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Quibi may be for sale. But what is it worth, and who would buy it?

By Ryan Faughnder and Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Quibi can't catch a break, even after becoming a two-time Emmy-winner.

Less than six months after Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launched their short-form video streaming startup, the company's drama "#FreeRayshawn" nabbed acting trophies for stars Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones.

The accolades from the television academy apparently didn't impress Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC late-night comic quipped during the Sunday night broadcast that the newcomer had "10 Emmy nominations this year, including outstanding short form comedy or drama and dumbest thing to ever cost a billion dollars."

Then, the next morning, the media, tech and entertainment industries were buzzing with reports that Quibi has engaged JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help the company review a range of strategic options, including a possible sale, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Quibi was considering a sale.

Representatives for Quibi and JPMorgan declined to comment on the strategic review. Quibi said in a statement the company had "successfully launched a new business and pioneered a new form of storytelling and state-of-the-art platform."

"Meg and Jeffrey 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," the statement read.

 

The Hollywood-based company is well funded. It raised $1.75 billion from investors, including all the major studios, Pegasus Tech Ventures, Alibaba Group and Goldman Sachs, to fund its push to make brief videos - or "quick bites" - for which people would pay at least $5 a month. The amount includes $750 million raised in March. Studios and other investors contacted by The Times declined to comment.

Executives have said the company is still in its infancy and that its launch was challenged by the pandemic.

But the move to potentially sell so soon after its April launch underscores the challenges Quibi has faced to achieve its goal of creating a game-changing subscription service for video series with 10-minute-or-less episodes, analysts said.

"The bottom line is, it feels like they're in a difficult spot right now," said Doug Clinton, New Jersey-based managing partner at investment firm Loup Ventures that invests in tech startups. "At some point the plan would've been to raise more capital based on their great numbers, and that obviously isn't happening. They're starting to think about Plan B."

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