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Quibi Struggles To Find Its Place

Image via Utsman Media on Unsplash

Quibi, which is short for "quick bites," is the brainchild of Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg, who served as chairman of Walt Disney Studios and was a co-founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, founded the startup in August 2018.

Quibi is short-form video platform designed for smartphones where users who are on the go can watch content in chapters of 10 minutes or less.

Since its founding, Quibi has been a hot topic in Hollywood and the startup community. The company raised $1.75 billion from most of the major Hollywood studios before it even launched last month.

Despite big-backers and endless media coverage, Quibi fell out of Apple’s Top 50 chart in less than two weeks after its debut on April 6. Following the initial pop in downloads, users began to get frustrated that the content could only be viewed on a phone.

Following the weak debut and criticism of its mobile-only viewing capability, Quibi quickly took a U-turn as it said users would be able to stream content on their TVs.

With Quibi now now ranked 125th in Apple's app store rankings, Katzenberg was recently interviewed and provided his thoughts on Quibi's struggles.

"I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus," Katzenberg said. "Everything. But we own it."

Quibi says the app has received about 3.5 million downloads, with 1.3 million active users. Katzenberg was clearly not enthusiastic about those statistics.

"Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch?" Katzenberg asked. "The answer is no. It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted."

"If we knew on March 1, which is when we had to make the call, what we know today, you would say that is not a good idea," Katzenberg said when asked if Quibi should've launched at a later date. "The answer is, it’s regrettable. But we are making enough gold out of hay here that I don’t regret it."

With Quibi's debut not living up to the hype, Katzenberg said the company will scale back its previous spending plans.

"Until we are in an environment where we can get a return on our investment, we are going to keep our powder dry," he said.

Katzenberg's anger was seemingly on display when asked about the popular app TikTok, in which users generate their own short-form content.

"That’s like comparing apples to submarines," Katzenberg said. "I’m happy for them, but what the hell does it have to do with me?"

At a time when people are cutting the cord at a record rate and other content providers such as Netflix are seeing a spike in usage, Quibi appears to be struggling to find its place.

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