- Quibi raised $750 million in a second round of financing that brings its total investment to $1.75 billion as the short-form video app prepares to start streaming next month, The Wall Street Journal reported. The financing includes a $400 million investment raised late last year by the startup, which was founded by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.
- Quibi, short for "quick bites," will use the additional funds to expand its programming and support technical development, CFO Ambereen Toubassy said in a statement cited by Variety. The company didn't provide the names of its investors, describing them as studios, tech companies and strategic partners. Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and Alibaba were among the initial investors in Quibi, CNBC reported.
- Quibi CEO Meg Whitman, who previously led Hewlett-Packard and eBay, last year said the company sought to raise $500 million to $600 million in the second round. It doesn't plan to raise more money this year, the Journal reported.
Quibi's latest fundraising round is an impressive sum for a startup that last year announced it had sold out its first-year ad inventory for $150 million. The company also needs to convince people to pay either $4.99 a month for a version with ads, or $7.99 a month for an ad-free tier. T-Mobile last year said it will offer Quibi bundled with cellular plans, though those details haven't been released yet.
To appeal to a broad audience, Quibi plans in its first year to stream 175 original shows whose 8,500 episodes are a maximum of 10 minutes long and are designed for viewing on mobile devices. Quibi will have more than 50 shows for its launch on April 6, and adjust the lineup based on viewer response, Whitman told the Journal. Quibi plans to differentiate its service from other streaming platforms by releasing new episodes each day, instead of once a week like linear TV or a season all at once, as Netflix does.
Quibi's programming will include drama, thrillers, comedy, reality TV, news and horoscope information, the Journal reported. Hollywood notables Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta, Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon are among creative talent developing shows for Quibi.
Quibi's advertisers during its first year include AB InBev, Google, Discovery, General Mills, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Progressive, Taco Bell, T-Mobile and Walmart. Quibi aims to provide a brand-safe alternative to YouTube, TikTok and other social networks whose dependence on user-generated content makes them vulnerable to abuse. Major brands have repeatedly halted advertising on YouTube amid revelations that their ads appeared next to objectionable content.
The startup is entering an increasingly crowded market for streaming content as Apple, Disney, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Comcast's NBCUniversal have already started streaming services or plan to introduce them in the next few months. Those platforms are more likely to be a threat to Netflix, whose viewership is mostly on connected TVs. By creating snackable content specifically for mobile platforms, Quibi is more aligned to compete with social media companies like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter that are expanding their original video programming.