Quibi shuts down as Hollywood tries to pinpoint what went wrong

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Jeffrey Katzenberg, pictured, and Meg Whitman launched Quibi with $1.75 billion in investments, but it soon ran into a host of issues. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Just six months after its initial launch, Quibi co-founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have announced they are shutting down. Even with $1.75 billion in startup money, the mobile streaming service failed to find a niche in its coveted 25-34 age demographic.

Quibi, short for “Quick Bites,” launched in April with a three-month free trial. After the trial ended, subscriptions cost $4.99 per month, or $7.99 per month for an ad-free version. Initially marketing itself to millennial customers living on-the-go lifestyles, the company pressed forward with their launch during the pandemic. The app soon ran into a litany of problems, including a 90% drop in subscribers after the free trial ended. 

In an interview on CNBC after the company announced it was closing, Whitman took ownership for the company’s failure. “The honorable thing to do is return money to shareholders when we knew this was not going to have a path forward as a viable, standalone business,” she said. 

Many in Hollywood are discussing why the service failed so quickly. Speaking to CNBC, Katzenberg himself gave two possible reasons: the concept or the pandemic. Others in the industry say Quibi’s content was not compelling enough for viewers. 

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