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Quibi to Shutter Service Dec. 1, But Eko Still Pursuing Legal Action Over ‘Turnstyle’

Stephanie Sengwe

Earlier this week, Quibi shocked many as founder, Jeffery Katzenberg announced he would shutting down the service merely after six months post-launch. Now, it looks like the service will be down before the year is over as the company announced the service will go dark on or around Dec. 1. What’s more, it’s not clear whether the streamer’s content will be available anywhere else after it shutters.

Quibi’s launch has been a rough one. One of the top selling points for the service was the fact that it offered bite-sized entertainment and news for people on-the-go. Unfortunately, it launched on April 6, right as the entire country was locked down due to the advent of COVID-19. As such, it’s mobile-only viewing model became a point of contention for users.

Quibi was also wrestling with Eko over the Turnstyle technology. The interactive-video company filed a lawsuit against Quibi over patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets in March, before Quibi even got off the ground.

Eko claims they demonstrated a “horizontal-to-vertical video technology” for Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg during an investment meeting back in 2017. Katzenberg decided to pass on the investment and later went onto file a patent on Turnstyle in 2019.

Though Quibi may be shutting down, Eko says it will not relent on the lawsuit. “We have put Quibi on notice that it cannot simply wind down its business, send its investors hundreds of millions of dollars and sell its stolen technology to a third party without first resolving its issues with Eko. We intend to vigorously pursue Eko’s rights to ensure that Quibi does not exacerbate the harm it has already caused,” Eko lawyer Neel Chatterjee of Goodwin Procter, said in a statement.

For CEO Meg Whitman, though shutting down the service wasn’t their favorite option, but it was the right thing to do. “We tried a lot of different things over the summer, whether it was payment-less free trial, 90-day free trial, 14-day free trial. We changed marketing around entirely to be more title marketing than platform marketing, which we made a lot of changes and we also you know, tried a completely different business model in Australia. And ultimately none of it really changed the fundamental answer, that we needed more capital and we needed more capital relatively soon,” she told Deadline.

“And so I would say it’s just been a journey for Jeffrey and I as we’ve looked very clear-eyed at the data and said what’s the right thing to do…Ultimately probably a couple weeks ago we said, you know, the right thing to do, the hard right but the right thing to do is to return cash to shareholders.”

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