Short-form video startup Quibi is said to be exploring strategic options including a sale less than six months after its launch.
The mobile-first service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman is working with advisors to weigh several options, including raising more money and going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
A Quibi spokeswoman declined to comment. “Quibi has successfully launched a new business and pioneered a new form of storytelling and state-of-the-art platform,” she said in a statement, adding that “Meg and Jeffrey are committed to continuing to build the business in the way that gives the greatest experience for customers, greatest value for shareholders and greatest opportunity for employees.”
Quibi launched April 1 with nearly $2 billion in backing from Alibaba, Madrone Capital and every major Hollywood studio. It debuted with a large slate of short-form programming, all under 10 minutes per episode, fronted by such bold names as Chrissy Teigen, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Anna Kendrick and Laurence Fishburne.
The shows landed Quibi 10 short-form Emmy nominations and two wins, which were handed down to Antoine Fuqua-produced #FreeRayshawn last week.
But in spite of the money Katzenberg and Whitman poured into the service, it has struggled to gain traction with subscribers. The company said in June that Quibi had been downloaded 4.5 million times and had 1.6 million subscribers.
Quibi launched at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic when its main intended use, as a way to watch short-form entertainment programming on the go, no longer had as much relevancy with consumers. Some users complained that Quibi wasn’t available to watch on connected TVs, though the company later made it possible for people to cast from their mobile phones to their big screens.