AT&T's move signals that to start a new branded content enterprise, you'll need to be part of an enormous, epic bundle that is either integrated into a distribution powerhouse (think AT&T and Comcast) or so ginormous that the distribution powerhouses have to take it seriously and allow it to reach consumers undisturbed.
Related StoriesHollywood Bets On a Future of Quick Clips and Tiny Screens
decade in review
The 2010s Killed the Cult of the Tech Founder. Great!
TVA Deep Dive Into Quibi’s Shallow Pool Short for “quick bites,” Quibi is helmed by its founder, former Disney executive and DreamWorks cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg, and its CEO, former eBay and Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman. Both of these people have already established their legacies: 70-year-old Hollywood big-shot Katzenberg has had a long, successful career ushering classic films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Shrek into existence. The 63-year-old Whitman, meanwhile, is one of the wealthiest women in California after a career spent hopping Silicon Valley C-suites. Instead of resting on their gilded laurels, this high-net-worth duo secured the astronomical sum of $1.75 billion in funding to make their dream of convincing people to pay for short-form video content into a reality. Quibi spared no expense to create the slickest, most luxurious-looking video player for mobile, and then acquired projects with big, pricy names attached for its original catalog , including Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, and Reese Witherspoon. Several of its offerings, like an adaptation of Most Dangerous Game starring Liam Hemsworth, are essentially chapterized films. A few are actually decent—the Anna Kendrick sex-doll comedy Dummy sucked me in, despite exuding strong “rejected TNT pilot” energy. (Others are plain upsetting, like the Keeping Up With the Kardashians spoof Kirby Jenner, a one-joke turd that rudely pretends Rob Kardashian doesn’t exist.) Nothing broke through as a must-see in the way that The Mandalorian drew people to Disney+. Despite a fat pile of cash and all the Hollywood connections in the world, Quibi has sputtered since its launch, plummeting down the list of most-downloaded apps and reportedly struggling to retain subscribers who signed up for its free trial.
To be fair, the timing wasn’t great. Quibi debuted in April, as the Covid-19 pandemic flared in New York and much of the country held its breath at home—a tough break for a product intended for commutes and other in-between moments. Then again, people had more time than ever to watch stuff on their phones. And other factors in its struggle were clearly avoidable, like the decision to make its shows impossible to screenshot, which discouraged social media chatter. With the streaming market brimming with competitors offering programming in more familiar formats, it’s not particularly shocking that Quibi’s premise (“what if TV … but, uh, less?”) whiffed it hard.While it has failed to secure a huge subscriber base or drum up much hype for its actual content thus far, Quibi has already been the subject of several juicy behind-the-scenes reports, detailing a cocky, out-of-touch workplace run by two Boomers too rich and self-assured to be told no. People aren’t avidly watching Quibi’s shows, but they’re busting out the popcorn to follow its real-world drama. In one telling detail from a Vulture rundown, Whitman admits she’s not an “entertainment enthusiast,” despite helming a fledgling entertainment company, and then name-checks the History Channel’s Ulysses S. Grant bio-show Grant as the one title she really likes. It’s enough to make a saint snicker.
In Cosmic Consciousness, Aliume has created something that’s difficult to describe, other than to say that it reminds pretty much everyone who sees it of something they’ve already seen , whether it’s the lights you see when your eyes are closed or the cosmic web/matrix that sometimes appears when you’re in the midst of a psychedelic trip.
From the time they started their company in the late 1990s, they gleefully drew the boxes that subsequent founder-savants would later check off: pursuing ideas that conventional wisdom deemed crazy; dismissing traditional business practices; and maintaining control of their company even after going public, bypassing oversight by granting themselves powerful voting shares.