Quibi, five months after launch, may already be for sale
The company has utterly failed to penetrate the cultural consciousness in any way
Quibi, the short-form video service launched back in April by industry moguls Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, has been considered something of a laughingstock almost from the moment of its launch.
The company, which raised nearly $2 billion prior to its launch, has utterly failed to penetrate the cultural consciousness in any way, despite launching dozens of shows, and having huge stars like Kevin Hart and Chrissy Teigen involved.
Its gimmick of providing pieces of content lasting less than ten minutes proved spectacularly ill-suited to a pandemic, and multiple longform magazine articles have already appeared to provide blow-by-blows of everything that went wrong at the company.
Quibi also made it impossible, at launch, to watch the content on TVs, nor did it allow screen shots of its shows, which prevented things from going viral. The one viral clip from a Quibi show to date, of Rachel Brosnahan as a woman with a golden arm, was produced by filming one phone with a different phone:
Reports said that after the company’s uncommonly long three-month trial expired, a tiny percentage continued to subscribe.
Now, just months after launching, there are reports that Quibi may soon be for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Quibi is exploring “strategic options,” including a possible sale. The company could also raise more money, or possibly go public through a merger with an existing company. Meanwhile, Recode reported this week that Whitman and Katzenberg “have already pitched at least one potential acquirer in the last week.”
It’s unclear how a sale would work or how much it would fetch. Would the new owner simply run Quibi the way it’s worked so far, or leverage its relationships with talent, or merely eye the patents for the company’s proprietary technology, such as the “Turnstyle” format?
Quibi, however, doesn’t own most of its shows — it licenses many of them — so the shows can’t be sold.
At any rate, Quibi at this point seems more likely to become a footnote to history, or possibly the subject of a great book one day.