MCU Fireside Chat – Kevin Lin, former COO of Twitch

by Cherish Kyateesa Kyeyune

On Thursday, February 29th, 2024 at Sun Yat Sen Auditorium on the Taipei Campus, Ming Chuan University held a Fireside Chat to broaden opportunities for its students. Kevin Lin, former COO of Twitch, was the first guest, joined by Simon Yin, a filmmaker and producer. In attendance were faculty members and students from the Taoyuan and Taipei campuses for this inaugural event.

Kevin Lin was invited to MCU to share his insights on becoming a founder and the similar journeys that await aspiring attendees. His path to success in co-founding the popular platform was one of luck and making the right connections. At Yale, he was unsure of his direction in life. It was far from a straight path for him, beginning with biomedical engineering before switching to ecology. He studied in fields that are vastly different from his current area of affluence. He worked in a beverage company only to get his first start on JustinTV, to help create projections, despite his lack of technical skills.

Lin painting the picture of his career answered Mr. Yin’s question about living in fear. He coaxed students by stating that despite his lack of skills in the field entrusted to him by his college classmates, he still gave the position a chance.

Lin cautions aspiring students not to follow his path. He grew up in a toxic work culture where the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” was commonly used. In his generation, the pressure to work and work led to poor mental health and stress, driven by insecurities, fear of falling behind, and the fear of poor decision-making.

“A founder’s job is to find the right team to execute the idea,” said Kevin Lin, emphasizing the importance of asking for help honestly. “You get feedback if you’re honest.” He informed students that the business world isn’t as competitive as they may believe. “An idea is executed by the right people to help you build it, and remember to give back to those who have helped,” Lin further explained.

He founded Twitch to provide a platform for gamers to earn money from their hobby while forming a global community. Twitch’s impact on his career and life was a rush that he aspires to one day replicate.

At the event, Lin introduced his new company, Metatheory that is founded in Taiwan yet based in the United States. The company specializes in video games utilizing web3 in its gameplay. Showing a demo reel for his new game, Duskbreakers, created by an 8-person team over 7 to 8 months, he discussed the difficulties with developing a game and how time-consuming the process can be. Involving storylines, character arcs, weaponry, battles, and overall design with playtests, it was a new ballpark in contrast to platform development

The fireside chat also included a Q&A section where students asked the former COO questions about his career. Howard, an IBT student who later won best question, asked, “In what ways has your understanding of inspiration evolved over time and how does it impact your ongoing work?” Mr. Lin, taken aback by the question, responded that meeting new people has been the most important aspect of his ability to experience new things. Furthermore, he began to think of things he had never considered before.

Another student’s question about the biggest challenge of starting Twitch demonstrated that the path to establishing a start-up company is not linear. Mr. Lin’s struggle was that he frequently ran out of money. He shared how he and his colleagues overcame a dry spell during a recession through integration with the company Kabam.

Mr. Lin’s key takeaways for students in terms of career perspectives and mindset were to be curious, study hard, and follow your heart. However, you should also speak with those who have gone before you to gain new knowledge and perspectives on the world around us and their lives. Nevertheless, students should not simply listen to everything; they must form their own opinions while living fearlessly.