Former employees and a cofounder explain what went wrong at Microsoft’s Mixer, which is shutting down even after spending millions of dollars on top streamers like Ninja to compete with Amazon’s Twitch (MSFT)

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Microsoft plans to shut down its video streaming service Twitch, its answer to Amazon’s popular Twitch, by July 22.
Microsoft spent tens of millions of dollars on Mixer, particularly within the last year as it lured top streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins from Amazon’s Twitch with big-money exclusivity deals.
Business Insider spoke to six former Mixer employees, including the service’s cofounder, to find out what happened. They described issues from technical fumbles, to business miscalculations, and allegations of a “toxic” working environment.
Are you a current or former Mixer employee or insider? Contact these reporters via email at astewart@businessinsider.com and bgilbert@businessinsider.com,
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On June 22, seemingly out of nowhere, Microsoft announced plans to shutter a critical component of its Xbox ecosystem: The video streaming service Mixer, the tech titan’s rival to Amazon’s Twitch.

Some Mixer employees only found out moments before it was announced to the public. “We didn’t know this was coming,” Mixer program manager Tara Voelker said on Twitter. “We found out right before you.” Tuning in to live streams on Mixer, it was evident that the service’s lifeblood — its video streamers — were finding out in real time, too.

It was especially shocking given that Microsoft had signed exclusivity deals with top streamers Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek less than a year ago — deals that are said to be worth $30 million and $10 million, respectively. Both Ninja and Shroud are now back on the market as free agents.

So, what happened?

Six former Mixer employees who spoke with Business Insider, including cofounder Matt Salsamendi, described years of issues — from technical fumbles, to business miscalculations, and allegations of a “toxic” working environment — that precipitated the ultimate decision to shut down the service.

The former employees said the pricey decision to bring on Ninja and Shroud, intended to make Mixer more competitive with Twitch and YouTube in a hurry, ultimately didn’t pay off in the form of a vibrant, enduring community around the site.

They also described a cultural mismatch between Mixer and the larger Microsoft organization: Microsoft would assign managers with limited to no experience in the gaming industry to Mixer, former employees say, exacerbating long-running internal clashes over the direction of the platform.

Some of the employees asked not to be named to protect their business relationships, but their identities are known to Business Insider. Microsoft declined to make gaming chief Phil Spencer available for an interview, or provide information for this story beyond saying the company is “committed to redeploying people and technology across our team wherever possible” and sharing comments Spencer made in a blog post.

This is how Microsoft’s Mixer went from promising acquisition to suddenly shuttered in just a few years.

Mixer was always a long shot in a market dominated by Twitch and YouTube.

Mixer was founded by Matt Salsamendi and James Boehm as a Seattle-based startup called Beam, an upstart rival to …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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