Quibi founders Jeff Katzenberg and Meg Whitman knew that had cracked the nut of the next big thing in Hollywood, knew it in spite of the fact that everyone else on the planet didn’t seem to want it, knew they were going to revolutionize things because they knew the Gen Zers and other young people better than they knew themselves. Indeed, no one may have known it yet, but everyone was craving lavishly funded short-form videos to watch on their phones, so much so that they could launch it amidst a pandemic during which no one had to actually leave the room in which their televisions or laptops reside. Alas, the quickest bite of all was Quibi itself, an idea so good that no one would pay to watch it, and so lucrative that none of the 700 million SPACs out there were willing to so much as give it a sniff.
Quibi, the short-form entertainment service for mobile devices, announced on Wednesday that it will shut down, just over six months after its service launched…. The company said in its announcement that it’s making a proactive decision to preserve shareholder equity, and will return the remaining funds to investors. Quibi alerted its investors and employees of the news Wednesday afternoon.
“While we have enough capital to continue operating for a significant period of time, we made the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our talented colleagues with grace,” Whitman said in a press release. “We continue to believe that there is an attractive market for premium, short-form content. Over the coming months we will be working hard to find buyers for these valuable assets who can leverage them to their full potential.”
Even by her own not-especially-impressive standards, Whitman’s tenure at Quibi was a disaster. The company was a going concern for less time than her campaign for governor of California, and arguably ended even more ignominiously. (Whitman lost that 2010 race to a 72-year-old guy seeking his old job back after 28 years of failed presidential runs by 13 points; Quibi blew through $1.4 billion in just two years and garnered roughly half as many subscribers as Whitman votes a decade ago.) Sorry, Margaret: Looks like you probably should have taken the Uber job.