Quibi, the startup startup of Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, is already in court mode.
Just a month after it launched on April 6, the mobile streaming service is asking top executives to cut the payout by 10 percent, as coronavirus blockages have slashed demand for their short videos, which are targeted people on the move.
In an internal note obtained by The Post, founder Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman confirmed that they themselves were taking pay cuts, calling them “the right thing.”
The news comes after reports that Quibi was cutting costs, including cutting 10 percent of its workforce, which totals 250 employees. Citing anonymous sources, The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday night that the layoff talks would primarily affect low and mid-level employees.
Quibi’s note comes in response to a Page Six story on Tuesday, who claimed that Quibi, who had already started laying off employees, recently handed out a $ 6 million check to actress Reese Witherspoon, sparking anger at the cost cuts.
“Nothing has changed since our last company meeting two weeks ago,” the memo said. “Quibi is in a good financial position. As we said at that meeting, we will look for ways to tighten our belts. We are not laying off staff as part of cost saving measures. We have recently added a dozen new Quibi employees. “
Executives also disputed Witherspoon’s $ 6 million payday, but gave no further details. Quibi spokeswoman Gina Stikes echoed that the company “is not firing anyone,” adding that the Witherspoon payment was “atrociously inflated,” but declined to provide details, citing “confidentiality.”
Quibi has raised approximately $ 1.75 billion from tech companies, movie studios, and wealthy people, who believed in Katzenberg’s vision that consumers would stream high-production short shows via smartphone while on the go. But the pandemic has thrown a key in that plan as home-bound consumers are watching longer series on larger screens.
Several of Quibi’s top advertisers are trying to renegotiate their contracts, and the company is facing a lawsuit from New York-based interactive video company Eko, alleging patent infringement and theft of its trade secrets. Quibi has denied those charges.
Costing $ 4.99 a month with ads and $ 7.99 a month without ads, Quibi has been installed by users approximately 4.5 million times, including about 1.6 million users who signed up for a 90-day free trial.