Jeffrey Katzenberg's Shortform Video Venture Gets New Name, Lines Up Projects From Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua
The name Quibi is a combination of the words "quick" and "bite."
Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman's shortform video venture has an official name and has started to line up talent from a top-tier group.
Going forward, NewTV will now be known as Quibi.
The name, Whitman explained onstage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, is a combination of the words "quick" and "bite" — how she and Katzenberg have been describing the types of content that they want to produce.
The high-profile project, a next act for Katzenberg after he sold DreamWorks Animation to Comcast's NBCUniversal, raised $1 billion in investment earlier this year from all the major film studios and Alibaba. Already Katzenberg is putting that money to use. He also revealed onstage Wednesday morning that the company has struck deals with Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, Training Day director Antoine Fuqua and producer Jason Blum.
The del Toro project, per Katzenberg, is "a modern zombie story," while the Fuqua project is "a modern version of Dog Day Afternoon," with "two great acting roles." He likened the Blum project, called Wolves and Villagers, to Fatal Attraction.
"You have to give them the money to do it," Katzenberg noted, "which is why raising the billion is so important."
Quibi has also lined up an anthology series from Sam Raimi and Van Toffler called 50 States of Fear.
Katzenberg has been working on Quibi for the better part of the past two years, pitching investors and content creators on his vision for a video platform that focuses on premium episodic content told in bite-sized chunks. At first, Katzenberg said he was looking for as much as $2 billion to get the business off the ground. Earlier this year he tapped former HP chief Meg Whitman to help him run the business. By the end of the summer, they had announced $1 billion from 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony, Warner Media, Viacom, eOne, ITV, Lionsgate and MGM. Madrone Capital led the round and Alibaba, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Liberty Global also participated.
Whitman told the Vanity Fair summit crowd that she brought a "dose of practicality" to the venture. "We needed to be able to explain what we were doing so that an investor would underwrite it." She added that she's focused on the business, on building up subscriptions to the venture, while Katzenberg is focused on the content.
The company is expected to hire hundreds of employees to build out its vision. Some of the early hires include Janice Min, former co-president and chief creative officer of The Hollywood Reporter, to oversee news content. Katzenberg also said onstage that former Viacom executive Doug Herzog was involved in the company. A spokesman later clarified that he had consulted with the business but was not an employee. On the technology side, Quibi has tapped former Instagram product manager Blake Barnes to lead product for the company and former Hulu vp engineering Rob Post to lead engineering.
Oct. 10, 1:38 p.m. Updated to clarify that Doug Herzog is not a Quibi employee.
Oct. 15, 1:27 p.m. Updated to clarify Rob Post's former role at Hulu.