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Twitch’s chief content officer walks out with controversy over whirlwind creator pay

(Bloomberg) — Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators told employees she was leaving the company the same day she announced changes to how the video game streaming platform would pay top talent.

In a letter to employees obtained by Bloomberg on Wednesday, Constance Knight said she is embarking on a “new adventure that provides me with exciting opportunities for growth both professionally and personally” which is also “in the creator space. “. Knight previously held similar roles at Instagram and YouTube.

Knight quit after Twitch, owned by Inc., announced it was cutting the amount of money its biggest streamers can earn from subscriptions. Online celebrities, like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, were able to earn millions of dollars at times playing games and chatting with fans with a deal that offered them up to 70% of revenue from fan subscriptions to their chains.

But in a bid to increase profitability, Twitch President Dan Clancy said in a blog post that starting next June, these top streamers will receive 70% of revenue up to $100,000 earned, then will revert to the standard 50/50 split. Bloomberg News reported on planned changes to revenue sharing in April.

“We can’t run this service unless you’re making money,” Clancy said. “It’s not a disadvantage; it is by design. This innate partnership is why we support the careers and ambitions of all streamers as if they were our own. Clancy said the “vast majority” of Twitch streamers operate with the 50/50 revenue split. A lack of transparency and inconsistency over who gets what, and on what terms, has necessitated an overhaul of the policy, he said.

Twitch declined to comment on Knight’s resignation or sentiment within the company, and it’s unclear whether Knight’s departure is related to the compensation issue.

The changes have exacerbated concerns among current and former employees that Twitch and Clancy are losing touch with content creators who draw 2.5 million concurrent viewers to the platform at any one time. Although only a small number of live streamers benefit from the premium subscription model that allowed them to earn more, Clancy noted that more than 22,000 streamers hoped Twitch would choose to move them all to a 70/30 split. Twitch is diverging from its industry rivals as YouTube Gaming cuts its premium subscription product by 30% while other platforms like OnlyFans or Patreon take 20% or less.

Clancy said Twitch is expensive to run. Unlike TikTok and YouTube Gaming, Twitch streams 2.5 million hours of live content every day, across the globe. The technology, provided by Amazon Web Services, needed to support long-duration live video at this scale is expensive, he said. Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014.

Twitch is focusing its efforts on getting streamers to run ads, Bloomberg reported — a strategy that can be lucrative, but also disruptive to the live experience.

Twitch lost both its Chief Content Officer and Chief Operating Officer earlier this year. Neither was replaced. Twitch’s remaining top executives, including Clancy and co-founder and CEO Emmett Shear, are more product-focused than creator-focused, people familiar with the matter said. A Silicon Valley staple, Clancy has held senior engineering positions at Nextdoor and Google. There are few voices representing Twitch’s creator community at the leadership table, according to two former managers.

“Dan is the ultimate embodiment of a lifelong enterprise tech professional coming from a company that isn’t a creator first and is trying to right a ship that seemed to be veering into unprofitability,” said Zachary Diaz, former director of emerging content at Twitch, who also spent eight months as TikTok’s U.S. head of creator management for its Live platform. “He’s this embodiment of ‘the feeling of the Creator is secondary to everything.’ There is no leader to push this away, so it is now the direction of Twitch.

Some employees shared their objections to the revenue-sharing changes with colleagues, according to a former manager and a current employee who asked not to be named while discussing private information. Twitch recently loosened its exclusivity agreements with top creators, raising concerns that some may feel less loyal to Amazon’s live-streaming platform.

(Updates with more information on Twitch’s history in the eighth paragraph.)

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