Both Co-Founders Of Microsoft’s Twitch Competitor Mixer Are Departing The Business

By 10/11/2019
Both Co-Founders Of Microsoft’s Twitch Competitor Mixer Are Departing The Business

Just two months after Microsoft’s Mixer made its biggest strategic move yet by signing an exclusive livestreaming deal with Twitch’s (now-former) No. 1 star, Ninja, the platform is losing both of its young co-founders.

James J. Boehm announced his departure on Twitter last week, and yesterday, Matt Salsamendi also took to Twitter to reveal he’s leaving as well.

In a tweet thread, Boehm wrote, “When we started Mixer over five years ago, @MattSalsamendi and I could only have dreamed it would grow into the globally known brand and amazing community it is today.” He added, “Although I will be leaving Mixer, this community and what we’ve built together will always be a part of who I am.”

Salsamendi expressed similar sentiments in his letter, which also chronicled his fond memories of Mixer’s beginnings. The company, originally called Beam, grew out of Salsamendi’s hobby of hosting Minecraft servers where fellow gamers could play and build worlds for one another to visit. When Microsoft acquired Beam for an undisclosed sum in 2016, Salsamendi was just 18, and Boehm was 21.

“Going into acquisition as a young founder, I truthfully wasn’t sure exactly what to expect,” Salsamendi wrote. “The support we received from across Microsoft was humbling for me, and the experience I’ve gained in the last three years is irreplaceable.”

While Boehm didn’t say what he plans to do post-Mixer, Salsamendi laid out exactly what he’s excited to get into. “Lasers!” he wrote. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of using light to represent music. Growing up, I dreamed of running lighting for EDM festivals and tours, and I want to pursue that passion in a bigger way.”

Mixer has become a sizeable platform since its Microsoft acquisition, attracting more than 10M active users. It has a total of around 70K streamers as of August, compared to Twitch’s 1.5M at the same time. Its seismic deal with Ninja almost certainly upped its household-name-recognizability factor, and originally, the partnership looked to be doing its job. Ninja’s first stream on the platform was a long, splashy affair, live from music festival Lollapalooza, and at one point drew 80K concurrent viewers. Over that weekend (which was just a couple of days after he and Mixer announced their deal), he acquired nearly 400K paying subscribers — an impressive debut slightly dampered by the fact that Mixer was giving out two months of free subscriptions to anyone who signed up for a new account and followed him.

Ninja has since accumulated 2.3M followers on Mixer, a large following, but still a fraction of the 14.7M he had on Twitch. And while he’s pulling decent numbers (he’s streaming at time of writing, a late Friday afternoon, and has 12K viewers), that growth hasn’t yet helped the platform’s other creators, according to new data from StreamElements, a platform that develops tools for streamers and regularly produces data-driven reports about the state of the streaming space.

The third quarter of this year saw a drop in hours of streaming watched across the board, from YouTube to Twitch to Mixer, per the report. The only platform that saw an increase from second to third quarter was Facebook.

“While we regularly see a drop in hours watched from August to September, there are some interesting Q3 developments worth noting in the live streaming space,” Donor Nir, StreamElements’ chief executive, told VentureBeat. “For one, Ninja’s move to Mixer turned out to not be the game changer they probably hoped when comparing their market share with Twitch’s.”