For just about any business model, launching midst-pandemic would be a bad call. But for Quibi ($QUIBI), the short-form mobile streaming platform, launching now provided a potentially promising moment of consumer boredom and option-seeking. It's surprising, then, that in a time when Tik-Tok, Netflix, and YouTube are seeing soaring engagement numbers, that Quibi doesn't appear to be picking up any steam.

The new mobile-first network, backed by $1.75 billion in funding and leaders like Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, came out of the gates two weeks ago with aggressive social media marketing, more than 175 new programs, a 90-day free trial, and celebrity appearances from Chance the Rapper, Chrissy Teigen, and Liam Hemsworth. But early numbers suggest that, despite all of this, the buzz is flat for Quibi.

Last Tuesday, Meg Whitman told CNBC that 1.7 million people had downloaded Quibi, saying that numbers surpassed expectations. But as of today, only 2,250 reviews of the app have been posted to the App Store. Last Monday, 1,990 reviews had been posted. That means that in the past week, only around 250 new reviews have been posted.

And those reviews aren't largely positive. After its first week, the Quibi app's average review was a laudable 4.5 out of 5. But in the past week, that average review score has sunk to 3.6. User complaints that the app doesn't "support binge-watching" and that some of the new programs seem to miss the demographic mark ("none of these people even know what Punk'd is"). Others complain that the app forces viewing on mobile, locking out the option to watch shows on larger screens.

To be fair, others praise the large and diverse launch library of content, saying that "it's great for a start" and that it's "addicting". 

Quibi will no-doubt need a break-out hit in order to get things going. Netflix had its "House of Cards", Disney Plus had its "Mandalorian". So far, chatter about Quibi on Twitter doesn't reflect any break-out buzz. Follower count appears to be plateauing and has yet to break 50,000. 

It's likely that Whitman and co are pouring into similar numbers and re-thinking their second-inning strategy. Emblematic of this is slumping job-listing data, which showed only 7 openings at the end of last week. As of today, Quibi lists just 8 openings:

Title

As Of Date

Publicity Lead, Scripted

2020/04/19

Finance & Strategy Associate

2020/04/19

Internal Communications Specialist

2020/04/19

Partner Marketing Manager

2020/04/19

Ad Creative Strategist

2020/04/19

Software Developer in Test, Android

2020/04/19

Advertising Measurement and Insights Analyst

2020/04/19

Software Engineer, Backend

2020/04/19

It's entirely possible that Quibi has the team it needs to move forward, which could explain a lack of new openings. However, employee count — at least as measured by the number of profiles listing Quibi as an employer on LinkedIn — plateaued and then saw a distressing dip once the network launched.

This could be a sign that the company is already quietly letting people go or not renewing contracts with freelance workers, producers, and the like. 

Given the large stable of content, Quibi has already reportedly created, along with Whitman's claim that advertising slots are already sold out for the year, we may be looking at a streaming startup doing the same thing we are here: hunker down, watch the numbers, and make some decisions when the time comes. For now, though, things look flat for Quibi two weeks in.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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