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Quibi might be up for sale after limp launch

Short-form video streaming platform Quibi may be put up for sale after struggling to attract subscribers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quibi is exploring a possible sale among several options under review with advisers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The company is also thinking about raising more money after its initial $1.8 billion cash raise, or going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Quibi, an abbreviation for “quick bites,” was founded by Disney and DreamWorks alumni Jeffrey Katzenberg and led by CEO Meg Whitman, formerly of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The service was designed to work on mobile devices, for a monthly subscription fee of $5 for ad-supported access and $8 for ad-free viewing.

The service pushed through with its launch in April despite the coronavirus outbreak, with Whitman saying in an interview with Digital Trends that it was fast-tracking the launch of TV casting support as viewers were staying at home instead of watching content on the go.

“Quibi has successfully launched a new business and pioneered a new form of storytelling and state-of-the-art platform,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Digital Trends when asked for comments on the report.

“[Whitman] and [Katzenberg] 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. We do not comment on rumor or speculation.”

COVID-19 blamed for Quibi’s problems

Katzenberg blamed the coronavirus outbreak for Quibi’s struggles out of the gate, though he also admitted that some of the service’s content failed to connect with audiences.

Quibi had expected 7 million viewers in its first year, a target that has since been abandoned by the company. As of June, there were 4.5 million downloads of the service’s app, with only 1.6 million subscribers.

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