Live streaming platform Twitch has laid off several employees, but says that there are plans to grow the company in 2018, including a 30% increase in employees. Twitch was bought by parent company Amazon in 2014, and in January 2018 Twitch acquired three new high-profile executives from other tech companies: Pandora's Sara Clemens as COO, Rubicon Project's Mark Weiler as head of platforms, and Slack's Amir Shevat as vice president of developer experience.
January also saw Twitch announce exclusive streaming rights to The Overwatch League, the official eSports league for Blizzard Entertainment's mega-popular multiplayer FPS Overwatch - a deal that was reportedly worth at least $90 million. However, this week brought devastating news for some of the company's employees.
Polygon reports that several people at Twitch have been laid off, and while the number of employees let go is uncertain, it probably does not exceed 30. eSports analyst Rod Breslau put the number at "more than 25," and said that some of those laid off had been at Twitch since the company began in 2007. According to Breslau, "people were told that Twitch had 'overhired', and this was to re-adjust." Among those laid off were Twitch's director of content Ben, "FishStix" Goldhaber, and Justin Wong, vice president of community and social. Both Goldhaber and Wong took to Twitter to reassure fans.
So long, and thanks for all the memes. pic.twitter.com/WIVhGRVnyk
— Justin Wong (@JustinWong) March 30, 2018
I'm overwhelmed by everyone's messages of support ? I appreciate each and every one of you more than words can describe.
As for me, pls don't worry. I've got two months to figure out what's next, and turns out esports is doing pretty great in 2018. I'm gonna be fine.
— Ben Goldhaber (@FishStix) March 30, 2018
Host and producer Anna Prosser Robinson said on Twitter that Twitch Studios "was hit hard" by the layoffs, adding that, "I’ve been struggling to process the loss & figure out what’s next." She also spoke highly of her departing colleagues, saying that, "Some of the absolute best creatives and production experts in the industry are now available for hire." Twitch characterized the layoffs as "team adjustments" in a statement responding to the reports:
Coming off the record-setting numbers shared in our 2017 Retrospective, Twitch is continuing to grow and advance with success stories from Overwatch League to Fortnite's milestone-setting streams. In order to maintain this momentum, we have an aggressive growth strategy for 2018 with plans to increase our headcount by approximately 30%. While we've conducted team adjustments in some departments, our focus is on prioritizing areas most important for the community.
This is certainly a sad day for those employees who were let go, but it doesn't seem like Twitch as a whole is in trouble. Goldhaber stated that Twitch currently has 1200 employees, so a 30% headcount increase would mean approximately 400 new hires this year.