Twitch Co-Founder Kevin Lin returns to Taiwan as free agent after Amazon Buyout

Business Next
Twitch Co-Founder Kevin Lin returns to Taiwan as free agent after Amazon Buyout

Game-streaming platform Twitch did so well that Amazon bought the startup for US$970 million in 2014

Taiwanese entrepreneur Kevin Lin made it by co-founding the live-streaming video service Twitch in the United States. Now he’s a free agent again – blame it on his success – with time for now to share his secrets with a hometown audience.

Twitch, a place for gamers to share their experience with a vast online audience, did so well that Amazon bought it in 2014. Now Lin is entertaining offers for new businesses including from Taiwan. Some in Taiwan hope Lin will return from San Francisco as a mentor for startups.

Lin is among 11 young entrepreneurs who created companies with a market value of more than US$10 billion, as evaluated by the Taiwan government’s Asian Silicon Valley Development Plan. The planners hope those business people will come back to provide one-on-one assistance to local startups.

A visit this month to Taiwan was a first-date of sorts. He came to assess the knowledge he has accumulated related to startups and how he can help Taiwanese firms that are easing into a new environment.

Twitch’s back story

Twitch set up a forum for gamers not to play but watch others play. Because the cost of setting up popular video games can cost around US$200, Twitch works as a demo of the product.

The witty banter of high-profile streamers and cheeky comments also make gameplay more entertaining. Twitch sponsors e-sports tournaments to increase viewer interest.

Twitch says it now gets 3.2 million unique broadcasters a month according to this report.

The seven-year-old firm succeeded on the popularity of video games with universal appeal despite language differences among players.

About one-fifth of Taiwan’s population or about 4.5 million unique users use Twitch every month, according to an interview with Lin as reported by Techcrunch. Twitch viewers in Taipei alone stream over a billion minutes a month in total.

Amazon quickly snapped up the company for US$970 million. The move allowed Lin to step down as COO at the beginning of 2018.

Also Read: YouTube, Twitch co-founders invest in Taiwanese news site The News Lens

Kevin Lin is already sharing with Taiwanese startups

Speaking on the sidelines of this month’s 2018 Taipei Computex tech show, Lin began talking about his time at Twitch. He spoke at an event hosted by a venture capital firm backed by the Taiwan government, Taiwania Capital, and the government-sponsored Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency.

Twitch’s three founders would hash out everyone’s issues to find solutions, Lin recalled at the forum. They worked on principles of “mutual trust and no fear of challenges,” the ex-COO added.

He encouraged Taiwan startups to cultivate their own organisational cultures to overcome barriers to doing business.

Taiwan can learn a lot from the California Silicon Valley, said David Weng, chief investment officer of the Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency. The island needs more people such as Lin to come back and share experience, he said.

Lin, 36, can serve as a mentor or instructor for aspiring startups, potentially contributing knowledge of international business models to assist Taiwan startups.

He emigrated to the US as a child and grew up in the state of Louisiana. Lin has a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Yale University. After graduating in 2004, he worked for a beverage company, in venture capital and in government.

Lin’s chat this month is part of a broader plan to expand the talent exchange between Silicon Valley and Taiwan. Taiwan is also loosening restrictions on foreigners working as well as offering other financial incentives to spur more investment in startups.

Lin says he is happy to share stories on how to get funded as well as how to work in interactive media and the gaming industry.

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