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Creative Solutions, a division the Vitec Group, acquired Lightstream for $35.9 million yesterday in a move into the game livestreaming business. And hopefully, that will advance the cause of enabling more people to make a living from livestreaming gaming content.
That’s the dream of Stu Grubbs, the CEO who cofounded Lightstream in Chicago in 2014. Creative Solutions makes livestreaming hardware and software products, while Lightstream creates tools for game streamers such as Lighstream Studio, Lightstream Cloud, and Rainmaker.gg. The latter is a popular tool for scaling sponsorships for livestreamers.
Grubbs talked with GamesBeat in an interview after he held an all-hands meeting with his steam of 22 people. Grubbs will be speaking on a panel moderated by Andrea Rene of What’s Good Gaming at our GamesBeat Summit 2021 event on April 28 and April 29. They’ll talk about how a long tail for livestreaming is coming soon.
Over the past 13 years, Creative Solutions built a cloud-native live video platform with broadcast software and creator tools with specialization in game livestreaming.
It’s been a long road for Lightstream as well. The company went through the TechStars accelerator in the summer of 2015, when all four founders lived in a two-bedroom apartment together. They struggled to raise money for a game streaming startup. Now they’re part of a company with 1,600 employees. Their product lets anyone create a livestream in the cloud with motion graphics and other features to grow and engage their audience.
“We’re all about storytelling products, whether its photography or production of movies or TV. The creator economy with live video is the path for authentic stories,” Grubbs said. “We’re merging these storytelling products and hopefully these things will help everybody communicate better what they’re trying to put out there in the world.”
Lightstream has strong strategic partnerships and technology integrations with Microsoft’s Xbox and Amazon’s Twitch. Livestreaming has grown exponentially during the pandemic, and it is especially strong in gaming. This acquisition enables Creative Solutions to bring its broadcast-quality hardware, mobile apps, and cloud technology to the market with a global scale, and opens up new creative possibilities for storytellers.
“We have made a new video rendering engine that works in the cloud, and works for pennies per hour as opposed to dollars per hour if you were going to host OBS on a virtual machine,” Grubbs said. “We are pretty unique in the space. And I think the one detriment is that we are not as big as a business as we could have been. But we have a lot of things of value that we built into the products. I think that’s why we were a good acquisition.”
Creative Solutions has mobilized content creators with hardware and software products in markets such as broadcast, live production, and film. Integrating Lightstream’s creative suite and patented cloud production architecture with IP video technology from Teradek (a division of Creative Solutions) and the full suite of Creative Solutions production tools raises the potential for live video content creation in every segment.
Lightstream Studio is designed to remove technical hurdles and put advanced production capabilities into the hands of beginners. Using any browser, creators can bring on remote guests, mix live video feeds, brand streams with overlays, and engage audiences with dynamic motion graphics. Lightstream’s cloud architecture and integration with Twitch enable personalized streams for Xbox and PlayStation users without a PC or the additional hardware that is usually required. Lightstream has 17,000 subscribers to the studio.
“We’ve turned it into a direct-to-consumer, subscribe-if-you-need-to-create content system, and it’s really played out well for us,” Grubbs said.
Lightstream Cloud is a cloud platform for live video production. It enables developers to build creative software and livestreaming platforms on top of Lightstream’s cloud architecture. Production can be completely automated, programmatically triggering layout changes, combining remote feeds, compositing dynamic content, or creating variations of the same broadcast for different markets in under 500 milliseconds.
Rainmaker.gg provides the tools creators can use to understand, engage, and activate their audience. Brands can use this data and campaign tools to work with them. Creators get insight into their channel’s performance and a stream management suite, which includes overlays, tipping, chat tools, and alerts. Brands and game publishers discover and create custom reports about creator and game performance across streaming platforms.
Lightstream’s founders and team will be joining Creative Solutions and there will be no immediate changes to the pricing or structure of any of their current offerings, Grubbs said.
Grubbs said his company considered going it alone. But it often faced resource constraints as it pursued all of its different opportunities.
“We found the right big partner, and we have big ideas, and we’re still have energy,” Grubbs said.
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