Amazon’s popular platform Twitch has seen a number of executives leave the company over the past year, often venturing to other projects within the industry, and some are claiming it is a clear sign that Twitch is losing touch with it’s community of gaming streamers.
According to Bloomberg, more than 300 employees left Twitch over the past year, with more than 60 departing in 2022 alone in a trend that seems to have no signs of slowing down, with a number of former executives believing that this is just the beginning of the negative trajectory.
“We went down the Silicon Valley route—hiring from Facebook, from Twitter” Marcus “DJ Wheat” Graham, former Twitch head of creator development who departed the company in January. Graham says that the new hires had little understanding of gaming or livestreaming and were “unwilling to learn what this community was, why it was special.”
Bloomberg cites another employee who adds; “The customer was the content creator. If you’re not passionate about the product, you’re not really looking at it from the customer’s lens. And so you don’t have the same level of empathy.”
Graham, along with COO Sara Clemens and chief content officer Michael Aragon have been some of the notable exits over the last year, and it has created a firmer hold for Chief Executive Officer Emmett Shear who seems to have a more engineering-first focus.
“It’s really hard to help Emmett understand anything qualitative,” one former Twitch employee says. “It has to be quantitative.”
“Twitch’s leadership is uncomfortable with mid-level and lower level employees pushing for change,” another added, per the report.
Bloomberg received an email from a company spokesman who contended that they input from twitch streamers guide every aspect of their decision making process: “The common thread for all employees is a drive to serve our community—from staff members who started as streamers themselves, to those who integrate themselves into Twitch culture when they start at Twitch,”
“Serving a community as dynamic as Twitch’s means there isn’t always one clear solution or answer, and as a result we have always believed in being experimental and innovative—even when that means launching a bold product or experiment that might have short-term risks, but will ultimately help us build the best possible solution.”
“I’d stand in meetings and say, ‘I really want you to try to forget everything that you know about, like Twitter,” Graham said. “Twitch is not Twitter, Facebook, or Pandora. Twitch is its own thing and it’s incredibly magical.”
Jason Maestas, who worked at Twitch between 2012 and 2019 in charge of influencer marketing, says that new hires “wanted to come into Twitch and quote-unquote make it better, make it a household name. They were part of other industries and wanted to lend their amorphous experience to this gaming cultural mainstay.”
Another former employee said that tensions arose between the new hires and the veteran leaders where “Nobody trusted each other or believed their colleagues were capable.”
“Kevin (Lin) was Twitch’s people person,” Graham says. “He was the one we’d turn to when we thought the boat was going off course. Once Kevin left, there were a lot more decisions made with the head rather than with the heart.”
Read the full interview at Bloomberg.