The Twitch Mafia

Kanishka
October 2, 2023
Tech Mafias

Co-founders of Twitch, Emmett Shear, Kyle Vogt, and Justin Kan, introduced the platform in June 2011 as a spin-off of the general-interest streaming platform called Justin.tv. Amazon acquired Twitch in August 2014 for $970 million. Now, it is a subsidiary of Amazon that operates a popular livestreaming platform for video gamers. It offers gamers the ability to:

  • Broadcast
  • Chat
  • Watch video games played‍


The Twitch Mafia

Below we highlight the top 22 companies from the Twitch Mafia, but a total of 42 companies have been founded and the alumni group has collectively raised $15.4 billion as per Crunchbase data. Gaming, web3, transportation, and AI are the industries that the most startups have been founded in by former employees.

PS: Are you a Twitch employee/alum interested in getting your community together to invest in the community (and earn carry/other benefits along the way)? Or are you a member of another community that you think would make for an amazing startup investment community? 😉

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Most money raised

Cruise‍

Cruise is the second billion-dollar startup founded by Kyle Vogt. Before founding Cruise, he was on the the co-founding team of Twitch. When he moved on from Twitch, he was looking to start something new with three criteria in mind:

→  direct and positive impact on people

→  solving a technical problem

→  scalability to impact people at scale

And so he came up with the crazy idea of self-driving cars. His initial idea was actually a self-driving roof rack but one of his investors urged him to improve on the idea (a perfectly reasonable request). Cruise has so far raised $15.1 billion in funding.

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Read about the Cruise Mafia here.

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Favorite rising star

Rye

Just like Kyle Vogt, Justin Kan co-founded Twitch before starting his own company "Rye" in the world of web3.

Rye aims to revolutionize the e-commerce industry by using crypto tokens to create what they describe as a "Spotify for ecommerce" or a "Shopify for web3."

The platform plans to offer a one-click API for merchants to showcase their products on Rye's marketplace, which can then be embedded in various websites and apps. By offering a crypto token to participants, Rye intends to significantly reduce transaction fees compared to traditional e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Shopify, potentially charging only a fraction of a percent.

Rye is led by CEO Arjun Bhargava, with Justin Kan serving as head of sales and acting as an evangelist for the startup. The team includes other co-founders with backgrounds in technology and entrepreneurship, and they have secured $14 million in venture capital funding led by a16z crypto.

A16z Crypto Leads $14 Million Bet On Rye, New Web3 Commerce Startup From  Justin Kan
Source: Forbes

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A list of all the amazing companies covered:

  • Cruise
  • Range
  • thirdweb
  • Ampverse
  • Walnut
  • Fractal
  • Freedom Games
  • Popdog
  • Jam.gg
  • Zerocater
  • AcadArena
  • Rye
  • Paper
  • VShojo
  • Zeet
  • Freshcut
  • NEWNESS
  • Salut
  • Frontier
  • SPICYEST
  • Loaded
  • Ex Populus
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Cruise

Founder: Kyle Vogt
Twitch Role: Co-Founder
Capital Raised: $15.1B
Investors: Spark Capital
Stage: Secondary Market

Cruise builds self-driving vehicles that safely connect people to places, things, and experiences.

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Range

Founder: David Cusatis
Twitch Role: Software Engineer
Capital Raised: $12M
Investors: Red Sea Ventures
Stage: Series A

Range is an all-in-one wealth management platform that empowers high earners to optimize their finances, from investments to insurance and retirement planning.

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thirdweb

Founder: Jake Loo
Twitch Role: Software Engineer
Capital Raised: $29.3M
Investors: Mark Cuban
Stage: Series A

thirdweb is an end to end developer tool accelerating teams building web3 apps, games, tokens, NFTs, marketplaces, DAOs and more.

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Ampverse

Founder: Matthias Meti Beyer, Ferdinand Gutierrez
Twitch Role: Director of Content, Southeast Asia
Capital Raised: $12M
Investors: David Ng
Stage: Series A

Ampverse has been in Asia’s gaming ecosystem since 2019, and connects gamers and brands with creative marketing and tech solutions. Backed by Tencent and other investors, it's fueled growth for brands like Coca-Cola and Red Bull.

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‍Walnut

Founder: Abel Chan
Twitch Role: Product Manager
Capital Raised: $113.6M
Investors: Weekend Fund
Stage: Series A

Walnut is a lending platform that assists people in healthcare financing.

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Fractal

Founder: Justin Kan
Twitch Role: Co-Founder
Capital Raised: $35M
Investors: a16z
Stage: Series A

Fractal's mission is to enhance the gaming experience. It's an all-in-one digital arcade for gamers to discover new games, join events, earn rewards, and for game developers to acquire engaged players. Founded by industry veterans including Justin Kan from Twitch, Robin Chan from Zynga, and Dan Borstelmann from Google.

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Freedom Games

Founder: Ben Robinson
Twitch Role: Director of Wiki Partnerships
Capital Raised: $10M
Investors: Play Ventures
Stage: Series A

Freedom Games operates as a game publisher that provides support to independent game developers.

Ben Robinson, COO and co-founder at Freedom Games, is a lifelong gamer who led a successful Counter-Strike team at 15 and excelled in World of Warcraft and DayZ. He created dayzwiki.com, later sold to Curse, and played a key role in growing Curse's gaming wikis like Gamepedia.

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Popdog

Founder: Alexander Garfield
Twitch Role: COO, GoodGame
Capital Raised: $9M
Investors: Makers Fund
Stage: Series A

Popdog is a technology and services company focused on fixing core problems in the esports and live streaming industry.

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Jam.gg

Founder: Benjamin Devienne
Twitch Role: Head of Research Strategy
Capital Raised: $14.9M
Investors: Y Combinator
Stage: Series A

A free, web-based platform for playing party games. Over 5 million users worldwide, with a team of 60+ talents creating a social gaming ecosystem.

Benjamin Devienne, Founder Jam.gg is an economist-turned-game developer, startup advisor, and data science expert. He is part of the EA, Ubisoft, Gameloft, Facebook, and Twitch alumni.

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ZeroCater

Founder: Arram Sabeti
Twitch Role: Office Operations
Capital Raised: $37.9M
Investors: Rainfall Ventures
Stage: Series C

ZeroCater builds corporate catering and cafeteria solutions employees love as they transition to the hybrid workplace.

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AcadArena

Founder: Kevin Hoang
Twitch Role: Scholastic Program Manager
Capital Raised: $12.2M
Investors: Hustle Fund
Stage: Series A

Kevin Hoang, a Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee, leads AcadArena as CEO, connecting students through gaming and culture for a more engaged world.

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Rising Stars

Rye

Founder: Justin Kan
Twitch Role: Co-Founder
Capital Raised: $14M
Investors: a16z crypto
Stage: Seed

Rye builds developer tools and APIs to build eCommerce experiences.

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Paper

Founder: James Sun
Twitch Role: Group Product Manager
Capital Raised: $9.3M
Investors: Initialized Capital
Stage: Seed

James Sun, the founder of Paper, an NFT payment startup, is focused on enabling decentralized applications. He's a Forbes 30 Under 30 and Thiel Fellow with two company sales, one to Amazon.

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VShojo

Founder: Justin Ignacio
Twitch Role: Founding Team
Capital Raised: $11M
Investors: GFR Fund
Stage: Seed

VShojo is bringing Japanese creator culture to the world, empowering VTubers to connect with and grow their fanbase across all digital platforms. At the intersection of gaming, anime and influencer culture, over 7 million fans enjoy content created by the VShojo team.

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Zeet

Founder: Johnny Dallas, Zihao Zhang
Twitch Roles: Software Engineers
Capital Raised: $6.3M
Investors: Sequoia Capital
Stage: Seed

Zeet is a developer-focused application platform that deploys code or app to AWS, GCP, and other cloud providers.

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FreshCut

Founder: James Kuk, Ernest Le, Ben Stueck
Twitch Role: Global Head - Content Partnerships & Business Development, Director, Game Publisher & Developer Partnerships
Capital Raised: $15M
Investors: GSR
Stage: Seed

FreshCut is a community focused gaming content platform.

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NEWNESS

Founder: Jenny Qian, Youri Park
Twitch Role: Senior Director of Business Strategy, Software Engineer
Capital Raised: $3.5M
Investors: Cowboy Ventures
Stage: Seed

NEWNESS is a live streaming platform for the beauty community and a platform for makeup enthusiasts to share experiences.

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Salut

Founder: Matthew DiPietro
Twitch Role: SVP, Marketing and Communications
Capital Raised: $1.3M
Investors: Precursor Ventures
Stage: Pre-Seed

Salut is a social video platform for fitness.

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Ex Populus

Founder: Nik Adams
Twitch Role: Instream Video Advertisement. Europe & Russia
Capital Raised: $8.5M
Investors: Maven Capital
Stage: Seed

Ex Populus is a Web3 video game publishing company.

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Loaded

Founder: Colin DeShong
Twitch Role: COO, GoodGame
Capital Raised: $20M
Investors: Coral Tree Partners
Stage: Seed

Loaded is a dynamic management and advisory firm dedicated to transforming the gaming industry.

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Frontier

Founder: Michael Chiang
Twitch Role: Data Scientist
Capital Raised: $2.8M
Investors: FJ Labs
Stage: Seed

Frontier is an online hiring platform that helps businesses in finding qualified candidates.

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SPICYEST

Founder: David Liao
Twitch Role: Science
Capital Raised: $12.1M
Investors: Dragonfly
Stage: Seed

SPICYEST is a digital assets consulting firm, offering tailored advice and liquidity solutions to businesses in this rapidly changing industry.

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