folks up at the top and also myself coming up with always ideas for things to do in the industry. I’m like, dang it, if I had that kind of money, I would put on so many cool events stuff. So I love seeing that kind of creativity come out.
Pete Wilkins [00:05:35]:
Yeah, well, speaking of streamers getting big opportunities, we also saw an announcement that both Shroud and Sacrile are joining Splash Damage, who are a game development development studio to build their own open world survival game. So I just highlighted this because I thought we’ve seen a few streamers now who are like building their own games, but combo Shroud and Sacrile, like two of the biggest FPS streamers, but certainly in that open world survival type niche, I think that’s going to be a massive opportunity for Splash Damage. If they make a good game and it goes down well with streamers, you know that that’s going to be a massive boost to their sales. So it’s cool to see streamers getting these opportunities, especially when you’re talking about building their own game. I mean, how many people can say that they’ve managed to do that on AAA title, right?
And I know this is something that Sacrile and I’m sure even Shroud have been dreaming about their entire careers. When you really get into video games, you have those dreams. You want to be a game developer and I’m pretty sure that’s actually what Sacral was interested in before streaming took off for him. So to have them finally be able to fulfill that and create a game that they would want to play, they’d want to stream, right? Creators have, I think, not always the best opinions on everything that a game should have, but they do have a really good idea of how games should be made, how games should be played, because they do them professionally. Right. So I’ve got a lot of high expectations coming from Sacral and Shroud’s backgrounds as being really experienced gamers and streamers. I mean, I’m hoping that this is an awesome game. So I’m excited to see what happens and excited to see these streamers live out some of their dreams.
Pete Wilkins [00:07:21]:
Yeah, I mean Shroud, especially if I could handpick a streamer to design a game, he seems so smart and so switched on. He’s obviously played Count Strike at a professional level for many years of his life, but seems any game that he puts his hand to, he can succeed at. And he has. I’ve watched his stream a few times when he’s talked about a new game that’s come out that he’s playing and bits that he likes and bits that he doesn’t like. He seems to have like a really level head as to what makes a game fun to play. Good as an esport, good as a spectator esport as well. So yeah, I think two great gamers to help build a game. I don’t know how long it takes to build the game. I would imagine like five plus years. But if they’re already talking about it, maybe it’s closer down the road than we think. All right, onto talking some quick industry news updates. Quick one to start is that Discord and PlayStation have partnered. I think we knew about this or that it was coming down the road, but now you can use Discord on PlayStation Five console. So I think that’s now PS Five, Xbox, PC, Mac, web browser, phone iOS, Android, basically wherever you and your mates want to have a Discord call and play games at the same time, you can now do it. And obviously, it’s cross platform. So if one friend is playing on a PlayStation and you’re playing on a PC, you can now finally talk. Whereas before, when it was like PlayStation Party Chat, there was just no cross compatibility. So that’s always a good thing. I don’t know if there’s much you can really say on that logo, but we can just jump into the next bit if you want to.
I mean, I guess what I’ll say is it’s great that Discord is becoming more accessible for console creators, right, if you’re playing in a party and not everyone’s exclusively on PlayStation, having that cross platform compatibility, I think is so important for gaming and creation as a whole. Right. But it’s pretty interesting how Discord can be so big and yet in a lot of gaming niches, it’s still not even known. My brother is like a hardcore gamer, never heard of Discord plays almost exclusively on consoles. So maybe this will help get Discord out into more gamers hands.
Pete Wilkins [00:09:25]:
Yeah, that’s true, actually. I hadn’t really thought about that. I mean, Discord as well has grown massively outside of the gaming niche you now see. I think Discord announced this week that one of the AI tools, I can’t remember which one it is, stable diffusion or one of these art generating AI tools. Their Discord server is now the biggest Discord server on Discord.
Yeah, I think it’s mid journey.
Pete Wilkins [00:09:49]:
Mid journey, that’s probably right.
Like over a million, several million people. I think it’s pretty massive.
Pete Wilkins [00:09:55]:
And if you think about it, that’s the perfect platform for hosting a community like that, because people are sharing cool AI art. And if you want to be somewhere where you’re seeing the best results of that and talking about it, then Discord is the perfect platform for it. So Discord has always tried to push it grew massively on the back of gaming and now it’s trying to push its way outside of that. But partnerships with PlayStation and all the main games consoles is obviously the way that you keep your gaming roots and make sure that everyone can have the party chat in a nice open source way. Other little bits of industry news, just a couple of plugin updates, really, but I think they’re quite interesting. The Truffle extension, which is one of the extensions, I think Ludwig’s developer built, or Ludwig was a part of, helping design, has released a new feature, which I thought was really cool, worth highlighting, where you can if you’re watching a YouTube video of a creator in the screenshot. Example here, I think it’s Dr Lupo. So he’s watching Dr Lupo’s YouTube video and when Dr Lupo is live, a sort of preview window pops up in the top right hand corner. And this isn’t just if they’re live on YouTube, which I think Dr Lupo is still exclusively signed to YouTube, but if they’re live on Twitch as well, it still shows the pop up with a link to go and watch them. So a nice little cross platform promotion tool where if you have a big YouTube audience and you’re live on Twitch, they can then click through to watch you live. So definitely not YouTube building this feature. They don’t want to send people off platform to their main competitor in the live streaming space, but a nice little tool. I think that maybe we’re going to see more and more people install tools like this and then be able to promote their live streams whilst they’re live on a different platform on a video.
Yeah, this is super smart. And I know Ludwig, when he moved to YouTube, really was like, oh man, we need some tools over here on Twitch. We have better twitch TV. We have seven TV. Frank or Z on YouTube there wasn’t anything because no one really livestreamed and no one really cared about it. So when Ludwig moved over, he was like, well, there’s clearly a need here, let’s build it. And so I think he was behind Truffle, adding a lot of things. Actually, I think now Better Twitch TV and Seven TV both work on YouTube now, which is great, but obviously for creators, we’re not usually just stuck on one platform. A lot of us create on multiple platforms at the same time. So having that funnel and that crossover, that cross promotion, I mean, we saw with YouTube shorts now, when you’re live and someone sees your short, it will take you there, it’ll plug to your next video, right? So there’s a lot of that within YouTube itself. We want to see more of that, obviously, but also ways that popular plugins can kind of help creators cross promote their stuff. Honestly, I’d love to see something like that for twitch. Like with better twitch TV. Can we have maybe in the bottom corner, top right, can we have plugs to the new YouTube video that just went out, or the newest TikTok or Tweet or something? I’d love to see more of that kind of cross promotion as creators start thinking outside the platform that they’re on and try to create on multiple platforms.
Pete Wilkins [00:13:04]:
Yeah, I think that the tool that Twitch talked about in their sort of plans for 2023, where they’re talking about a mobile experience to be able to browse through clips and make your own vertical videos effectively, like TikTok, but on Twitch, just for live stream highlights. I think we’re going to see Twitch really do the same thing that YouTube have done and make sure that if somebody is live and you’re watching one of their clips or watching one of these vertical formats on the Twitch app, you’re going to be able to one click and see that they’re live and go and watch their livestream. The problem is these platforms are competitors to each other, so there is no incentive for them to promote a YouTube video on Twitch or a Twitch live stream on YouTube. And that’s why we have to be reliant on tools like Truffle and developers to build these sort of connections. I remember way back in the day, twitch used to allow you to export your VODs directly to YouTube. There was like a natural integration where you logged in through the YouTube API in the Twitch back end. You can still do that. Okay, so they haven’t removed everything. Okay.
No, and it’s very critical, honestly. And actually you would be surprised because Twitch released a roadmap at the beginning of this year and they said that they were working to improve, basically linking clips on Twitter. It was very kind of vague and a little outdated, to be honest. We would love to see more Twitter integrations maybe two or three years ago, but we did see a mention of some sort of improving discoverability or linking videos on Twitter. We also saw mention of creating a vertical tool. Right. So we have these tools that exist like cross clip, stream, ladder, all these things where you can submit a Twitch clip and choose where your camera is, choose where the action is and it will take your horizontal Twitch clip and convert it into vertical. Right. Plenty of these tools, but Twitch actually officially stated that they’re going to be working on their own tool that’s inherent on Twitch so that streamers can put their clips on other platforms. So Twitch does realize that creators need other platforms to grow on Twitch, which is not really good for Twitch to have that stance where they’re reliant on other platforms. But it is good that they’re creating some official tools to help with those things so they’re not as closed off to other platforms as you might think.
Pete Wilkins [00:15:20]:
Yeah, I can’t wait to see I think Ben and I talked about it previously. I can’t wait to see how they’ll definitely put some kind of watermark on that so that when it gets exported to TikTok, you’re going to see the twitch logo and then the username of the user, and they’ll be like, oh, that’s to help push your stream in front of people. But really they just want Twitch to be all over TikTok and those kind of platforms. Last little update in terms of industry news is that stream elements, which I know a lot of streamers use to sort of manage their alerts and all those kind of things, they’ve released an update to the Activity Feed. They’re calling it activity feed 2.0. I don’t quite know if it warrants a whole number change because really the main changes is that you can customize the colors of the different types of alerts. So subscribes or donations or gifted subs, you can customize the colors now and you can sort of have it in a super compact mode as well as like the stretch out. So if you’re a popular streamer that’s getting hundreds of interactions every hour, then you’re going to have the option to be able to have it in a much more compact way and also have the alerts much more obvious to you based on your own sort of color schemes. Not a huge update, but I think enough people in the community are using stream elements and stream elements alongside ABS Studio to be able to make sure that they’re keeping on top of all of their stream actions. But that’s probably it for the industry news, so we can jump straight into platform news. And we’re going to start with YouTube. And they kind of walked back on their big profanity Update that they did earlier this year. And I’m getting most of the details here from the Creator Insider Channel One that we talk about a lot here on the podcast and the video, which is now three videos old, but it’s called Profanity Update. And we can sort of break down a bit about what they say through the video so that we don’t have to watch it through. They’ve also linked an updated YouTube help article. But the profanity update that happened at the end of November, just to remind everybody as to what that was, that was the one where you can’t swear in the first 7 seconds of the video, you can’t put certain titles, text in your titles and thumbnails. You couldn’t use music that had swear words. It was like a big crackdown on what was going to be monetary in terms of what you could actually monetize videos wise and what would return a yellow icon or a red icon. And they’ve walked some of this back. So I’m just going to read out a few of the updates for people listening on the pod after the fact. So the changes from March the 7th onwards are usage of moderate profanity at any time in the video is now eligible for green icons. Usage of stronger profanity like the F word in the first 7 seconds or repeatedly throughout the majority of the video can now receive limited ads, whereas previously at the end of November that would have been receiving no ad revenue at all. Video content using profanity moderate or strong after the first 7 seconds will now be eligible for green icons unless it’s used repetitively throughout the majority of the video, again at the end of November, that would have been no ad revenue instead. And they’ve also clarified some updates on music in the background and if it has any profanity in the music you can still receive full ad revenue whereas previously you could receive none. And the main update here is that they’ve made it much more crystal clear. So one of the problems with the November update was you didn’t know what category of swear word each swear word counted as which ones could you use in the first 7 seconds, which ones couldn’t you use? And all these kind of things, they’ve really gone out of their way to now update everybody as to what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. Actually, if you watch that video took me aback a bit because I’ve been watching the Creator Insider channel for a few years now. It’s the best way to get updates on YouTube basically. And the hosts are always so polite and well spoken and then all of a sudden he’s like dropping F bombs, like actually saying the words out loud. He’s like, this word is not acceptable and this word is acceptable. So it was quite interesting to watch. They clearly had some feedback that they weren’t clear enough in their previous update and they needed to spell it out for everybody. I think this overall good changes. They’re walking back, it’s still more strict than it was pre November but it’s certainly a lot clearer now and there seems to be more opportunities for people to monetize even if they do have profanity in their content. So yeah, what did you think of this location when you saw it?
Yeah, I remember this update came out and of course many creators were upset and I think Twitch so used to talking about Twitch. I think YouTube, they were trying to again kind of they had their heads too far into the advertisers section and not enough in the creators. Right. And I think platforms kind of get sucked into okay thinking about advertisers and brands and they leave part of that behind. Right, the creators behind that. I think they’re trying to figure out what the happy medium is. They want to keep the advertisers happy, especially right now where companies are kind of tightening their advertising budgets. But also the creators are kind of the core of what makes YouTube work so they need to figure out what they can manage from both sides. So I think this is a good change. It doesn’t affect me because I’ve always been brand safe. I feel like even with this, it’s the best way to go but that’s just my personal take. So yeah, you’re more into the space. So I’d love to know kind of what the reception has been with YouTubers.
Pete Wilkins [00:20:46]:
Yeah, I mean, I’m the same, always been very brand safe, just don’t want to deny any advertising opportunities if I’m being completely honest. But what I’ve enjoyed is actually the spin on the content that people have made. So I’ve seen a lot of people that would swear in the first 7 seconds and then they’ve cleverly edited it to be like, I can’t swear in the first 7 seconds. So they kind of used it to make extra content in some way, which is the right way to think about these things. Like to make a joke about a rule that you don’t agree with while still complying, but making it clear that you would have sworn if this new rule hadn’t come in about the first 7 seconds. So, yeah, in general, the response to the first change, end of November, I was one of the first accounts to tweet about that and it was nonstop with people being like, oh my God, what’s happening to the world? We can’t do this, we can’t do that, YouTube’s going wrong, susan needs to quit. All these kind of things like mega huge reactions about some changes and a lot of them were already in place and they were just making more clarity and then now that they’re being walked back a bit, I’ve seen in general people being happy. Some people say that they should have reversed all the changes, but I think this is a good change, a happy medium in between. And like you say, you’ve got to sympathize with YouTube are trying to make sure that their platform succeeds and makes money. And because all of the monetary value is in like a share program with creators, that does mean more money for creators as well. So they’re trying to make sure that advertisers stay happy and stay on board. And that in turn does mean that creators are going to make more money. So my opinion, yeah, I think this is a good change. Walking it back a bit whilst still having some rules and regulations around.
Yeah, I think it’s really interesting because I often say that Twitch is like YouTube, but six years behind. So YouTube recently, by recently, I mean, what was it three years ago at this point? They went through a DMCA apocalypse. We’re seeing kind of a lot of changes with their ad program where they’re trying to incentivize creators to run more ads, they’re trying to make changes to appeal more to creators. But Twitch is still so far behind when it comes to advertising. I mean, with CPMs or targeting or just honestly, just making it work for Streamers is an entirely different battle, but there’s still a lot of similarities where I’m like, wow, we are going to have many growing pains with the ad program here on Twitch and I feel like they don’t look enough at YouTube and just try to learn. Right? You have the insight of a company that has gone through the same struggles and yeah, a lot of parallels I see here with Twitch and YouTube.
Pete Wilkins [00:23:33]:
Yeah, the DMCA thing, if you listen to the podcast, back when we were going through that every single week, ben and I were like, this is just YouTube. But five years ago, how could Twitch have thought that they didn’t need to start building a tool or to help with takedowns and copyright notices and all these kind of things? And there was so much misinformation out there about what people could use music wise in streams and it was just yeah, we had to start banishing the term DMCA because it was like six months in a row where it was the main topic that we talked about on the podcast. Yeah, speaking of Twitch, let’s move on to talking about some Twitch news. Now obviously we’re going to get to the big Twitch news at the end, but actually some breaking news even just today, which is unfortunate, never like to share this kind of stuff, but unfortunately Twitch has announced that they have made 400 people redundant. I haven’t actually seen anywhere loco, you’re the person in the know so maybe you know which kind of departments this is, but it’s certainly not announced in their blog post they talked through about how it’s a difficult decision and it’s to secure the future of Twitch. And there was a couple of choice phrases that I’m going to try and pull out on the fly here. One of them talking about the user and revenue growth has not kept pace with our expectations and that’s why they’ve had to make cuts. And that was quite an honest statement to read, really. We’ve known for a while that Amazon has maybe in the back side been saying, twitch, you need to start turning a profit and that’s why we’ve seen the increased ads and all these kind of things. But for them to actually write it in a blog post and that’s the main reason as to why they’ve had to make 400 redundancies, that’s not a small amount of people that have been let go today or this week or whenever it’s actually happened. So yeah, it’s always sad to share that kind of news but I think it is worth talking about because we need to stay on top of these platforms as to if they’re growing or not. And Twitch has written it out here that it’s not kept pace with their expectations.
Yeah, and a lot of creators are panicking because Twitch cut 400 jobs. That’s like 15% to 20% of their workforce, it’s estimated. And so let’s kind of break this down. So this morning, Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, owns Twitch, sends out an email to their workforce saying we’re going to cut 9000 jobs in sectors of cloud computing, human resources, advertising and Twitch specifically. So we got a heads up this morning this was coming. 400 layoffs is pretty significant for Twitch’s size, so I think this is pretty standard right now. A lot of tech companies are doing layoffs in anticipation of a potential recession. They overhired and rising interest rates is forcing them to make some cuts and that’s usually in labor, right? So basically what’s happening here is this was going. To happen as Amazon. This is like, what, their second or third round of layoffs. They’ve laid off, what, 20,000 employees? 18,000 so far. So this was kind of to be expected, the repercussions of this. Hard to say. Again, this is not Twitch specific. So this is not a red flag of like, oh my gosh, Twitch is crumbling and they’re cutting. This is very standard in the industry. Stream elements themselves have undergone a couple of rounds of layoffs as well, and budget cuts, so we’ll see the impact. I haven’t seen what departments are affected yet. Actually this morning when this blog post dropped, I was streaming and there were Twitch staff in my chat who didn’t know if they had a job. They weren’t told, so they basically heard it first through the Twitch blog. Just kind of interesting that Twitch themselves announced this. I feel like this is something that they wouldn’t really ever talk about from their own perspective. Right, so I feel like that’s different.
Pete Wilkins [00:27:32]:
Yes. I mean, it’s not an easy first blog post to write as your first job as the CEO. Obviously we haven’t covered that news yet, but yeah, that was written by Dan Clancy, the new CEO of Twitch. That’s really poor if people aren’t finding out whether they have a job or not and they’re reading blog posts and that’s the first time that they’re hearing about it, something needs to change. But hopefully these people still find jobs throughout the streaming industry if it’s what they’re interested in. It has been a lot of layoffs. Like you said, stream elements have gone through, I think, a couple of rounds. Facebook or Meta have made several rounds of redundancies. So it is happening industry wide. It’s not necessarily just in the streaming space, this is more like a tech Silicon Valley type redundancy and it’s just the market that we live in right now onto some happier news of little Twitch experiments and things that are running at the moment. Obviously we’ve got the new experiments page so we can go and check actually what experiments are running. I did look on the experiments page and this one actually isn’t on there yet. So I wonder if it’s going to be added post March 30 when they’re going to talk about it on patch notes. But there’s a new experiment rolling out that you might see. Any users can go and check out now that are listening or watching. If you go to the home page, logged in or logged out, there could be a new re ranking of the different shelves. So the shelves are obviously like the horizontal carousels of streams and those can be re ranked in a different way based on what Twitch knows about you. So personalized in some way where the content groups that you’re more interested in are going to be closer to the top and less interested in further down the bottom. And I think I saw Zach or somebody tweeting about this being rolled out to 30% of people that aren’t logged in and about 3% of people that are logged in. So I haven’t seen it myself. I did check if I was both logged in and logged out and I didn’t see any re ranking. I saw the exact same page, even in incognito mode was the exact same for me. So haven’t seen it. But yeah, this kind of makes sense to personalize the home page. We’ve seen how successful it’s been for TikTok and for YouTube and for basically any other platform that does some kind of algorithm based content suggestion. So yeah, it’s just a matter of time until Twitch is probably just running five streams for you that it thinks that you’re going to be interested in checking out or watching. So yeah, have you seen anything about this yet?
Loco yeah, I haven’t looked myself because I don’t go to the Twitch homepage ever. But Twitch is in desperate need of better discoverability for users because right now most people find streams by the most amount of viewers. So if you have more viewers, you get more viewers. And Twitch hasn’t really nailed that for you type discovery that TikTok and YouTube really excel at. They don’t really understand. To be fair, it’s hard to qualify streams because it’s 8 hours of content that you’re trying to identify through keywords versus a ten minute YouTube video or a 32nd TikTok, right, and you have tags. So Twitch is trying to get to the point where they’re curating content because that’s ideal for discovery. This is an experiment to see if Twitch user behavior will change on the home page if it’ll be more engaging. I think part of that controversy comes from the Twitch front page and the carousel that’s at the top and how there’s been some bad press about the front page slots being inflated views because people go there but they’re not really engaged with those channels. So I think they’re trying to see if users will find more meaningful discovery right from the get go.
Pete Wilkins [00:31:22]:
Yeah, great comment from our live stream chat. I pulled up the wrong one. It’s Vice says, I can’t think of one time I found a new streamer, a new Twitch streamer that I want to watch where I didn’t first find them on YouTube. And I think that’s been the common growth tactic, hasn’t it? Build up a platform on one of these platforms that suggests content and has a really good algorithm like TikTok or YouTube or even Instagram to some extent and then try and transition that audience across to Twitch. So yeah, certainly seeing the same things and whatever Twitch can do the algorithm again, could they not have learned this from YouTube? Five years ahead, start working on a suggestion algorithm because it’s going to be important as to how people discover content. It’s not all going to be as to who you follow and how you discovered them, right?
Yeah, and I think there’s a little bias here because we’re on YouTube right now. I think a lot of creators or a lot of viewers on Twitch find other streamers through raids, through those types of connections, through similar channels. And so I think there is definitely room for more curated discovery versus like clicking on Xqc stream every time you log on to Twitch. So, yeah, I mean, a lot of discovery right now is just coming externally from Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, those are the main sources and it’s about time. I mean, Twitch is very slow to this development, so I hope it’s not too late, I hope they’re not too slow on developing these type of things. And we’ll talk about that here in just a minute when we talk about the big change that’s happening over at Twitch.
Pete Wilkins [00:33:04]:
Yeah, well, whilst you mentioned raids, why don’t we jump into talking about some issues that came out in the past week for Twitch in terms of their new Raid functionality. Well, I say new Raid functionality not really anything has changed, but something has definitely changed in the last three months because they didn’t used to have many issues and now loads of users aren’t being taken across when somebody raids. So twitch tweeted out. After closely reviewing the recent concerns about Raid views, we found three scenarios where this could happen. So they’re basically saying if you’re not getting taken along with a raid or your stream chat isn’t, maybe try one of these three things. The first thing they found is when people are watching from anything besides a supported client, they list out their supported clients being iOS, Android and Web. The second thing is having chat hidden via chat settings. So I think that must mean if you’ve actually fully hidden chat or if you’re using a platform like TV where chat doesn’t show and instead it shows on your phone or something like that. And then three long browser session where they recommend try refreshing the page. Now, long browser sessions are pretty common on Twitch because people watch for a long amount of time. So that seems to me like a bug that you need to fix Twitch. And actually, who is Tom Vera? He’s the chief product officer at Twitch. Also tweeted out a little TLDR saying that they’ve heard about the raids issue and the data supports their users observations. The team has been actively debugging it for weeks. They’ve had some success, but hopefully more coming. And then there’s three things that you can do to lower the risk of the bug whilst you work. And then his quote, tweeted the tweet. So, yeah, not a huge update, but I know a lot of people have been struggling with raids and not being taken along and like Loco just mentioned, it’s one of the only discoverability features ever on Twitch, so it’d be good if they fixed it. And yeah, let’s move on to talking about the last little Twitch update which actually is over a week old because we didn’t pod last week, I thought we would cover it this week and that is the changes to the ads incentive program. And I love how they’ve talked through this as if it’s all good things. It’s a classic marketing strategy from Twitch where this is much better than it was. But actually they’ve removed the fixed payouts, which was I think what a lot of people were excited about, about the ads incentive program was it was the incentive, right? It was the incentive. Yeah, exactly.
Pete Wilkins [00:35:24]:
Yeah, it was. The main reason that you wanted to join the program is because you knew a guaranteed amount of money that you were going to get if you met the requirements over the next month. So I guess they’ve gone back on that and they’ve tried to spin it as a good thing because you can now join or break at any time. You don’t have to stay committed to the ads incentive program. You can see revenue estimates instead of fixed payouts which we discussed. So now there’s like a super wide estimate. I mean, I don’t stream on Twitch, but from the Tweets that I’ve seen, people are getting huge estimates as to where their payout could be depending on how many viewers they maintain and how many times they stream through the month. You don’t need to re sign up every month anymore. So your choice as to which of the three choices you go for will now roll over and then you can of course change that, but you don’t need to go in and select it and sign up every single month. And until you do that, then you don’t get the 55% split. So yeah, I don’t know how they’ve managed to spin it, but when I was reading through this I was like grinning and nodding my head and then I was thinking actually what was the ads incentive program? That was the one where it was guaranteed payouts. What do you think about this one?
So essentially we’ve come full circle if we talk about where we started, which was Twitch affiliates were able to qualify for increased, an increased ad split if they run three minutes of ads an hour. Now they had to run it for a minute and a half every 30 minutes, which was kind of ridiculous. So they recently got rid of that. You could run three minutes in chunks, get rid of prerolls for an hour and qualify for a 55% ad rev split. Now essentially what they’ve done is now streamers. If they run three minutes of ads an hour or more, they will qualify for a 55% ad split. If you don’t, you’ll get 30%. So essentially there is no incentive anymore. There’s no guaranteed pay. They’re giving you estimates just because they want to show you what you could potentially earn and try to lure you into running ads. But if you haven’t found ads meaningful before, nothing’s really changing. You’re not going to see that big payout that you’ve been seeing from other streamers. We had, I think King Italian posted, like getting offered $20,000 to run ads. You’re not going to see those numbers anymore. It’s basically run three minutes or more an hour. You’ll get 55% ad rev, which is better than 30%, and figure out how ads will work for you.
Pete Wilkins [00:37:55]:
Yeah, well, I mean, you’ve summed it up brilliantly there. It’s effectively you have no choice, but if you want to make a little bit more money in your choice, then choose one of these options and you’ll get somewhere between these two wildly far apart goalposts in terms of an estimate as to how much you make. I think the screenshot that I saw of the program actually even said that the estimates aren’t in any way guaranteed as well. They’re just there for illustrative purposes. So I was like, what’s the point in even showing an estimate if you can’t even commit that you’re somewhere between these massively wide goal posts. Okay, enough talking about Twitch’s new features. Let’s get on to the main meat of the podcast, which is talking about Emmett Shearer, who has been at Twitch since the very beginning, since the Just In TV days. He’s one of the original founders, has stepped down as CEO. Now he hasn’t been CEO for all of those 16 plus years, obviously, but in that time, Just In TV turned into Twitch TV and then grew to the point where it was acquired by Amazon. And Emmett has been through all of that and obviously he’s been the CEO for the last handful of years as well. And people, rightfully or wrongly, have had some pretty divisive opinions about him as a CEO. My personal take on it is he would never have wanted to be a CEO of a company. He looks to me like the classic kind of founder who really believed in the product, loved it and it grew massively, which must have been incredibly exciting for him. And then you get to the point where you kind of have to make difficult decisions and people’s jobs are on the line and then you’ve got the people who are creating on the platform whose jobs are on the line and you’re in the difficult position having to make difficult decisions. By no means has he made all the right decisions. I’m not trying to defend a lot of the things that he’s done, but I’m just saying he didn’t seem to me as the kind of person that wanted to be in the limelight as a CEO, as some people do. But just to cover the news, he shared a tweet which I think he instantly locked down so nobody could reply, which was an interesting way of sharing news. I guess he didn’t want to see what people thought about it. But in October, 2006, we started working on live video for the internet that became Twitch. More than 16 years later, I’m now a father and ready to move on to the next phase of my life. I wrote a blog post but the short version is thank you so much to everyone who built this with me. And he sort of shared some of the writing that he’d done for the blog post. And then Twitch eventually posted out an actual blog post called 16 Years of Twitch where he talks through the start with Justin and the other founders and their idea and how that turned into Twitch eventually and then sort of talked about the transition into the new CEO who is the current president. Well, he is now the current CEO, Dan Clancy, who we talked about his blog post earlier. I’m kind of rambling on here, but one thing I do want to mention just before we get your thoughts on this is there is a really good podcast that I listened to probably about two years ago, how I Built this with Guy Raz and he interviews Emmett Shearer. And if you’ve never really heard Emmett talk about the beginning days of Twitch, it is a really good listen. And it made me think of Emmett in a much better light, because you could hear the passion in his voice about what he’d built and his idea for twitch and how it grew massively. And in some ways, it grew way too big for him to handle as a CEO. But yeah. What were your initial thoughts when you saw this? Did you get early wind of it loco like you do with your pull so close to the beating heart that is Twitch?
Wow. So, yeah, I could talk about this for 3 hours, but I’m going to try to break it down succinctly here. I think I agree with what you’re saying in that Emmett Shearer was very much from like a business founder, I want to build a startup type perspective. It blew up and I give him a lot of credit for what he did to get Twitch to where it is today. I mean, ups and downs, pros and cons. Twitch is a successful business. It was acquired by Amazon for a billion dollars in 2014. So I feel like a lot of credit to it share for that. That being said, I have a lot of criticism about his leadership from a public facing view for the creators who make Twitch what it is today as a streamer on Twitch, I never met Emmett Sheer. I never got to speak with him. He was never really accessible. And of course, okay, you say he’s CEO of a big company like who can have time? But then I look at the CEO, the former CEO of YouTube, Susan Wajkiki, I’m probably saying that wrong, but you look at her experience and the way that she engaged with creators, you can just look at their Twitter accounts to even get a comparison. She was very interactive with the community, she went on creators shows, she uplifted their content and we got none of that from Emmett Shearer. So, from a leadership perspective, honestly, I’m glad to see him go and we’ll talk about the incumbent CEO here in just a minute. But I will say that he has brought a lot of transparency and has been more accessible than Emmett Shearer has. So, Emma Sheer, thanks for what you’ve done, but see you later. Let’s move on. Let’s try to get Twitch in the gear. Time to time to move.
Pete Wilkins [00:43:20]:
Yeah, I like it. To be honest, I feel a similar way. I think if my full time career was streaming on Twitch, I’d probably be much more opinionated about it. And maybe I’ve got a soft spot because I’ve listened to too many interviews of him of him growing up. And I can see just for contacts. Before doing this, I was like a software developer, so maybe it’s like the engineer in me that sees just like Emmett probably coding away and building something with his mates, and then it just grew massively out of control. And then you’ve got people sending you death threats because you don’t give them a 70 30 split. But, yeah, he’s made plenty of mistakes and I think probably the right thing. I’m glad that he stepped down rather than some massive controversy coming out and then him feeling like he has to step down. Good excuse when you have a child and you want to dedicate your life to that. I imagine he’s probably going to move on to another project at some point. But, yeah, let’s talk about his replacement because we actually did have some news about him last year, late last year, and when he announced the reduction of 70 30 split for the specific Twitch partners that had had that in their contract. So this famous letter, we talked about this again in great detail, I’m sure you did as well, loco on your live streams where Dan Clancy, who at the time was president but now is CEO, sort of announced the rollback and to make the whole platform wide be a 50 50 revenue split for subscriptions. And I think this was sort of at the same time when a lot of streamers were really pushing for a 70 30 split and they wanted Twitch to step up and offer that to all partners or all affiliates and partners. And this was kind of the nail in the coffin, wasn’t it, saying, actually the reverse is going to happen, anyone that was on the 70 30 split is going to be rolled back to the 50 50. So that’s a significant income drop for a lot of really big streamers and then also rolled out in the rest of the blog post talking about why that matters and why Twitch needed to do that. So it was an open and honest letter, but it was kind of slated. And it’s interesting now that we’re in this world with Dan as the new CEO of Twitch and kind of looking at what he was responsible for when he was president of Twitch. And this is one of the articles that comes to mind.
Yeah. So if you’re a streamer and you’re wondering why this affects you, why you should care that the CEOs changed hands, because we’ve already started to see the effects. Starting last year, Dan Clancy put this blog post together. And while this is the worst decision that Twitch has ever made, it is the worst blog post I have ripped into it countless times. It is a sign that Twitch is trying to be more communicative and transparent with the community and streamers, which is a really big stride considering we’ve seen Emma Share be in the dark and not really even acknowledge Twitch anywhere. So if you’re looking at the silver lining, good that they’re being more transparent. For example, today with the layoffs, they published a blog post just hours after the memo from Andy Jassy leaked to the public and the news caught wind of it. And I feel like in the past they probably would have never done this or maybe it would have taken a few days to put something together. And we also saw at the beginning of this year that Twitch published a roadmap, actually not one, but two different roadmaps, talking about the things that they want to do for this year and already meeting some of those goals. So Twitch has already made a lot of improvements with being way more communicative and transparent with the community. So Dan Clancy definitely have a lot of reservations about, but this is a good thing that we’re seeing Twitch talk to the community more because I feel like that’s been severely lacking and it’s created a huge divide between creators and the platform.
Pete Wilkins [00:47:07]:
Yeah, I mean, you’re right. You want the CEO of Twitch and the CEO of these big companies that are responsible for so many creators careers now to be as open and transparent as possible. Maybe not to the extent where your employees find out that they might have been fired through a blog post. Like you can be bleeding edge with your announcements, but maybe send out the HR email, well, at least at the same time so people know if they still have a job or not. But he’s also been responsible, I think, for a lot of the work in Guest Star, which I know that you were a part of a lot of the promotion for Guest Star. I’ve seen you in a few of the Twitch clips as well. So you’ve got to say they have pushed that tool hard and they keep adding new features for it and maybe that’s an indication that he cares about making sure that new streamers, especially people that aren’t really experts in OBS, and advanced tools of getting guests in and things like that to make it as easy as possible. So yeah, he was responsible for maybe the worst blog post that Loco has ever read, but also responsible for Guest Star, which I think is one of the better tools that Twitch has developed certainly in the last year.
Yeah, I would agree with that. Guest Star may be one of the best products out there. Honestly, I wish it was usable outside of Twitch because we are using video ninja. There’s plenty of other resources available, but Guest Star really gets it and understands what creators need to streamline their production. It makes it so easy to invite creators and guests on the show. So I’m excited to see what Twitch does with Guest Star and I think that Danny Clancy from actually being able to talk to him several times, most recently last week. So right before, I mean, I guess he probably knew, right, but right before that was announced that he was going to become CEO and he is definitely a little stubborn, but from when I met him last year to this year has become more, a little more receptive to listening to creators. So I have a little hope it’s there again, it’s really just about can Twitch actually open their eyes and their mind a little bit, listen to creators, keep in touch, keep communicating, and then also act on what they’re hearing faster than just getting around to making clips better on Twitter. Again, a little late for the set.
Pete Wilkins [00:49:37]:
If they follow through with the roadmaps that they spoke about at the start of this year, then they’re on the right path. So hopefully he’s going to bring Twitch into the real world of it being a properly run company where they follow through with Engineering Roadmaps and deliver the features that actually are going to make a difference to the creators on the platform. You’re not the only person that’s been skeptical about Dan Clancy. And actually this was before he was even the CEO. And this is a classic example of how often we pull up your tweets on this show because we’ve got a tweet from Loco here, which where you’ve shared a clip from TwitchCon, where famous streamer Jacob Bake, who I think did just win. Maybe best IRL streamer at the streamer awards just to give him his full title. Shared his opinion after a conversation with dan. And this again was when Dan was president, not CEO. And you might not be able to hear this, Loco, but hopefully the stream can. So I’ll share this.
Yes, it took you a long time.
Pete Wilkins [00:50:32]:
Honest dude, the president of Twitch, I’m.
Sure personally, I have no problem personally.
Pete Wilkins [00:50:36]:
With him, but honestly, I don’t feel confident as a streamer on the platform. As someone who is that out of.
Touch, what is the streamers need and why? I walked away feeling like depressed, seriously sad.
Pete Wilkins [00:50:55]:
Yes. So the, the audio from that isn’t particularly great because it’s from a convention. But just to repeat for anybody that didn’t catch it or people listening that didn’t have the subtitles, jacob said, I don’t feel confident as a streamer on the platform with someone who is that out of touch. I walked away feeling like depressed. So this is clearly a conversation maybe where he was suggesting or several streamers were suggesting different features that they thought Twitch needed or how to compete with the other platforms like YouTube and maybe being shut down. So this could have been, like you said, Loco, when he didn’t want to listen to other people’s opinions. Maybe he’s had more training since then that he needs to take feedback from the big streamers on the platform because people like Jake and Bake have been on the platform for a long time and have shaped a lot of the kind of content that is being created. So although in some ways CEOs can be like, I know better because I see all the data and stats from the back end as to what actually is going to make a difference. I think you’ve got to at least show appreciation to the people that have made it big on the platform and they’re generating money for the company and listen to their complaints about the platform.
Yeah, I think streamers don’t get enough credit for actually understanding the space very well and being able to provide meaningful feedback. I mean, yes, sure, there’s going to be a lot of bad feedback, a lot of bad ideas, but you really got to lean into the creators who understand what they’re talking about. People like Jacob who have been around, who pioneered IRL streaming. I mean, Jacob has definitely pushed boundaries in that sector, so maybe he got some training on how to listen better and not shut down creators ideas. Or maybe he’s actually understanding that in order for Twitch to not only succeed but exist in the future, they’re going to have to understand creators better than ever. And Twitch has not done a good job of that lately. So hopefully things turn around under Dan.
Pete Wilkins [00:52:46]:
Clancy now that is the perfect place to leave it, I think. I just want to say a massive thank you, Loco, for joining us. I speak for everybody that is listening or watching along live that your knowledge in this space is second to none and it’s been great being able to speak with you and hopefully have you on many times more. If Ben keeps having more kids, then we’re going to need more people to come on and speak about the industry news now. It’s been honestly really great to speak to you and thanks for sharing so much insight with everybody.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s been such a pleasure. I do this all the time, so it’s great to actually be able to talk shop with other creators, especially you Pete. Getting to sit down. And chat about these things. Always happy to talk, great to hear.
Pete Wilkins [00:53:30]:
Well, thanks everybody, for watching and for joining on in the live stream. And for anybody listening along to the podcast. In your podcast player of choice, do give it a review or a five star or a thumbs up. Whatever you can do to help promote the show and share it, share it with your streaming buddies. We’ll catch you next week. I’m not sure who will be co hosting, if Ben will be back or not. No pressure on his point. He’s got to learn how to change nappies and all those kind of things. I think you call them diapers over in the States. But anyway, we’ll catch you next week. Thanks very much.
The founder of Gaming Careers with a borderline unhealthy obsession for cameras, microphones, and all things streaming. He gets mistaken for Stephen Merchant at least 5 times a day.
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Next Podcast Livestream:
15th May 2023
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