In 2013, I called Marcus and requested to do a biographical interview. Due to conflicting schedules, it never came together. A few months later, I left the scene after writing under Richard Lewis’ mentorship for half a decade.
Dejected and jaded at falling short of achieving what I had set out to in esports, my focus turned to completing university and moving forward. After graduating, the back-burner thought of nabbing a spot in the video game industry for myself had now become more of a front-facing question of if it was still possible.
All contacts in the scene remained distant except for Rich and Marcus. Rich had graduated into a wider spectrum of game coverage, going on to become one of the most polarizing figures in the industry, while gaining large traction during the Gamer Gate scandal. Marcus continued to do his own thing, and would move up in Twitch while acting as a face for various sectors along the way.
It was October 13th, 2017, two weeks to the day after I had moved to Seoul in search of the answer to my own question—could I make a comeback? I was sitting in a McDonald’s one evening, worried about my next move in life. I emailed Marcus on a whim; maybe it’d open some doors.
I'm in Seoul. Right now, I'm in a McDonald's so I can pick up WiFi. Life's really different here when you're not visiting, for sure.
I'm getting back to writing soon, just wanted to get settled in. Saturday will be two weeks.
Seeking out opportunities still. Anywhere, everywhere, everything.
I'd like to still do a text interview with you. The usual.
Let me know if/when.
All the best.
A few hours later, he said he was down.
The initial goal was to release this piece, in its entirety, on January 1st, 2018. Little did either of us know, this would evolve into a large multi-faceted project over the course of two and a half years.
It was mid-2018 when I decided to pivot this project into two parts: the first being Marcus Graham’s life and legacy (The Legacy), the other a definitive look at Justin Kan’s failed reality show which eventually became the world’s largest livestreaming service (The Revolution).
Two weeks before this project was set to be published, I made the decision to undo the merge, and make each half its own piece, given their respective depth.
The Revolution will be released in the future.
Aiming to be a project which was fact-based and contained minimal conjecture, I had to go straight to the source without exceptions. When it came to Justin.tv, there was no better person to speak to than Justin Kan himself. What was his connection to Marcus, and how did Marcus come onboard?
After a plateau in initial progress at Justin.tv, a pivot was needed to stay afloat. The founders of Justin.tv—Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Kyle Vogt, and Michael Seibel—would choose to explore and invest into the realm of video game streaming—only 3% of their current viewership—in hopes that it would become the next popular thing within the space.
It did, and in 2008, Kevin Lin would come on board as COO to assist.
The team needed someone seasoned from the esports scene that had vast amounts of experience in livestreaming and broadcasting, balanced with deep-seated knowledge of the scene’s operations. By now it was 2010, and everyone felt the StarCraft II tidal wave approaching.
Kevin, aware of Marcus’ work, reached out immediately. It was soon after that Marcus found himself at the helm of helping blueprint this idea called “Twitch”.
Marcus was the 19th employee hired in late 2011.
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If you reference this project in any way, please give proper credit to me (Jeff Kim). Thank you!