Short-video app Quibi said it is shutting down just six months after its early April launch, having struggled to find customers. The company said Wednesday that it would wind down its operations and plans to sell its assets, the AP reports. “Quibi is not succeeding," its top executives bluntly declared in a letter posted online. The video platform—designed for people who were out and about to watch on their phones—was one of a slew of new streaming services started to challenge Netflix over the past few years, most of which were part of much bigger tech and entertainment companies, like Apple and Disney. Quibi, short for “quick bites,” raised $1.75 billion from investors including Hollywood players Disney, NBCUniversal, and Viacom, and its leadership were big names: entertainment industry heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
But the service struggled to reach viewers, despite a 90-day free trial, as short videos abound on the internet and the coronavirus pandemic kept many people at home. Part of the appeal of the service, which started at $5 a month, was supposed to be that you could watch short videos while out, without access to a TV. Being stuck at home made TV more desirable than watching on a phone, and Quibi only later and slowly rolled out TV options. Katzenberg blamed the pandemic for Quibi's woes. Katzenberg’s connections helped line up stars to make and star in its videos, including Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, and Jennifer Lopez. There were short versions of 60 Minutes and reality shows, and a reboot of Reno 911. The shows never achieved big name recognition, although the platform scored some Emmys earlier this year. (Also featured on Quibi: A Princess Bride "remake.")