WHAT IS QUIBI?
Finally — we’ve got more details about Quibi.
Wait, what was Quibi again? You may remember that last summer media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay and HP CEO Meg Whitman announced they had raised $1 billion in funding to create high-quality content for a mobile audience. Quibi is the name of the duo’s short-form video venture.
Details around the company have been sparse, but we learned more at the Produced By conference on Saturday. Several things to know:
• The startup has already raised $1 billion from investors, and there are plans to raise “about half that” again either this fall or next spring.
• The company currently has projects in the works from A-listers like Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, and Sam Raimi.
• Each series is expected to be two to four hours in length, with each one divided into segments that will last no longer than 10 minutes each.
• The service will have two pricing tiers at launch on April 6, 2020. The first will cost $4.99 with one pre-roll ad before each video segment. The second option will be ad-free and cost $7.99.
As I’ve noted before, mobile streaming is hardly a new concept. People have been consuming short-form videos on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat for a pretty long time.
Additionally, let’s not forget when Verizon tried something similar in 2015. Verizon debuted its mobile video service Go90 in hopes of capturing a younger demographic that had ditched traditional TV in favor of watching videos on their phones. Verizon invested as much as $200 million early on to make Go90 work. But Go90 ultimately shut down after the service failed to gain traction with the public.
As a Fortune feature from January notes, if Quibi can’t sign up customers who are willing to pay for a subscription, its clever approaches to content creation won’t really matter.
“If they don’t get the subscribers, and the cards are stacked against them getting subscribers, your series won’t be a hit, and who’s going to want to buy it?” wonders Dan Rayburn, who tracks streaming media for the consultancy Frost & Sullivan. “You don’t see people clamoring to rebroadcast stuff from go90,” he says.
I’m personally not convinced of the model (and I fall right in their target demographic, which is users who are 25 to 35 years old). I use Facebook and Instagram regularly.
Do I watch short-video content on Facebook Watch, Instagram TV, or Snap Originals? Never.
And that content is free. So would I pay for a mobile-video subscription? Absolutely not.
With that said, the duo is well-connected and has surrounded themselves with some of the best in the business — luring away executives from Hulu, Netflix, Snapchat, and Viacom. Let’s see how this marriage between Hollywood and Silicon Valley works out.
SURPRISE DEPARTURES: Less than a month after Uber’s rocky public debut, chief operating officer Barney Harford and chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina have stepped down from their respective positions.
In an email to employees, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that Uber’s progress now gives him the time to be more directly involved in the company’s day-to-day operations. Khosrowshahi wrote in the email that he decided the heads of Uber’s core businesses (Rides and Eats) should report directly to him. Khosrowshahi added that Harford’s role “no longer makes sense.”
“There’s never really a right time to announce departures or changes like this, but with the IPO behind us, I felt this was a good moment to simplify our org and set us up for the future,” he wrote.
SHOPPING SPREE: Salesforce has agreed to buy analytics platform company Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) for $15.7 billion in an all-stock deal. (Note that this happened days after Google bought analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion.) The takeover of Tableau will be Salesforce’s largest deal to date. Salesforce said the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter, is likely to increase its 2020 revenue by up to $400 million.
“Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers. It’s truly the best of both worlds for our customers,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in a news release. Read more at Fortune.
• Innoviz Technologies, an Israel-based provider of LiDAR sensors and perception software, raised $170 million in Series C funding. Investors include China Merchants Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group, New Alliance Capital, Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services and Phoenix Insurance Company.
• Vectra, a San Jose, Calif.-based AI-driven threat detection platform, raised $100 million in funding. TCV led the round.
• Privitar, a London-based data privacy software company, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including Partech, Salesforce Ventures, 24Haymarket and IQ Capital.
• Synapse, an API-based banking platform, raised $33 million in Series B funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, and was joined by investors including Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital.
• Mixlab, a New York-based pet pharmacy, raised $8.5 million in seed funding. Global Founders Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Monogram Capital, Brand Foundry, Lakehouse Ventures, Mars Petcare, Joyance Partners, and TQ Ventures.
• Splash Financial, a Cleveland-based student loan refinancing startup, raised $4.3 million in funding. Investors include CUNA Mutual Group and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• H.I.G. Capital acquired Cardinal Logistics, a Concord, N.C.-based provider of outsourced transportation and logistics solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• EveryAction, which is backed by Insight Partners, acquired DonorTrends, a Springfield, Va.-based fundraising analysis firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Water’s Edge Dermatology, which is backed by Gryphon Investors, acquired a controlling interest in Coast Dermatology, a Venice, Fla.-based medical and cosmetic dermatology practice. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• VC Capital Partners will make a majority investment in Vitech Systems Group, a New York-based provider of cloud-based financial administration solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Travelstart, which is backed by Amadeus Capital Partners and HarbourVest, will buy the Club Travel Group, a Capetown-based is a travel agency. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Thebe Tourism Holdings was the seller.
• Teneo Holdings, a New York-based communications and advisory firm, agreed to sell a slight majority stake in the company to CVC Capital Partners, according to the Wall Street Journal. BC Partners is selling some of its stake but will continue to own nearly 50%. Read more.
• Euroclear, Europe’s largest stock and bond settlement house, is weighing an IPO or private placement, Reuters reports. Read more.
• Wanda Sports Group, a Beijing-based sporting and live events firm spinning out of Dalian Wanda Group, filed for a $500 million IPO. It booked $1.3 billion in 2018 and income of $61.9 million. Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Citi are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “WSG.” Read more.
• Grocery Outlet Holding, an Emeryville, Calif..-based operator of discount grocery stores, raised $275 million in an IPO of 17.2 million shares priced between $15 to $17. The firm posted sales of $2.3 billion in sales for the 12 months ended December 31, 2018 and income of $15.9 million. Hellman & Friedman backs the firm. BofA Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Guggenheim Securities, UBS Investment Bank, and Cowen are joint bookrunners. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “GO.” Read more.
• Dermavant Sciences, a London-based Phase 3 biotech for dermatological diseases, plans to raise $100 million in an IPO of 7.7 million shares priced between $12 to $14. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $42.7 million in 2018. Roviant backs the firm. Jefferies, SVB Leerink and Guggenheim Securities are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “DRMT.” Read more.
• Trive Capital sold Southern Towing Company, a Memphis, Tenn.-based inland tank barge operator, to CC Industries Inc. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.