Amazon snaps up gaming website Twitch
Amazon has splashed out nearly a billion dollars to buy game streaming website Twitch just three years after it was founded.
The internet giant spent $970m (£585m) to snap up the San Francisco-based firm.
It stepped in after Google had previously been in talks to buy the website but no deal materialised.
Twitch has grown rapidly amid the increasing popularity of video gaming as an online spectator sport.
Its network had 55m unique users in July, up from 20m in 2012, with most visiting its website to watch other people play live or view recorded games.
The streams are interspersed with advertising. It is a lucrative market, with the value of digital video commercials expected to reach $5.96bn (£3.6bn) this year.
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said: "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month."
Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear said in a letter to users: "It's almost unbelievable that slightly more than three years ago, Twitch didn't exist. The moment we launched, we knew we had stumbled across something special.
"I'm pleased to announce we've been acquired by Amazon. We chose Amazon as they believe in our community, our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster.
"We're keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon's support we'll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch."
Twitch was originally a spin-off from Justin.tv, a quirky venture focusing on a video feed that tracked the daily activities of co-founder Justin Kan.
Since 2011, its focus on live video for game fans has turned it into a rapidly-growing phenomenon. Last month, users viewed more than 15 billion minutes of content produced by more than one million broadcasters.
These range from individual game players to video game publishers and developers.
It does not release revenue figures but last September it received a $20m (£12m) injection from investors, including venture capital firms.