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Streaming startup Caffeine gets $100 million investment from 21st Century Fox

Although 21st Century Fox plans to shed itself of its film and television studios in a proposed acquisition by Disney, the company isn’t leaving the entertainment industry completely. Its latest move is set to rival streaming behemoth Twitch, as Fox has sunk a whopping $100 million into a collaborative social broadcasting platform called Caffeine.

Despite forming in 2016 thanks to the efforts of two ex-Apple executives, Caffeine began materialising earlier this year. Apple TV’s former design lead Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts hope to innovate the livestreaming scene by “re-imagining every aspect of broadcasting,” initially securing $46 million thanks to investments from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners.

Now that the project is taking off, Jen Folse has traded her role as an Apple TV executive for Caffeine’s vice president of product, while Evernote’s ex-head of human resources, Michelle Wagner, has become the platform’s vice president of people and places. Folse expressed her enthusiasm for the new role, with her excitement stemming from Caffeine’s “new and exciting way for people to discover and consume live content.”

21st Century Fox’s chairman Lachlan Murdoch is the latest member to join Caffeine’s board, after investing a sizeable $100 million into the startup. In particular, Murdoch notes that this will bolster what’s left of Fox Sports under its ‘New Fox’ banner, as Caffeine utilises the company’s expertise to “deliver compelling experiences in esports, video gaming and entertainment.”

“We want to bring the world together around friends and live broadcasts,” adds Caffeine CEO Ben Keighran. “It’s an ambitious goal, but one we believe is attainable with the support of our amazing new partners, our awesome and ever-growing community, and the content that together, we can bring onto the platform.”

Caffeine is currently operating in a “pre-release” model during its beta testing. Keighran expects to launch the platform publicly in 2019, supported by a fair, ad-free monetization system” geared around incentives to keep broadcasters and viewers engaged. It will face harsh competition, however, with Amazon building on Twitch, Google pushing YouTube Gaming and Microsoft having transformed Beam into Mixer.

In order to differentiate itself, Caffeine promises to do its best to rid toxicity by placing emphasis on real-time engagement that prioritises friends. Keighran claims that this will lead to “more meaningful social engagements,” but it remains to be seen how this won’t be inaccessible for newcomers.

KitGuru Says: It is looking like Caffeine won’t be just another streaming platform clone, but one that aims to shake things up a little more. Would you consider switching streaming platform as a broadcaster or viewer, providing Caffeine offers something meaningful to the scene? At least it'll be ad-free in comparison to a certain other service.

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