A Quick Bite Post Mortem For For Quibi: Hollywood Still Doesn't Get The Internet
from the it-ain't-about-the-content dept
So Quibi, the Hollywood dream of creating a new “professional” video streaming service by throwing $1.75 billion at Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman and hoping they could create something, lasted all of 199 days before announcing that it was throwing in the towel (even though it apparently still has a chunk of that cash on hand, which it will be handing back to some investors). As we noted when it launched, Quibi is the perfect example of Hollywood thinking about the internet. It overvalued the content (and believed that you got the best content by throwing money at big names), and completely undervalued the internet and the fact that the killer application of the internet is community and communication.
For decades now, we’ve pointed out time and time again that Hollywood seems to view the internet through the lens of their existing industry — one built up with a few giant gatekeepers who “greenlight” what content gets made — and that the content they pick must be financed with ungodly sums of money. I’m reminded of the former NBC exec who quizzed me years ago about how to make sure his company could keep making $200 million movies. As I’ve noted repeatedly in the 15 years since I was challenged over that, the whole question is wrong. No one in the tech industry demands that others explain “how do we keep making $5,000 computers.” The industry looks at how best to serve customers — and often looks for creative ways to do it cheaper and more efficiently, rather than just setting a cost and tossing cash into it.
Quibi was the result of this kind of hubris: taking the Hollywood approach to an internet world. And it showed.
As James Surowiecki highlights in his own post-mortem, Quibi is basically the opposite of what a compelling internet service is because it relies on the idea of the brilliant visionary anointing the best content, rather than letting it bubble up via the wisdom of the crowds.
I find it notable that Quibi shut down the week that there was a flood of stories (and TV commercials) featuring Nathan Apodaca, the Idaho potato farmer who’s random TikTok video of himself on a skateboarding heading into work (after his truck broke down) while drinking cranberry juice from a giant bottle and singling along to Fleetwood Mac went super viral. It was also a “quick bite” video, but it was basically the anti-Quibi. That one random video going viral has even brought Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” back onto the charts 43 years after the song came out.
That’s the power of the internet. It allows anyone to create. It allows anyone to share. And out of all of that, it allows some amazing content to bubble up, because tons of people like it — and not because some super rich Hollywood dude decides “this is what the people want.”