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Emmett Shear

CEO of Twitch

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 07, 2016

Discussion

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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
Hi - I'm Emmett Shear, founder and CEO of Twitch and a part-time partner at Y Combinator, where I advise fledgling startups on product and strategy. ​If you have questions, please fire away!
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Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Thanks for doing the AMA Emmett! Community growth is something that is hard to do well (Product Hunt, Twitch, reddit are examples of really great ones) Can you walk us through how you grew the sense of community from the first few users to the first thousand at Twitch? In what ways did you leverage the community for growth? Thanks! Sydney
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@sydney_liu_sl We were fortunate enough at Twitch to have a running start, because there was already an organic gaming community from Justin.tv that we could tap into. You can't make communities. The right metaphor is planting a forest. At most you try to make sure the conditions are right and plant the right set of initial trees, but after that your control is limited to altering the parameters of the environment to the degree that's even possible. The root of community is the same as communication, and that's not an accident. Communities will form anywhere that people regularly communicate with each other. So to grow a community, find some way to help people connect and talk with each other. After that, there's not much more you can do except deal with the occasional weevil infestation.
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QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@eshear @sydney_liu_sl I had the same experience building the Button Poetry community (hit over 100,000,000 view over new years). There was already a poetry community in existence, we just delivered a mode of transportation and place to share ideas and supported it. However, my question is, as the community grows and different genre pockets develop. How do you scale and deliver content to people who have varying options without stirring the pot too much but still monetizing (ads not ticking people off, subscription chose your own $$...)? You can never make Everyone happy...
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@queenleariv @sydney_liu_sl Ah, this is an excellent question. I mentioned this elsewhere on the thread, but it's worth repeating. I look to communities like Reddit as having solved this the best way: give the power to the community to create new areas, and build powerful tools for the creators of those new areas to create the kind of space they want.
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Michael@cmtdb · Head of Community, OnePlus
@eshear hey. I'm responsible for the community at OnePlus, a smartphone OEM whose main (arguably) differentiating factor is its community. Going up against the main players, I guess the community is one of your main differentiating factors as well. Question: when you're growing really fast, inevitably, new community members start resembling the old ones less and less. What are some ways in which you keep it all together while inviting new types of people into the mix? Thanks in advance. Ps. check Lever no Kappa
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@cmtdb I think Reddit has done the most amazing job here. The subreddit system allows new communities of people to form, or people who miss old communities that have grown bigger to make new ones. You have to empower your growing users to create the kinds of spaces they want to be in.
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Eddie Schodowski@eddie_schodowski
@eshear Do you think you can predetermine what fields are going to be auspicious or is it more of a retrospective thing? I ask this because Sam Altman is CS183B talked about the particular passion coming first and then the startup, but also mentioned that you should think about which fields will be successful. How do you blend ignoring others and doing original things for yourself and considering which fields will be successful?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@eddie_schodowski The best answer I can give to this is something I learned from Paul Buchheit: find something that will make a small number of people really really happy. That's the best combination of great area and actual product insight you're going to get at the beginning.
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Mikkel I. Karlsen@thekarlsen · Junior Consultant
@eddie_schodowski Hey Eddie, I might be a bit late here. But Technology Foresight (and Technology Futures) are actually pretty established domains within the academic literature. You could look-up something like Technology Roadmapping. Of course, no one can foresee the future, but you can help shape it, and understand the current technological changes if you use the right approach and tools.
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Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
@eshear long time no see (last time at founder talks in vienna and the PH office) sport streaming lives of the fact that there is a power distribution between games (soccer -> long nothing -> other stuff -> other stuff) (ok i am officially clueless when it comes to sports but you know what i mean) esport on the other hand has a huge fragmented market - do you believe we will see similar viewer distributions as in normal sports in 5-10 years from now? or do you think it will stay highly fragmented?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@andreasklinger The sports industry, as you say, has a few really huge hit sports and then numerous much less successful ones. Esports is much more fragmented, and I believe likely to stay that way. Sports come and go very slowly, we are still playing largely the same game of baseball today we were 100 years ago. Video games come and go relatively quickly, and that's unlikely to change, so it will be harder for any given esport to become a soccer-sized dynasty on its own. On the other hand, predicting the future is impossible :-)
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Jourdan Bul-lalayao@jourdanb21 · Co-Founder & CTO, Jobox
Hey Emmett! Thanks so much for your AMA here on Product Hunt!! I know a lot of people who use Twitch not only to consume content but even to produce their own, so thanks for giving them the platform to be able to do so! I even use it as well. My question is intentionally vague as I'd love for you to answer based on your interpretation of the question :). If you had only one tip to share with entrepreneurs on how to build a successful startup, what is your absolute #1 tip?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@jourdanb21 One way to start a startup is to build something for yourself. The trick here is what "build for yourself" means. Many entrepreneurs seem to build things that they think are really cool. That's not building for yourself, that's building for an imagined other who is perceiving what you've built. Building for yourself means building something you can't wait to actually use day after day, even if it's totally lame. One thing I think school gets really wrong is that it teaches you that the evaluation of what's good and bad comes from outside yourself, from teachers and tests and popularity contests with other students. We're not very good at teaching people to listen to that little voice in their head that tells them what they actually really want. And that's the most important voice to listen to. On the other hand, there are a ton of successful startups where people built something for a market opportunity that they understood in a purely analytical way that have been incredibly successful. So the real lessons is probably "there are a lot of ways to be successful, just like there are a lot of ways to fail".
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Junius@juniusfree
Hi @eshear My question is related to product development. How will you spend your time if you've got one hour to solve a user problem/need? Thanks!
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@juniusfree Honestly, give up. There's no way to do product development in one hour. If I were starting a new business, the first hour would probably be spent reading up on current players in adjacent spaces.
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gnafster@gnafster · -
Hi Emmett, I've been running a clothing company for the past 9 months and we've had sales (some months are good, some months aren't when we stop marketing), and we also have tested out several marketing channels with varying successes. A particular event (held twice a year) has grossed the highest sales and I'm wondering how we should sustain such sales over the other 10 months in the year. Further, while we 'think' we may know our 'market', we're unable to pinpoint exactly who these people really are. I hope you'll be able to help answer the questions below: 1) How would you suggest we get to 'know' our market - does this mean surveys on each customer, asking her why she has bought our product (note: we have a hypothesis and why people will buy but have not established whether this is absolutely right)? Otherwise, how should we get to know our market better? What kind of data in general is relevant that we should collect? 2) Do we replicate the 'market' in the highest grossing event by finding other events which are similar and have similar customers? Thank you so much.
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@gnafster Knowing your market is about talking to people who have bought your clothing (and I suggest actually talking to them, in person if possible) and asking them about what they like about your clothes, what other clothes they buy, how they shop, what they read, etc. Understanding them as people. It's also about talking to people who haven't bought your clothing, but who you think would be great customers, and understanding them as well. As far as replicating the successful event, it's probably worth trying, but without knowing a ton more detail it's hard to say whether it was an one-off accident or a replicable strategy. Generally speaking you want to put your effort into marketing strategies that scale up, which means you could do them at 1x, 10x, 100x, or 1000x the size. Press is the canonical example of marketing that doesn't scale.
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Shaun Modi@shaunmodi · Designing for Product Hunt and TM
@eshear Thanks for doing the live chat. Can you talk about why you showcased Bob Ross films? My wife and I enjoy it!
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@shaunmodi The head of creative, @billmoorier, loved Bob Ross and thought people would enjoy the original Creative "streamer" on Twitch. Turns out he was right!
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QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@eshear I am so glad that you are chatting with the community today. Thanks for your time!! I want to know how the Charity Speed Run trend came about and what you see for such philanthropy driven e-events going in the future. (the speed runs right now are great!!! and great causes!)
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@queenleariv Charity Speed Run came about the same way most Twitch ideas do: we saw the community doing something awesome (speed runs for charity) and we asked if we could help amplify that in any way.
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Eddie Schodowski@eddie_schodowski
@eshear The best kernels for startups seem to come from founders being self-indulgent and not thinking about their commercial viability or what everyone else is doing and just building solutions. How do you train yourself to see significantly unique problems that are so deeply rooted in the day-to-day, and how do you decide where to begin on the product/solution to the problem? How do you train yourself to think of completely original ideas?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@eddie_schodowski Paul Graham wrote a great essay on this topic: http://paulgraham.com/startupide...
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Jon Abrams@jonathanabrams · JavaScript Hacker
@eshear How important is competitive gaming (aka eSports) to the future of Twitch?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@jonathanabrams Competitive gaming is huge for Twitch. Even though it makes up a surprisingly small percentage of our overall traffic, we think it's one of the best ways for new people to learn about game streaming.
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QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@eshear @jonathanabrams Smash Melee!!!
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QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@eshear I also have to ask the question about #GamersGate. Twitch has a wonderful growing female gaming population. Are you doing anything specific to support that or is it community driven? Has there been a change based on the conversation and controversy?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@queenleariv It's really awesome to hear that you've enjoyed the growing Twitch female gaming community. I mentioned this in a previous answer, but I really believe it's impossible for a platform to support a community directly. We can't take credit for it, we are just very pleased it's happening. I think we mostly have to stay out of the way. If a fragile growing community is like a young forest, the main thing you can do is make sure that you keep the foreign invasive species from swooping in before the community is robust and mature enough to defend itself. At Twitch, we are committed to being a home that can welcome gamers from all different backgrounds, and help them find a community that accepts them. That means investing in better tools for discovery, for moderation, and for sharing.
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QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@eshear @queenleariv I like the idea of letting things happen naturally and how the community wants to support it and just helping make that possible by removing barriers. Thanks for all the work you do and supporting a positive inclusive community. Keep up the great work! Lastly... did you see that Louis Vuitton featured a Final Fantasy female character in their latest high fashion spread? Thoughts? http://wwd.com/media-news/fashio...
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Megan Zlatos@megan_zlatos
Hi Emmett, I'm curious about the rumors that Twitch will be expanding to Alaska... Why such an unusual choice?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@megan_zlatos While I can neither confirm nor deny our upcoming Alaskan expansion, I believe extensive research is going to be required for any company thinking of laying the groundwork in our largest state.
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Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@eshear where do you think the future of live streaming and video is heading? do you think podcasts, videos, and live streams will eventually converge into a new kind of medium?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@alexcartaz Actually, I think the opposite is going to happen. The basic building blocks of sharing A/V are getting easier and easier to use, and there's going to be an explosion in the number of different ways to share what you love.
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Pierre Vannier@pierre_vannier · Founder and CEO @flint
@eshear Hi Emmet, I will be interviewed by one of your recruiter at 8:30 PST today (within one hour). What would be your best advice to rock that interview 😀? More generally speaking, what are you primarily looking for in a candidate? Thanks a lot 🙌🏻 Pierre
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@pierre_vannier Just be yourself. And have yourself be someone who is great at programming! :-)
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
Thanks everyone for your questions. Signing off to get back to work!
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Taran Singh@taz159357
@eshear Hi Emmet, as you may or may not know, Gross Gore's stream channel got banned on Twitch. Gross Gore regrets everything he said and is deeply sorry. His fan base are really sad about his stream being taken down. A petition has been created, with a vast increase of signatures {https://www.change.org/p/ali-lar...}. Please can you consider his punishment on Twitch and let him stream again? I am also a fan, and it is a real shame to see such a popular streamer receive a harsh punishment despite trying to defend himself. Thank you.
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Taran Singh@taz159357
@eshear If that has not convinced you, please can you take the time to read an official statement from the streamer himself {https://www.facebook.com/Grossie...}
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mike lin@mikelinsf · Founder & CEO, influencersTV
What was the inspiration behind twitch and did you ever pivot?
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jack rometty@rometty_ · student
@mikelinsf The story of how Twitch came to be is super interesting. Watch it here:
:D
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Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Dev
Hi Emmett. How did you get your first users and were there interesting ways you grew that userbase?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@kingsongchen We got our first users from Justin.tv. We grew that userbase by finding people who streamed games and asking them (directly or indirectly) what we could do to make Twitch an amazing place for them to stream.
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Beats@officebeats · Product Manager, OutcomeHealth.com
Knowing that you were up against a behemoth like Youtube, how do you stay ahead and ensure your product remains a top choice for users?
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Emmett Shear@eshear · CEO, Twitch
@officebeats Know who your most important customers are, know how to listen to them, build things that make them happy. Repeat.