Twitch CEO Dan Clancy Sees Slow, Steady Growth Overtaking ‘Rocket’ Approach

Twitch CEO Dan Clancy has a clear vision for the future of the Amazon-owned platform: sustainable growth rather than flashy, rapid expansion.

Amazon acquired Twitch in August 2014 for approximately $1 billion, allowing the Jeff Bezos-founded tech giant to expand its presence in the gaming and live streaming sectors.

Twitch has since benefited from Amazon’s resources, infrastructure, and Prime membership integration, but it reportedly remains unprofitable and was forced to lay off more than 500 employees in January of this year, causing which represents approximately 35% of its workforce.

Clancy, however, who has held the top job at Twitch since March 2023, having previously worked at Nextdoor and Google, is undeterred by the pressures and has laid out what he believes will be the company’s path to success. .

“I think we always get obsessed with ‘accelerated growth,'” he said in a conversation with Fortune at the Cannes Lions festival, where Twitch aimed to attract advertisers alongside other tech titans at the industry equivalent of the Oscars.

“And those things that grow quickly can also shrink quickly.”

Clancy emphasized the stability of Twitch’s model and highlighted the platform’s focus on building lasting connections.

“In today’s world of social media, on some platforms, you may be discovered quickly and suddenly become a star. But tomorrow, someone else could be the star and you could be forgotten,” she said.

“When you build a community on Twitch, there’s a lot of longevity there.”

Rather than chasing rapid growth, Clancy’s strategy is about “sustained growth and sustained community building,” which he believes is the best approach for Twitch.

Twitch considers Prime and Netflix as main rivals, not YouTube or TikTok

Addressing Twitch competitors, Clancy dismissed the idea that all live streams are the same. “People don’t confuse a novel with a newspaper article just because they both use text as a means of communication. “They’re just different.”

Pointing out the differences between Twitch and other platforms like YouTube and TikTok, he said: “There is live streaming on YouTube and TikTok. But because it’s embedded with short-form content, you’re programmed to move on to the next one. “So people will watch the live stream, but you won’t have the same community experience.”

Clancy believes Twitch’s community-focused approach sets it apart. “The Twitch streamers, some of them had moved to YouTube because they had deals and a lot of them have already returned or are returning, and every one of them tells you ‘Oh, it’s not the same.'”

Interestingly, Clancy sees platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix as bigger competitors.

“People sit and watch Twitch for an hour or two. I think in some ways we are a social, long-form, UGC (user-generated content) platform. “So we are right between the television streaming services and the social media companies.”

AI fatalists ‘tremendously underestimate human intelligence’

Clancy, who has a PhD in artificial intelligence and extensive experience in the field, having led NASA’s AI and Robotics team, also offered his thoughts on fatalism around AI.

“I know quite a bit about AGI. Are people nervous? Well, the people who work at Twitch are like the general population. “They are all over the spectrum.”

While he acknowledged the challenges that come with new technology, he rejected the apocalyptic predictions of people like Geoffrey Hinton, widely considered the “godfather of AI.”

“I think the whole end-of-the-world thing tremendously underestimates human intelligence,” Clancy said.

“I just think they mistakenly think that because AI has advanced at this rate, it continues to do so.”

Clancy argued that human intelligence is much more complex than what AI currently imitates. “The reason we have such a big brain is not to do math, but to understand people, to reason about connections, to reason about relationships. “AI doesn’t do any of that.”

For Clancy, the distinctive and unique aspects of human intelligence, particularly in leadership and relationship building, are irreplaceable. “It’s not the smartest people who run companies. It is the people who can lead, who can motivate and who can build all those things.”

While AI will no doubt continue to evolve, Clancy believes the human touch will always be essential. “To think that computers can play chess better than us. They can present facts better than we can. Alright. We can do all kinds of things. In fact, the most important thing is that we think about reason, about relating to other people. And that’s what drives these companies.”

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