Other notable names in the round include existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners, among a handful of other “undisclosed partners,” according to a statement issued by the startup. Caffeine isn’t providing a specific figure for the full round of funding, but it did say that 21st Century Fox itself invested $100 million. And the startup isn’t revealing how much Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock et al. are throwing into the pot, but we do know that both VC firms previously invested $46 million across two rounds of funding.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2016, Caffeine is pitched as a streaming platform where anyone can broadcast esports, video gaming, entertainment, and other kinds of creative content. Though you can apparently watch movies and TV shows virtually with friends through the platform, and broadcast yourself playing guitar if you like, it appears the primary purpose of the Caffeine platform for now is to stream games, similar to Twitch.
That said, alongside today’s investment news Caffeine revealed that its cash injection will be used to fund a new joint venture called Caffeine Studios, which will be co-owned by itself and Fox Sports. The studio will lean heavily on Fox Sports’ clout in live events and programming to develop exclusive live entertainment content, including esports, video gaming, and sports.
The new Fox
Caffeine Studios will constitute part of the “new Fox” expected to emerge as a result of Disney’s proposed acquisition of key Fox assets, a deal that could conclude early next year if it garners global regulatory approval. Existing 21st Century Fox executive chair Lachlan Murdoch — the eldest son of media mogul Rupert — will serve as chair and CEO of the new Fox entity, and as a result of its investment in Caffeine, Murdoch will also join Caffeine’s board of directors.
“The combination of the Caffeine platform with a content studio that benefits from Fox Sports’ expertise in live events and programming will help position Caffeine to deliver compelling experiences in esports, video gaming, and entertainment,” Murdoch said in a statement.
Additionally, Caffeine today revealed that it has inked a content deal with entertainment and ticketing giant Live Nation that will bring live music concerts to the Caffeine platform later this year.
In many ways, Caffeine is following Amazon-owned rival Twitch’s model. Though Twitch is better known for its esports and video gaming streaming, it has officially opened the doors to other types of video broadcasts, and it too has hosted live music concerts. Both Twitch and YouTube are also investing in ways to help creators earn money through their respective platforms, and Caffeine is no different — back in May it launched a new way for broadcasters to generate revenue from the content they create.
Caffeine was cofounded by former Apple senior user experience designer Sam Roberts and Ben Keighran, a former Apple TV product design lead who sold his startup to Apple in 2012.
“We want to bring the world together around friends and live broadcasts,” said Keighran, who serves as Caffeine’s CEO. “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.”
Though Caffeine is currently open for business, the platform is still technically a pre-release beta product, and no specific date has been given for its official launch.