Amazon announced it bought Twitch on Monday for $970 million in an all-cash acquisition. It's a bit of a head-spinner, since the online video industry was waiting for the sure-thing, soon-to-come announcement from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) that it had acquired the wildly popular live-streaming site.
Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2014.
Just three weeks ago, Justin.tv, parent company of Twitch, shut down operations completely, transferring its Pro user accounts over to Twitch and encouraging its other subscribers to migrate from Justin.tv's site to the video game-centric site. It looked like a pretty clear signal that a deal with Google was just about done, obviating any further need for Justin.tv, for whom Twitch was a breakout channel, to continue operations.
The details of how Amazon stole Twitch away from Google are sure to emerge eventually, but for now, Amazon is apparently thrilled with the win.
"Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month--from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. "Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community."
In a letter to Twitch subscribers, CEO Emmett Shear talked about shared values between the two companies, and the importance of maintaining its independence as a live-streaming site for gamers.
"We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster," he said. "We're keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon's support we'll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch."
Updated with confirmation from Amazon about the acquisition.
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