The June 25 announcement that Microsoft’s game streaming platform Mixer would be shuttered came as a surprise to most, though company insiders have revealed that Mixer has struggled for some time both with internal culture and service issues. A new report by Business Insider features interviews with former Mixer employees, including the company’s co-founder Matt Salsamendi, to find out what happened.
Mixer began its life in 2016 as a small start-up called Beam, created by Matt Salsamendi and James Boehm, which was soon. As a competitor to the already-established Twitch, the new service focused on low-latency streaming, allowing better interaction between streamer and audience. While the concepts behind Mixer had promise, it always struggled to compete with Twitch’s overwhelming market share.
One of the biggest problems pegged by insiders that led to Mixer’s demand was one the platform is publicly infamous for–spending alleged tens of millions of dollars to attract Twitch’s top talent. One former employee said that in 2017 the company hosted a lecture called “Why not just hire PewDiePie?” which argued the value of boosting smaller streamers on Mixer rather than trying to poach big names from other platforms.
This advice seemed to fall by the wayside by 2019, when Mixer reportedly paid somewhere between $20-30 million to bring Ninja to its platform, and later made a similar deal with Shroud. However, these acquisitions never had the intended effect.
“The addition of Shroud [and] Ninja…was supposed to ultimately bring over their communities and help grow the platform from the top down,” former Mixer employee Milan Lee told Business Insider. “[But] their communities never really stayed.”
Even for these big name streamers, Mixer never attracted the same audience they saw on Twitch. Ninja currently has just over 3,200,000 followers on Mixer, while his still-inactive Twitch profile has nearly 15 million.
The company was also plagued by internal problems–a focus on adding new features meant that stability was compromised, resulting in a number of service outages. Both of the company’s founders left in late 2019, leading to a drop in employee morale. A video leaked early this year of an internal Mixer meeting showed the company’s new head seeming to berate employees for their low morale.
There have also been accusations that the work environment at Mixer was toxic, as well as allegations against Mixer streamers that were shared in the days leading up to announcements of the platform’s demise.
I’m Wes Wilson
I was a Microsoft Full Time Employee who got pushed out of Mixer by the same toxic manager that said those things to Milan Lee.
I tried playing by the rules, filing my complaints with my superiors and Microsoft HR. It did not work.
I am still looking for work
— WesWilson 👻 (@weswilson) June 23, 2020
Check out the full piece on Business Insider for more details into Mixer’s dying days. Microsoft is now partnering with Facebook Gaming, the social media giant’s live streaming service, though many Mixer streamers are choosing to move to Twitch instead.
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