At 23, Michael Seibel help found Twitch which is now the world’s biggest live video game streaming platform

BY Preta Peace Namasaba March 5, 2024 10:50 AM EDT
Michael Seibel. Photo credit: Y Combinator

The popularity of the video live-streaming platform Twitch has exceeded that of its founders by bounds. Currently boasting over 140 million monthly active users and an average concurrent viewership of nearly three million, it is one of the most visited websites in the world. Twitch remains the most popular video game live-streaming service for both streamers and viewers, hosting broadcasts in up to 35 different languages. What many do not know is that this leading social media site was developed by African American genius and serial entrepreneur Michael Seibel at age 23.

A native of Brooklyn, Seibel describes himself as ‘a guy who’s always been comfortable around computers’. His father being a programmer, Seibel was excited about that world but it seemed distant. He graduated from Yale in 2005 with a degree in political science and went to work as the finance director for Kweisi Mfume’s 2006 senate run. After the unsuccessful campaign, Seibel went along with his college classmates who were driving across country to build, one of the pioneering video streaming sites. He planned to fly home after the vacation and find work on a presidential campaign.
Seibel set foot in Silicon Valley and has never looked back.

Although Seibel wanted to go into politics, he found the opportunity to start a business with his best friend irresistible. He initially held no particular passion or interest in the tech world, or the video world but took the leap nonetheless. In 2007, Seibel co-founded with his friend Justin Kan and two others. The website allowed anyone to broadcast video online through channels with Kan broadcasting his life 24/7 via the original channel.

“Justin gave me the opportunity to work and be a cofounder of, and even though I thought it was crazy, I also thought to myself ‘when would I have another opportunity to start a business with my best friend?’” Seibel said about how his decision to become an entrepreneur was spontaneous.

Between 2007 and 2011, Seibel served as CEO of The network signed over 30, 000 broadcasting accounts within one year. separated its gaming section which was bringing in more viewers than all other categories combined to form a new site called in 2011. From being a video category on allowing users to stream themselves playing video games, the game broadcasting service soon overshadowed its parent company. Twitch raised $35 million across several funding rounds.

By 2013, the website had 45 million unique viewers and was considered the fourth-largest source of peak Internet traffic in the United States. Twitch had grown so large that’s parent company entirely rebranded as Twitch Interactive in 2014. It represented the company’s shift in focus and the end of which was shut down in the same year. Despite speculations of a billion-dollar acquisition by  Google or YouTube, Twitch was bought by Amazon for $970 million.

Twitch wasn’t the end of Seibel’s innovation and entrepreneurial drive. In 2011, he co-founded Socialcam, a social video-sharing app that spun out of The app made it easy for users to shoot a video and upload it to the app’s niche-focused community with the alternative of sharing it to other social sites. As CEO, Seibel was motivated by critics who said he wasn’t going to make video work and the desire to get more people to use video to share their life and experiences. At only 18 months old and with just four employees, Socialcam was sold to Autodesk for $60 million in 2012.

Having founded two startups backed by Y Combinator, Seibel became the accelerator’s first full-time Black partner in 2014. He became CEO of the Y Combinator Core unit in 2016 and currently serves as Group Partner and Managing Director of YC Early Stage (the startup accelerator). He serves on the board of two Y Combinator companies, Reddit and Dropbox.

Seibel is also promoting diversity efforts among startup founders and providing more opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds.

“Minorities often feel like they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the valley and tech start-ups in general. What I love about Y Combinator is that it is a level playing field. If you get in, you immediately become a Silicon Valley insider,” said Seibel.