Every year, a personal Upfront Summit highlight is getting to sit down with experts in a field I care about. Sometimes that’s venture capital generally (like last year’s conversation with Reid Hoffman) and sometimes it’s in a space where I’ve invested (like mobility and city innovation with Bird’s Travis VanderZanden, one of our portfolio founders.)
I’ve spent a lot of my career thinking about digital and online video (with investments in companies like Maker Studios) so for that reason amongst many, I was excited to open the Upfront Summit a few weeks ago by interviewing Meg Whitman about Quibi and the digital media space.
Of course you’ve probably known of Meg as a business leader for many years, formerly as President and CEO of Hewlett Packard and the CEO of eBay before that, but since late 2018 she has been the CEO of Quibi (joining founder Jeffrey Katzenberg as the first employee). Between the heavy hitters at the helm, the more than $1.4B raised (more on that later), and the A-list names they’ve signed up for their first batch of content, they’ve certainly raised a lot of expectations and more than a few opinions. So I was excited for the audience to have the chance to hear from Meg in advance of Quibi’s April 6th launch.
I encourage you to watch the entire 30 minute video (below or here) both for insights into Quibi and understanding how a leader like Meg thinks about innovation, but I’ll also pull out a few highlights.
Why (and who) she thinks will pay for premium Quibi content
In a world of Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and YouTube, why would a customer choose to pay the $4.99 monthly subscription (or $8 ad free) for Quibi? Meg shared the perspective that Quibi is targeting a different kind of viewing experience (mobile-only video, which she say is only 10% of the viewing for other streaming services and virtually none during the day) and a different kind of content than what exists currently.
They’re primarily thinking about 7 AM — 7 PM mobile viewing of movies, lighter scripted and unscripted programming, and daily news/sports/politics, in the kinds of 10-minute content chunks you can consume on your commute or waiting at the dentist. Hence, her analogy of content like “The Da Vinci Code” which had 464 pages and 105 bite-sized, fully realized chapters. In essence, you’re not intimidated by the size of each episode so you dig in and might just read 8 chapters in a sitting before realizing you read 35 pages. And so it is with video.
(Quibi = “quick bites”). But unlike some of the existing mobile video on YouTube or IGTV which typically costs at most $1-5K/minute to produce, Quibi is focusing on high-quality production value content, spending up to $100K/minute on some programming (in line with typical streaming services like Netflix.)
“We would argue that our movies are world-class movies, just designed entirely for mobile.”
She also spoke about how they’ve seen premium content creators respond creatively to Quibi’s unique portrait — landscape format, and how they’re banking on what could be seen as a constraint to really produce unexpected, innovative content. For example, she spoke about how Steven Spielberg wanted to create a horror-based program that viewers could only watch at midnight. To time-restrict content requires an entirely new platform, one that only Quibi can support to date.
How Quibi is a technology platform first and then a content platform
Being an investor in LA and having seen a decade’s worth of video startup ideas, one of the reasons many video startups fail is because they think they can just distribute content online the way they’ve done it offline for a hundred years, without the innovation of technology. (And of course there are the Silicon Valley video startups who think it’s all about the tech and ignore the storytelling.)
Meg spoke about how Quibi first built out the technology platform and only then exposed it to content creators, and how technology is primary to the platform both in content creation as well as how customers will experience the content. That includes things like:
- Structure of the “turnstile” content — the content needs to be originally filmed and edited to deliver a seamless portrait and landscape edit, with the sound synced. This is an entirely new way of filming
- Personalization — to provide a curated feed new each day, they’re not just tagging every piece of content, they’re metatagging each frame of content to get viewers what they want, faster
- Interactivity — by designing or mobile consumption, they can eventually take advantage of every aspect of the phone including the camera, the touchscreen, the gyroscope, etc.
“There’s a long history in Los Angeles and Hollywood of technology enabling new ways to tell stories … We’ve created a really interesting technology platform that has inspired creators to do things in a completely different way. ”
She also spoke about the importance of 5G and why they think Quibi will be a perfect use case for the technology.
Why they raised so much initial funding
As I said in the interview, we at Upfront come from the land of small first rounds of financing. But Quibi has raised $1.4 billion and counting, before they’ve ever released a piece of content (I jokingly called it a $1 billion seed round). Why?
Meg shared their reasoning that Quibi would face two big challenges. First, given their unique format, they would have no existing library of content. But when you’re serving up 10 minute bites of content you can’t launch with just four shows. So they felt they needed to invest heavily in creating a breadth of high-quality content from day 1.
Second, no one had ever heard of Quibi, so they felt they needed to spend a lot of money on marketing to build the brand and awareness. If you watched the Oscars recently, you probably saw ads for a few Quibi shows — definitely a big and expensive promotional bet for a “startup”.
“We decided that to give ourselves a real fighting chance to make this work, we had to raise enough money to be able to create, at launch, a completely immersive experience.”
April’s launch will give us a lot more insight into Quibi’s big bet but I appreciated having the chance to hear Meg’s vision for the service. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Why Meg Whitman is Betting on Quibi as“The Da Vinci Code of Content” was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Swipe’s SXP Token Jumps Over 25% Ahead of Swipe Governance Mainnet Deployment
The price of Swipe’s SXP token has jumped well over 25%, from $1.29 to $1.65 at press time, after Swipe Governance’s (SG) smart contracts were successfully audited by CertiK and SG’s mainnet deployment started being prepared. According to an announcement posted on Twitter, Swipe Governance’s smart contracts were successfully audited by CertiK, and Swipe Governance’s […]
The price of Swipe’s SXP token has jumped well over 25%, from $1.29 to $1.65 at press time, after Swipe Governance’s (SG) smart contracts were successfully audited by CertiK and SG’s mainnet deployment started being prepared.
According to an announcement posted on Twitter, Swipe Governance’s smart contracts were successfully audited by CertiK, and Swipe Governance’s mainnet is now scheduled to be deployed on Friday, October 2.
The tweet points out that the Swipe Governance protocol will allow SXP token holders to vote and control various paraments of the cryptocurrency’s development via the Swipe network.
Responding to the announcement some users touted their faith was restored in the project and they are now “super bullish” on it. Notably, others pointed out that the news appeared to have been leaked somewhere, as before the official announcement the price of the SXP token started surging.
The code behind the Swipe Token itself had notably already been audited by CertiK. In an announcement published last year, Swipe pointed out the audit was meant to ensure the SXP token would be “secure against some of the most critical vulnerabilities.”
The token, the team wrote, is the “center piece of network fuel and access to receiving the services provided by Swipe.” The announcement details CertiK conducts audits using Formal Verification, which goes beyond checking for bugs and vulnerabilities and “leverages rigorous mathematical theorems to check whether the source code of a program meets its specification.”
The Swipe Governance audit announcement saw SXP’s price jump to over $1.8 before the token’s price started correcting. The token hit an all-time high of $4.3 back in August, one month after leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance acquired Swipe for an undisclosed sum.
Binance acquired Swipe and listed the SXP token back then. The cryptocurrency exchange’s acquisition of the firm appears to be related to its Binance Visa Card, a cryptocurrency debit card that lets users pay with crypto anywhere Visa is accepted.
The Binance Visa Card uses Swipe’s technology and rolled out to users in the European Economic Area earlier this month.
Featured image via Pixabay.
Bitcoin Closes Above $10,000 for a Record 63 Days Straight
Bitcoin (BTC) continues to break new ground. According to data aggregated by Messari, on Sunday, 27 Sept., it broke another record — closing at $10,793, thus making it 63 consecutive daily closes above the $10,000 handle. The current streak eclipses the previous record of 62 days, which lasted from Dec 1, 2017 – Jan 31, […]
The post Bitcoin Closes Above $10,000 for a Record 63 Days Straight appeared first on BeInCrypto.
Bitcoin (BTC) continues to break new ground. According to data aggregated by Messari, on Sunday, 27 Sept., it broke another record — closing at $10,793, thus making it 63 consecutive daily closes above the $10,000 handle.
The current streak eclipses the previous record of 62 days, which lasted from Dec 1, 2017 – Jan 31, 2018, a period during which bitcoin reached its all-time high of just above $19,900.
Bitcoin’s latest extended consolidation above the five-digit mark, however, is proving different than previous runs. This time around, there is less hype, and in terms of price, things are relatively quiet, mostly fluctuating between $10,000 and $12,500.
During the last three months, any dips under 10k were aggressively bought. And according to The Crypto Lark, this is evidence of “halving effects starting to be felt.” In reaction to the news, the co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital and well-known podcaster Anthony Pompliano, for his part, tweeted:
Striking a slightly different tone, Matt Kaye, the managing partner of Blockhead Capital, commented,
we are essentially at $11k with no euphoria. No derivative long build-up. High stablecoin balances. Shorts are still unwinding. The sentiment is cautious at best (justifiably so with macro backdrop). Appreciate the rarity of this moment.
The broken record occurred around the same time it came to light that investment firm Grayscale was again adding to its Bitcoin Trust. At current prices, the additional investments are said to be about 17,100 BTC, worth approximately $186 million.
Meanwhile, bitcoin’s price is approaching a crucial resistance area, a breakout above which could confirm that the trend is bullish. For more in-depth Bitcoin analysis, click here.
Optimism For Ethereum as Layer 2 Testnet Gets Launched: What Does It Mean?
Layer 2 scaling developers at the Plasma Group have recently announced the launch of their Optimistic Ethereum testnet, which will be deployed on projects to test much needed scaling solutions.
Essentially, Layer 2 scaling involves taking work off the root chain to process data and transactions faster. The team has built a system called OVM, a fully-featured Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compliant execution environment designed for L2 systems.
The OVM was first tested on Uniswap’s Unipig L2 decentralized exchange launched as a demo in late 2019.
At long last – light at the end of the tunnel. Welcome to the first phase of the Optimistic Ethereum Testnet ⛅️. https://t.co/cjfhB0WU98
— Optimism (@optimismPBC) September 25, 2020
Synthetix The First Guinea Pig
The Optimistic Ethereum testnet will be rolled out in several phases bringing early adopters on gradually so that the team can individually support each project.
On-chain synthetic assets DeFi protocol Synthetix will be the first to trial the scaling solutions offering 200,000 SNX in rewards to their users for participating. The team added that the testnet is currently open for public use, but not yet for public contract deployment as there will be bugs that need ironing out first.
Phase A of the testing will involve airdropped tokens that will allow participants to mint and burn sUSD, the Synthetix native stablecoin, and claim staking rewards. This will be done using the Görli Ethereum testnet.
Phase B will enable deposits and include an airdrop of Layer 1 Görli SNX tokens to participants who can increase their stakes if they perform a deposit. Phase C will allow withdrawals, and participants must complete a successful withdrawal to receive their testnet rewards on the mainnet.
Optimistic Ethereum is the only generalized L2 solution for Ethereum, which means that it does not require specific functionality to be built to support existing L1 protocols.
Synthetix posted a guide for users wanting to take part in the tests, stating;
“This is a huge milestone for Synthetix, Optimistic Ethereum, and indeed the entire Ethereum space.”
— Synthetix ⚔️ (@synthetix_io) September 25, 2020
Ethereum Fees Update
A week after the digital dust has settled from the Uniswap airdrop and UNI launch, gas fees have fallen back a little. From a high of almost $12 on September 17, the average transaction fee has fallen back to around $2.75, according to Bitinfocharts.
This is still way too high, though, and it is hoped that many more Layer 2 solutions will be deployed to DeFi protocols over the coming months so that they can remain on Ethereum. The ETH 2.0 scaling upgrade is still at least a year away, so efforts such as Optimistic Ethereum could become its savior until then.
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