Jeff Bezos is a gamer if you count flying rockets into space, co-founder of Amazon-owned Twitch says

  • Jeff Bezos plays games “here and there” but you wouldn’t call him a gamer, says Kevin Lin, co-founder of video game streaming platform Twitch.
  • “He’s certainly very curious about what we do” and offers ideas, Lin says.
  • Twitch operates rather autonomously within the cash cow Amazon Web Services cloud computing division, Lin says.

Kevin Lin, co-founder of Amazon-owned video game streaming platform Twitch, told CNBC on Tuesday that Jeff Bezos plays games “here and there” but he wouldn’t call him a gamer.

“Is Bezos a gamer? I guess if you count flying spaceships into space, maybe that’s a game,” said Lin, who sold Twitch to Amazon for nearly $1 billion in 2014.

Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, also heads up the Blue Origin private space company, which successfully launched a rocket on Sunday. Bezos is the richest person in the world with a fortune of nearly $129 billion as of Monday’s stock market close.

“I think [Bezos] plays games here and there. He’s certainly very curious about what we do” and offers ideas, said Lin.

However, Lin said Twitch operates rather autonomously within the Amazon Web Services cloud computing division, a cash cow that saw revenue grow 49 percent in the first quarter to $5.44 billion. AWS contributed about 11 percent to Amazon’s total revenue for the period, up from 8.5 percent in the previous quarter.

Twitch, the world’s leading social video network for gamers, allows players of popular video games to stream their games and it allows others to watch. The average user of Twitch is 26 years old and watches about 2 ½ hours per day.

“As it turns out, people just like to watch other people play that have varying levels of skill, or just a strong personality that might appeal to you,” Lin said in a “Squawk Box” interview.

To people who ask why would anyone want to watch somebody else play video games, Lin said: “It’s not really unlike watching someone play basketball or other ball sports. It’s really about connecting with the streamer, depending what they love. In our case, it’s mostly video games.”

Popular video game players like Tyler Blevins, known as Ninja, can make a lot of money, of which Twitch gets a cut. Blevins told CNBC in March that he makes more than $500,000 per month playing “Fortnite” — a world building, survival game that’s currently one of the hottest pop culture phenomenons.

“It takes a lot of dedication to play games at a high skill level. So ‘Fortnite,’ a lot of folks watch other people play, whether that’s on Twitch or lesson-driven VOD, on-demand videos,” Lin said.

Sports games, such as “NBA 2K18,” are also big on Twitch.

“Esports in general continues to grow,” Lin said. “It’s a big part of what we do at Twitch. And a big part of the ecosystem we support really starts from the ground up from the players, the coaches, the commentators that can build a career streaming on Twitch.”

While it’s free to stream on Twitch and free to watch, partner players make money in two primary ways on a revenue-sharing basis with Twitch.

“We have almost 2 million people that broadcast every month. About 27,000 of those are fully partnered. Another 200,000 are affiliates, that are semi-partnered,” Lin said. “They make money from advertising [and] from subscriptions. Remember, people pay $5 a month or directly [to a streamer] or Twitch Prime. But the content is free. They’re really paying to support the streamer.”

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