@Jeffrey Katzenberg on American Masters
Three years after the demise of the streaming service Quibi, its founder Jeffrey Katzenberg says he is still proud of what he did.
In an interview with LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky, the former Disney/Paramount/DreamWorks executive said, “I’m humbled by the failure. But I’m proud that what we tried was a moonshot.” He added that “owning my failures is as important [as], or actually more [important] than owning my successes.”
Katzenberg, in collaboration with Meg Whitman, had raised some $1.75 billion to set up Quibi, but the service failed to attract the subscribers it needed to sustain itself. The entrepreneur, who had been fired as head of Walt Disney Studios and who once headed up Paramount Pictures, was also the co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. Whitman, now the US Ambassador to Kenya, was formerly the CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Quibi, which had about 200 employees, opened in April 2020 during the height of the pandemic. It closed six months later, having attracted only 710,000 subscribers, far shy of its hoped-for 7 million. Quibi (for “quick bites”) offered a streaming service that promised short content to subscribers for $4.99 per month with ads and $7.99 without. Several months after its closure, Roku bought the service’s assets for less than $100 million.
In his interview, Katzenberg also reflected on his earlier career at Paramount, in which he was bounced about from one project to another. “It frustrated me and in some instances really pissed me off, but I always felt I was growing,” he recalled. “As long as you feel like you’re learning and you’re growing, just go with it. And then they made me president of the movie studio.”
Katzenberg added, “Whatever job I got — and it didn’t matter whether it was to go get a cup of coffee —it was very simple: just do better than they thought I was gonna do. And I realized that for people that I worked for, the more I exceeded their expectations, the rewards came.”