Liquidity Startups

Fortnite Maker Epic Games Acquires Video-Streaming Social Platform Houseparty

In an early morning post to the company’s blog, the team behind synchronous social video communication platform Houseparty announced it has been acquired by Epic Games, the company behind wildly popular video game Fortnite. At this time, neither company has disclosed the amount of money involved in the acquisition transaction.

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According to data from Crunchbase, Houseparty has raised $70.2 million in known venture backing. Its last round, a $52 million Series C, was announced in December 2016. Sequoia Capital led that deal.

Houseparty

“Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication,” said Sima Sistani, Co-founder and CEO of Houseparty in the blog post. “We have a common vision to make human interaction easier and more enjoyable, and always with respect for user privacy.”

For those who aren’t in the teen and young adult demographic, at which Houseparty is aimed, here are the basics. It’s a live–streaming video platform that lets users chat with up to eight friends at once, in real-time. The company offers apps for iOS, Android, macOS, and Google’s Chrome browser.

Houseparty was built by the same team that introduced social video service Meerkat, which, if you’ll remember, used the Twitter API to onboard new users and propagate links to video streams through Twitter. In a textbook example of what venture capitalists call “platform risk,” Twitter shut off access to its social graph, effectively choking off Meerkat’s path to further growth. The company shut down Meerkat in October 2016, and launched Houseparty.

Earlier this year, in the wake of public weariness over targeted advertising, Houseparty initiated a pivot toward becoming an ad-free social network which generated its revenue from lightweight mobile games. In January, the company launched a partnership with popular mobile game Heads Up, which was available through an in-app purchase within Houseparty.

Quoting co-founder Sistani from an article in The Verge at the time, “We’re really starting to think about ways we can make money by bringing value to our users, not extracting value from them.” In March of this year, the company promoted Sistani to CEO, after its other co-founder, Ben Rubin stepped away from the role and into an advisory position.

Houseparty says that, at this time, no changes will be made to its applications or core social networking features. Current users of the platform will be able to keep their same friend connections, and maintain their “streaks” of usage.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias