Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi Odyssey: Blind Hubris or Ambition Denied?

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi Odyssey: Blind Hubris or Ambition Denied?


How tall a stain on Jeffrey Katzenberg’s account is the failure of Quibi?
The dilapidated Hollywood govt has been the motive force in the lend a hand of about a of the industry’s myth successes nowa days — significantly the revival of Disney Animation in the leisurely ’80s and early ’90s with its signature hit “The Lion King.” DreamWorks SKG, co-essentially based with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, was a vastly ambitious strive and put a predominant Hollywood studio on the flip of the century. Out of that enterprise came DreamWorks Animation, which introduced us delightful motion images and myth blockbusters bask in “Shrek,” “Trolls” and “Concepts to Put collectively Your Dragon.”
Nonetheless Katzenberg’s prominence in the clubby world of Hollywood masked the actuality that an extraordinarily good deal of his most ambitious ventures did now not fulfill their promise: DreamWorks by no device executed orbit, in the crash selling to Paramount. DreamWorks Animation was spun off as Katzenberg’s challenge, which he spent years building and at final bought to NBCUniversal in 2016, an that many knowing to be a lucky put. His early records superhighway evangelism foundered in, and his shut to-spiritual ardor for 3D motion images — which he predicted would transform the film industry — came to naught.
Restful, all of these pale beside the $2 billion implosion of Quibi, which launched in April and can even shut down on December 1 after lower than a three hundred and sixty five days of operation.
“There’s an queer phrase that’s fundamentally spoken about Jeffrey — ‘Don’t wager towards Jeffrey,’” one dilapidated govt acknowledged. “No one works harder. No one sells harder. No one recruits greater. And no-one believed in his hang thought — its supposed brilliance, and his hang skill to will Quibi into existence — more than Jeffrey… Nonetheless the hubris of Quibi — the self belief, the audacity — that’s what takes my breath away.”
Also Read: Interior Quibi’s $2 Billion Fail – No, It Wasn’t the Pandemic
“When the Streetlights Trot On” (Quibi)
The dilapidated govt’s rob was echoed in conversations all over Hollywood final week, including among Katzenberg’s many chums, few of whom would be in contact for quotation. In an industry fundamentally fueled by schadenfreude, the cease of Quibi was regarded with rueful be apologetic about for the squandered funding, the jobs misplaced, the aborted initiatives. And, enormously, the blinkered drive of Katzenberg himself — centered on an epically tall swing as he neared his seventh decade. (Katzenberg declined to be interviewed for this fable.)
Wall Aspect toll road drew a same conclusion as these in Hollywood — although traders on the boulevard beget been largely unaffected by the loss of life of the streaming upstart. Quibi raised $1.8 billion from non-public traders, but made exclusively $3.3 million in subscription income, in step with Apptopia.
“It’s a predominant dusky conception for Katzenberg and the total personnel,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives acknowledged final week. “It’s correct staggering how fast this came and went.”
Loup Ventures analyst Doug Clinton added, “Ceaselessly whenever it is seemingly you’ll possibly also beget firms and entrepreneurs, they stir off and beget genuinely tall ideas — and each so often these don’t work out. No one is immune from that, no longer even Jeffrey Katzenberg.”
Whereas insiders praise Katzenberg for his imaginative and prescient and resolve, they present that these qualities can even beget blinded him to the shortcomings of making an self ample subscription streaming service correct as most Hollywood conglomerates from Disney to NBCUniversal to WarnerMedia beget been launching their very hang.
The switch was signature Katzenberg, an indefatigable comer who can even beget heard and neglected the refrain of nay-sayers suggesting that he and Meg Whitman, 64, beget been unwell-suited to foretell the habits of the children and young adults who beget been Quibi’s target market. Within the cease, the core misfire was having a wager that Gen Y and Z beget been hungry for excessive-quality, short-design express material to sight exclusively on their telephones — and willing to pay a monthly price for it.
“What’s just correct about him is he has boundless decision and energy,” acknowledged one dilapidated agent, who declined to make employ of his identify. “Couple that with his contacts and monetary resources, he can fetch issues going. He can fetch it done. (Nonetheless) bask in somebody, the truth that it is seemingly you’ll possibly also fetch it done doesn’t mean it would possibly possibly have to beget been done… And on this one, he was messing in an space that wasn’t in his experiential wheelhouse. It was an mental judgement, no longer his abilities.”
The dilapidated govt added: “It was bright to sight the premise of Quibi design. He talked to actually everybody about it, without end. And I am confident that… there beget been many others who challenged his premise. There beget been many who challenged his industry model. There are an extraordinarily good deal of who challenged his timing. I imagine that he largely neglected the realists. And tried to bend the sphere to his will.”
Also Read: Why Hollywood Unions Don’t appear to be Mourning Quibi’s Death
Anna Kendrick in Quibi’s “Dummy” (Quibi)
Quibi’s flaws will be glaring now, but it’s easy to leer how Katzenberg won over traders and A-checklist express material creators.
He holds shut to-legendary region in as much as the moment Hollywood, the closest to an imperial Lew Wasserman-bask in settle that the industry has. Katzenberg is diagnosed to work harder than a diminutive navy, scheduling three breakfast conferences a day, admonishing personnel in a worthy-repeated aphorism (that can if fact be told be apocryphal) that if they “don’t arrive in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday.”
He was also the author of a principal memo in 1991, when he was head of the Disney film studio, that presciently struck on the coronary heart of the problems plaguing the manner forward for the industry. (The memo inspired Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire” manifesto in that film). He advocated for excessive-caliber talent and tall ideas “with which match motion images will be made.” He principal: “We… beget the interior talent, creativity and absolute skill to govern our hang destiny.”
And it was real. At Disney, Katzenberg was empowered to lead by CEO Michael Eisner, who had mentored him at Paramount Photos, the put aside each men had labored below media magnate Barry Diller. Katzenberg’s imaginative and prescient for Disney paid off, as he rebuilt the animation studio after decades of moribund initiatives and worse monetary results. Disney discovered its crown jewel in the 1994 blockbuster “The Lion King,” accompanied by a top-selling album and hit Broadway adaptation, alongside with many other a hit titles including “Class and the Beast” and an expand in stature for ABC tv.
Alternatively, in 1994, Eisner pushed Katzenberg out, publicly citing his lack of self belief in Katzenberg’s industry abilities. Wounded, Katzenberg turned to ventures that would possibly possibly fetch his hang legacy previous Eisner and Disney.
That led to DreamWorks SKG, DreamWorks Animation and then Quibi.
A more careful study Katzenberg’s career would indicate that his items lie more as a express material govt than as a visionary businessman, although most cite his unquenchable drive as what distinguishes him most. Arguably, Katzenberg’s account as an leisure entrepreneur by no device met the excessive bar of his achievements as an employee at Disney, regardless of an ambition that by no device dimmed.
Less kindly, some declare the drive to fetch Quibi “was pushed by ego,” as one dilapidated observer build it. “A prefer by two growing outdated executives to fetch relevance. A would favor to invent a brand fresh well-liked digital act — bask in Barry Diller.”
To that, the dilapidated agent acknowledged: “If Jeff Katzenberg beget been a stock, I’d protect onto it, and per chance take hang of some.”
Also Read: 9 Most Narrative Tech Failures Since Y2K, From Microsoft Zune to Quibi (Photos)

Five years ago, Katzenberg was in a shut to-fatal automobile accident that laid him up for weeks. His Tesla was totaled. His real wrist and arm beget been shattered. Death was a hair’s breadth away. One can even need knowing that this brush with mortality can even need slowed him down.
It didn’t. As a replace he redoubled his efforts to sell DreamWorks Animation, which he managed to unload for $3.8 billion the next three hundred and sixty five days, and then threw himself into creating Quibi. “For me, I’ve got to fetch on that horse and fetch the next mountain to cost up,” Katzenberg suggested CNBC on Thursday. “It’s the fully factor I do know the device to attain, and I’ve got loads to indicate.”
Nonetheless in latest days, Katzenberg has privately suggested chums that, for once, he supposed to lie low and “stir below the radar” for a minute, in step with an individual shut to him.
Now not that that is also the final we hear of him. “He’s mute a memoir,” Clinton acknowledged.  “If I needed to wager money on him, I specialise in you’d must say he’ll rebound.”
Sean Burch contributed to this article. 
Related studies from TheWrap:Why Hollywood Unions Don’t appear to be Mourning Quibi’s Death9 Most Narrative Tech Failures Since Y2K, From Microsoft Zune to Quibi (Photos)Interior Quibi’s $2 Billion Fail – No, It Wasn’t the Pandemic
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