$60 million in-hand, LA startup Azubu wants to overtake Twitch's throneBy Gabe Carey
This late in the game, taking on Twitch and YouTube in the livestream gaming business would be absuredly difficult. Nevertheless, one Los Angeles startup is crazy enough to try and considering its ability to rack in nearly $60 million by way of Sapinda Group, based in London, it may not be so far-fetched an endeavor after all. This is on top of the $34.5 million Sapinda invested back in March 2014, paired with contributions from Sallfort Privatbank in Switzerland.
The differentiator? Azubu is focusing on eSports live streaming and the eSports ecosystem, claims CEO Ian Sharpe. While anyone from Bob Ross to PewDiePie can stream on Twitch, Azubu remains exclusively for the hardcore competitive scene.
As of October 2015, Azubu was serving 9 million unique monthly visitors which may sound like a lot but is way behind well-established competitor Twitch. However, Sharpe says that thanks to the aforementioned recent investments, Azubu will be able to expand into emerging markets like Brazil, India, China, and the Philippines, making use of their native tongues, an area larger outlets like Twitch and YouTube are neglecting in the eSports space.
Recently, Azubu managed to acquire exclusive rights to stream UOL BoaCompra's eSports coverage, the XLG League included, in Brazil. The two companies will work together in video content production and media placements, thereby allocating ad sales between themselves.
The prospect is promising enough, according to an analyst at Newzoo that he suspects Azubu will be bought out by a TV broadcast or digital media company in the next two years.
As for Azubu's moral stance on Twitch, Sharpe says, "When you look at eSports as an ecoystem, you don't want a monopoly because that's bad for business. Some of the teams and leagues would love to see a great alternative to Twitch and they're rooting for us."