quibi in trouble

When a mysterious new startup founded by Hollywood mainstay Jeffrey Katzenberg earned the support of every major movie studio and secured over a billion dollars in funding before it even had a name, it turned a lot of heads. But when that name was revealed to be “Quibi,” the company became the butt of jokes – and despite convincing several top-tier filmmakers and actors to make content for it, the service was never able to shake the target off its back.

After an underwhelming launch in April (which feels like it happened approximately nine zillion years ago), Katzenberg and his team are trying to do some damage control in response to rumors that Quibi could end up instituting layoffs at the company.

Is Quibi in trouble? It’s a fair question to ask in the wake of the mobile-only streaming company’s less-than-splashy debut, especially when recent reports indicated that they could lose half a billion dollars in 2020 alone. But despite reports that Quibi might need to cut back on spending by laying off 10% of its staff, Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman say that’s not the case at all. In a memo to their staff acquired by Variety, they said, “We are not laying off staff as a part of cost-saving measures…We’ve recently added a dozen new Quibi employees.”

They also tried to convince their employees that the company “is in a good financial position,” while at the same time saying that senior executives will take a 10% reduction in pay “because it’s the right thing to do.” Sounds like everything is going swimmingly, eh?

The whole point of Quibi – people watching “quick bites” of content while they were on the go, standing in line or riding the subway to work – was undermined by the timing of the coronavirus pandemic. That was bad luck, and obviously out of their control. But with the never-ending stream of headlines over the past year or two announcing more and more A-listers being hired by Quibi to make shows and movies, a service with better content and a better strategy should theoretically have been able to turn the pandemic from a negative to a positive: after all, they have a captive audience that’s always desperate for new things to watch.

One of the problems is that Quibi’s mobile-only concept met with almost immediate backlash from users who wanted to stream Quibi content to other devices; the company has heard those complaints and shifted its model to allow that type of shifting to take place. But the bigger problem, the one from which everything else stems, is that most of Quibi’s shows and movies simply aren’t very good. That’s a tough thing to overcome – especially when you’re asking people to pay a monthly fee to access it. So while Quibi executives are desperate to make everyone think all is well in Quibiville, it looks like a big storm is heading their way.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: