Two former Apple TV designers have raised a big bucket of venture-capital money to launch Caffeine: a startup looking to take on Amazon-owned Twitch with a new social-broadcasting service.
The duo, Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts, formed Caffeine in April 2016. They’ve announced a total of $46 million in two rounds of funding led by Silicon Valley VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners.
Caffeine has released its platform and tools for live-streaming games — and other content — in a beta version at caffeine.tv on the web and via its iOS app. The company claims it’s simpler to use than Twitch, allowing users to broadcast from PC game broadcast software, browser webcams, and the Caffeine app without any configuration.
“I left Apple to create a company that would fundamentally change the way we create, consume, share, and monetize live content,” Keighran, Caffeine’s CEO, said in announcing the funding.
Caffeine’s initial pre-release version is centered on video-game broadcasting. But according to Keighran, the platform is already seeing creators using it for other kinds of entertainment including live podcasts and talk shows. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup plans to launch a monetization system for broadcasters in early 2018.
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Before starting Caffeine, Keighran worked at Apple as product design lead for Apple TV. He joined Apple in 2012, when the tech giant acquired Chomp, a search startup he co-founded and led as CEO. Roberts previously worked at Apple as a senior user experience designer and was a senior designer for Apple TV, iPhoto, Aperture, and other products.
In addition, Keighran and Roberts have recruited Anna Sweet, a former exec at Valve and Facebook/Oculus, to head up business, content and strategy efforts.
Caffeine’s built-in tools allow broadcasters to share their streams on Facebook and Twitter. The company says the platform gives priority to personal conversations among a creator’s friends, resulting in “more meaningful social engagements while disposing of toxic chatter.”
“Caffeine is masterfully designed to enable creators in all fields to connect with their audiences in the best way possible,” Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz co-founder and general partner, said in a statement. Horowitz sits on the startup’s board, along with Greylock partner John Lilly.