In brief: Launching during the pandemic was always going to be a tough ask of Quibi. The mobile-first streaming platform was designed for those in motion, not millions of people stuck in their homes for months on end with bigger and better platforms to consume media on (televisions). And with millions of people suddenly losing their jobs, lots of people weren’t on the hunt for a new streaming service, even if it did include a 90-day free trial.
But these aren’t the only concerns that have threatened to derail Quibi since its founding in 2018. Sources familiar with the matter recently told The Wall Street Journal that near the beginning of their working relationship, CEO Meg Whitman threatened to quit due to issues involving founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Rather than throw in the towel so easily, however, Whitman laid out her grievances to Katzenberg which reportedly included him treating her like an underling, interrupting employees during meetings and having a tendency to micromanage.
Katzenberg reportedly responded favorably and the two worked on the issues, including giving Whitman more independence at the company.
But now, Quibi is facing its biggest challenge to date – coping with lower-than-projected subscriber numbers. At its current pace, the Journal notes, Quibi is forecasted to sign up fewer than two million paying viewers by the end of its first year, far short of its original 7.4 million subscriber goal.
A Quibi executive told the Journal they were unsure how many paid subscribers they would have by the end of the year as they have only collected one full month of subscriber data thus far. Slowing downloads, the company said, were caused in part due to reduced marketing in light of protests surrounding the death of George Floyd.