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Quibi is reportedly considering laying off 10% of its employees following its underwhelming launch

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  • Quibi is reportedly considering laying off 10% of its more than 250 employees, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
  • The bite-sized streaming platform had a much-hyped launch in April, but its downloads and user numbers have been lackluster in the months since.
  • The Journal also reports that senior executives, including CEO Meg Whitman, are taking 10% pay cuts to offset Quibi's poor performance.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Once hyped as a much-anticipated platform for streaming bite-sized videos, Quibi is reportedly considering cutting around 10% of its staff following its lackluster debut.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday the company has discussed the possibility of laying off 10% of its 250 employees. Some of the company's top executives, including CEO Meg Whitman, are taking voluntary 10% cuts to their salaries, according to the Journal.
However, in a company memo provided to Business Insider, Whitman and Katzenberg told employees Quibi was "in a good financial position." The cofounders denied any plans to lay off staff and added the company has "recently" hired a dozen employees.
Additionally, Whitman and Katzenberg told staff that senior executives had "volunteered" to take a 10% pay cut "because it's the right thing to do."
Nonetheless, the Journal reported that potential layoffs would affect low- and mid-level employees. According to the Journal, "several" of Quibi's major advertisers are looking to renegotiate contracts with the platform.
Quibi executives initially pledged to spend $1.1 billion in the first year alone on its vertical, mobile-only, 10-minute video content. However, it appears the company may be forced to scale back its plans given its lack of interest.
News of potential layoffs come two months after Quibi launched to the public on April 6, on the back of $1.75 billion in funding and plans to spend nearly $500 million in marketing in the first year.
However, Quibi's launch was lackluster: The app has been downloaded 4.5 million times, even with a 90-day free trial offered to users. Quibi has around 1.5 million active users, compared with the tens of millions of subscribers using streaming services like Disney Plus and Netflix.
In a New York Times interview last month, Quibi cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg blamed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for "everything that has gone wrong" with the app. Yet beyond Quibi, other streaming platforms and social networks have seen spikes in use during the pandemic.
Some of the lack of hype could have to do with Quibi's decision to block screenshots of its content, preventing any of its 50 titles from getting shared online through user-generated memes and viral humor. After facing backlash for this decision, Katzenberg said last month it would "soon" allow users to share its content on social platforms, although the cofounder didn't provide a timeline or details about what changes Quibi is making.
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