Kickstarter builds up live streaming with Huzza acquisition

Steven Loeb · February 1, 2017 · Short URL:

Huzza, which is shutting down, will form Kickstarter's first international office in Vancouver

Editor's note: Our Splash Health, Wellness and Wearables event is coming up on March 23 in San Francisco. We'll have Mario Schlosser, Founder & CEO of Oscar Health, Brian Singerman (Partner, Founders Fund), Steve Jurvetson (Draper Fisher Jurvetson), J. Craig Venter (Human Longevity), Lynne Chou (Partner, Kleiner Perkins), Michael Dixon (Sequoia Capital), Patrick Chung (Xfund), Check out the full lineup and register for tickets before they jump! If you’re a healthcare startup and you’re interested in being part of our competition, learn more and register here.

Also, vote for your favorite healthcare startup before February 16Vote here!

It was around two years ago that Twitter bought Periscope, and, since then, live video has just exploded. It has now become an integral part of social networking, particularly on Twitter and Facebook. Periscope reached over 200 million broadcasts in a year, while the number of people going live on Facebook jumped by 4x in just eight months.

Now, even services you wouldn't think of as social networks, or as video channels, are getting in on the action too. That includes Kickstarter, which launched Kickstarter Live in November, to allow organizers and potential backers to interact with each other in real time.

The feature has been a big success in the last few months, with tens of thousands of viewers, so now the company is ready to build it up, announcing on Wednesday that it has acquired Huzza, the live video streaming service that helped build Kickstarter Live. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

This is an acqui-hire, as Huzza founders Justin Womersley and Nick Smit will be joining Kickstarter "to develop Kickstarter Live in exciting new directions." Huzzah, meanwhile, will be shutting down at the end of February, Womersley and Smit revealed in a blog post

The company will be refunding all subscriptions for the month of February and Huzza functionality will be available until the March 1, after which no data will be available, including embeds. 

"Choosing to shutdown Huzza was an incredibly difficult decision for us, especially as Kickstarter gave us the opportunity to keep the platform going. Our mission with Huzza has always been to help creators connect and more deeply engage with their communities, and we felt that we can have a bigger impact on creators by focusing our efforts on Kickstarter," they wrote.

Founded in 2015, Huzza was a live-video tool allowed that creators and personalities to connect and engage with their followers. 

Users could schedule their live-video events, making them  public or offering them exclusively to top followers. Live streams included the ability to chat, discuss and answer questions, showing the viewer's questions and the streamers answers.

"When we first experienced the product they built, it immediately struck a chord. It was intimate, it inspired personal connection, and it was clear how it would strengthen the best parts of Kickstarter while bringing our community to life in new ways," Bridget Best, Vice President of Operations at Kickstarter, wrote.

 Since the launch of Kickstarter Live, hundreds of creators have invited tens of thousands of people to watch their live streams, the company revealed. Currently, the average viewer spends more than 16 minutes per stream. Creators who have used Kickstarter Live have have seen a 74 percent success rate, which is  more than twice the site-wide average

"These behind-the-scenes invitations into the creative process have brought artists and audiences closer together, and helped creators generate greater support for their ideas at the earliest stages of development.," said Best. 

Huzza was based in Vancouver, Canada, and now that city will become the home to Kickstarter's first office outside of the United States. Kickstarter opened a new office in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood and is hiring a team of engineers and designers to help staff it. 

Since Kickstarter become available to Canadians in 2003, more than CAD $100 has been pledged to over 10,000 projects from creators in the country. 

"We couldn’t be prouder to put down roots in Canada," said Best. 

Kickstarter does not buy companies very often. In fact, this is only the second purchase it's ever made.

The only other time Kickstarter made an acquisition was in April of last year when it bought Drip, an online community for music fans, and that was more of a rescue mission, with Kickstarter seeing the value of Drip, and taking it upon itself to make sure the service was allowed to continue existing.

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