The crew over at Beam.pro has been busy! Some of you may remember an interview I did with Matt Salsamendi, the CTO and Co-Founder of Beam. We spoke at length about Beam’s features and infrastructure, as well as future plans. I was impressed with the service at the time, Beam offered awesome perks such as transcoding for all and almost zero delay. Now, a year later, Beam shows no signs of slowing down.
I’m always seeing tweets popping up in my Twitter feed from Beam, announcing new features or talking about optimizations made to their infrastructure. I spoke with Matt Salsamendi again recently, he was excited about the launch of some upcoming features. I figured it was time Matt and I caught up.
Lift Gaming: Hey there Matt, we wanted to follow up on Beam and the progress you have made since we last interviewed you about Beam back in April of 2015. You had spoke with us about Beam’s infrastructure and how it was built for rapid expansion. I’ve noticed Beam has had quite a bit of a growth spurt both as a community and as a service. What are some of the big changes that have occurred over the past year for Beam?
Matt Salsamendi: Thanks for having me again! It’s been a crazy few months, that’s for sure. We launched the full version of the Beam platform in early January and we couldn’t be more happy with growth! We immediately saw nearly 10x the amount of traffic we usually get, and it’s continued to rise 18%+ each week since then.
Initially scaling transcoding (quality options) was fun… our prior architecture was built as a sort of tech-demo, and we spent a lot of time shortly after launch revamping it. I still have a few screenshots lingering of every component of our transcode cluster at 100% utilization– we joked that the servers were on fire! That’s now down to 5-10% utilization and we’ve got more capacity on standby.
LG: Building and running a service like Beam must be a huge undertaking. What are some of the challenges you and your team have had to face in the past year and how have you overcome them?
MS: This one was actually surprising, even for me. We thought the biggest challenges would be around adoption or scaling, but it actually turned out to be more human than that. Since launch, we’ve been doing 12+ hour days shipping features, squashing bugs, and most importantly, hanging out with the community. Our bodies definitely weren’t designed for that and avoiding burnout is tough; we’re actually planning a few short retreats for the team in the coming weeks. We’re pretty excited for that!
LG: Burnout is something we totally understand here! Beam’s feature set has been rapidly expanding over the past few months. There seems to be a real focus on introducing new, unique features that streamline both the streamer and viewer experience. What are some of the unique features Beam currently offers?
MS: Our primary focus is on interactivity. We started by dropping stream delay down to 0.2 seconds, so streaming on Beam is the equivalent of being in a Skype call with your viewers. Now, we’re pairing that low delay with game integrations that let your viewers control parts of your game! In Binding of Isaac, your viewers can choose the items in rooms or the bosses you fight. In Minecraft, your viewers get to trigger events in your game world, like a zombie apocalypse or a UFO abduction! If you want to go further, you can actually let each individual viewer become an NPC you can chat and trade with in your game world!
LG: That sounds amazing, You mentioned to me that there’s several new features on the horizon you wanted to talk about. What are some of these new features and when can we expect to see them introduced?
MS: Our roadmap all about interactive integrations and fun features to bring communities together! We’re working on some exciting partnerships with large studios to bring interactivity to a wider variety of games! In-fact, we actually launched a brand new Minecraft integration on April 16th. It’s going to be pretty awesome!
Beam.Pro offers viewers the ability to interact in game, in real time, with their favorite streamer.
LG: Several of our Lift members are now partnered with Beam and they’ve really been enjoying the experience. What sort of characteristics, qualifications and numbers do you look at when evaluating people for partnership? How is partnering with Beam different than partnering with other services such as Twitch or YouTube?
We see partners as fundamental parts of our community and since everything at Beam is based around interactive communities, this is big! We work with our partners to define the roadmap and identify problem points that we might otherwise be blind to. They really are partners to the true sense of the word. We actually brought on Graphoniac
as our director of partnerships recently and she’s been working to define exactly what our requirements look like as we grow. There’s a forum post with a full list of requirements and perks
partners get when joining the program!
LG: Where do you see Beam heading in the next year? What milestones and goals do you have your sights set on?
MS: We’d love to be at the point where regardless of what game you’re playing, you can make your viewers feel like they’re a part of the action. Right now our focus is two-fold; firstly, getting as many integrations available as possible for a wide variety of different games, and secondly, making it dead simple to get those integrations running on your channel. If the process is too complex, people won’t spend the time it takes to get it going and that’s a killer. Aside from that, it’s all about growth and building the right features (ones people want!).
LG: Thanks for doing this follow up interview with us, it has been great watching Beam grow and thrive as a platform since the last we talked. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Beam and the community you have built around it.
MS: Thanks so much guys! It’s honestly a pleasure. We’re really excited about continued growth with the Lift community!
It’s always a pleasure dealing with Matt Salsamendi and we have a lot of respect for the work Beam is doing. It is a great platform for streamers who are looking to focus on community and interactivity. We’ll keep you posted on any future developments! Check back frequently for updates on all the latest Twitch, Beam and YouTube Gaming news.