Lyft has something new that isn’t exactly shiny or directly car-related. Uber’s largest competitor in the U.S. has hired 12 live-streaming video experts to focus on both the driver and passenger apps.
The new hires come from Kamcord, a live video app that launched in 2012 as a Twitch for mobile games. The Y Combinator startup had gained attention from gamers worldwide and secured big investments from Tencent Holdings, Google Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz. But it struggled to compete among the tech giants also offering live video, namely Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
Kamcord tried a pivot by allowing any smartphone owner to live broadcast any app (not just games) from their phone. But they still did not see much growth. Another idea for pivoting and prodding from one of the investors led Kamcord cofounder Aditya Rathnam to meet with Lyft cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer.
“We fell in love with the people at Lyft and what they envisioned,” Rathnam said. “These are some spaces that are going to see a lot of changes in the next 10 years. Transportation is one of them. I would say cryptocurrency is another.”
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. All employees at Kamcord are moving over to Lyft’s San Francisco headquarters. Kamcord will shut down, and broadcasters were encouraged to move to other platforms such as Amazon’s Twitch.
What translatable skills do a team of live-streaming experts have for a ride-hailing company like Lyft? Quite a lot, Rathnam suggested.
Building and managing for video creators is in many ways similar to working with Lyft’s drivers. Both groups wants to make money on their own schedules.
“We’re eager to continue our streak of building cutting-edge technology, creating delightful experiences, and helping people earn extra income,” Kamcord’s team wrote in a blog post.
As it competes against Uber, Lyft is vying to make the ride-hailing experience better for drivers and passengers for the long-haul (including the eventual transition to self-driving vehicles).
Rathnam is working on the driver product. His cofounder Kevin Wang was brought on as an engineer manager for the passenger app.