Tali Arbel, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, October 21, 2020 8:43PM EDT
Short-video app Quibi said it is shutting down just six months after its early April launch, having struggled to find customers.
The company said Wednesday that it would wind down its operations and plans to sell its assets. “Quibi is not succeeding,” its top executives bluntly declared in a letter posted online.
The video platform – designed for people who were out and about to watch on their phones – was one of a slew of new streaming services started to challenge Netflix over the past few years, most of which were part of much bigger tech and entertainment companies, like Apple and Disney.
Quibi, short for “quick bites,” raised $1.75 billion from investors including Hollywood players Disney, NBCUniversal and Viacom and its leadership were big names: entertainment industry heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
But the service struggled to reach viewers, despite a 90-day free trial, as short videos abound on the internet and the coronavirus pandemic kept many people at home. Part of the appeal of the service, which started at $5 a month, was supposed to be that you could watch short videos while out, without access to a TV. Being stuck at home made TV more desirable than watching on a phone, and Quibi only later and slowly rolled out TV options. Katzenberg blamed the pandemic for Quibi’s woes.
Katzenberg’s connections helped line up stars to make and star in its videos, including Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lopez. There was a short version of “60 Minutes” and reality shows. The shows never achieved big name recognition, although the platform scored some Emmys earlier this year.
Why did it fail? “Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing,” Katzenberg and Whitman wrote. “Unfortunately, we will never know but we suspect it’s been a combination of the two.”
Quibi doesn’t release subscriber figures. Mobile research firm Sensor Tower estimates 9.6 million installations of Quibi’s mobile app since its launch; that doesn’t mean those are actually users. Other streaming services have benefited from having customers stuck at home during the pandemic. One of the most successful new services, Disney Plus, has more than 60 million subscribers. Netflix has had a blockbuster year.
“While we have enough capital to continue operating for a significant period of time, we made the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our talented colleagues with grace,” Whitman, the CEO, said in a statement.
The company said that money from the sale of its assets will go toward paying off liabilities and whatever remains will be returned to investors.
Canadian banks face revenue growth challenges as focus shifts from managing loan losses – Yahoo Canada Finance
(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc named Gary Nagle to take over as chief executive officer, when billionaire Ivan Glasenberg steps down after almost 20 years at the top of the world’s biggest commodity trader.“It’s time to hand over to a new generation and a new leader,” Glasenberg said on an investor call Friday. “We’ve decided that over the next six months I will be working closely with Gary Nagle, who will be taking over from me.”Nagle, like Glasenberg, is South African and similarly has degrees in commerce and accounting from the University of the Witwatersrand. Also like Glasenberg, he built his career by rising through the ranks of Glencore’s coal department. Now head of that business, Nagle’s appointment comes as Glencore committed to keeping its coal assets, despite speculation it could follow rivals in spinning them off.Glasenberg announced at the end of 2018 his plan to retire in the next few years, firing the starting gun on a closely watched race in which Nagle held off challenges from rivals including Kenny Ives and Nico Paraskevas. The transition comes as Glencore navigates through corruption probes, scrutiny of its environmental bona fides and a share price that’s lost half its value during the past decade.Known by some as a “mini-Ivan,” Nagle joined Glencore in 2000 as an asset manager in the coal department, going on to become chief executive of its Colombian coal operation, Prodeco, in December 2007. Following the acquisition of Xstrata, the 45-year-old was moved to run the company’s South Africa-focused alloy assets, and was later named head of coal assets.Maintaining Culture“He will maintain the culture and the style this company has,” Glasenberg said. “I’m happy to have him as the custodian of my shareholding in the company which I will maintain going forward.”Though Glasenberg is relinquishing the top job, he holds a 9.1% stake in Glencore, making him the second-biggest shareholder.Glencore’s shares rose as much as 4% in London, following the announcement.Glasenberg, who has long defended coal’s role in Glencore’s portfolio, said he would support Nagle if he decided to exit the business. Although he still believes Glencore is a better steward of its coal mines, Glasenberg said that if shareholders decided the coal unit should be sold or spun off, then Nagle would have to do it.“I’ll support him in anything that creates value for shareholders,” he said.Glasenberg’s impending departure follows that of his chief lieutenants, who themselves became billionaires when the company listed, have been leaving the past two years. The exodus included former head of copper trading Telis Mistakidis, head of oil Alex Beard and Daniel Mate, who headed up its zinc business.(Updates with comment from Glasenberg in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Doug Ford rebuffs calls to reopen retail shops at 25 per cent capacity in Toronto, Peel region – The Globe and Mail
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is rejecting a push from prominent retailers to reopen non-essential stores in Toronto and Peel, a day after they published an open letter urging the government to allow 25 per cent capacity in retail shops in lockdown regions.
Mr. Ford on Wednesday said he feels the pain of business owners who are forced to close until at least Dec. 20 during the lockdown, but said he is listening to the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and others guiding his government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d switch those things open in a heartbeat. But I can’t. I have to listen to the health experts,” Mr. Ford said during his daily press briefing at Queen’s Park.
“I’m a businessperson. I don’t want to close these down. But health trumps my personal belief.”
As part of the lockdown, big-box stores selling essential items – such as Costco and Walmart – are allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity, while other retail stores and small businesses cannot offer in-store shopping and are forced to sell items for delivery or curbside pickup only.
A coalition of nearly 50 retailers, including Canadian Tire, Indigo, Hudson’s Bay and others, this week called on the Ontario government to lift the COVID-19 restrictions that have shuttered stores just in time for the crucial holiday shopping season.
In an open letter released on Tuesday, the group said that the closing of retailers deemed non-essential in Peel Region, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, and in Toronto is “an ineffective policy” that puts retail businesses at risk of failure. The group called for Ontario to implement store capacity limits at 25 per cent of the building capacity for all retailers – not selective lockdowns with big-box stores open at 50 per cent capacity.
Signatories pushing for the changes said Wednesday they felt unfairly targeted by the government’s rules.
“[Retailers] feel undeservedly singled out as an initiative to stop the spread of COVID-19, when in fact the government’s own statistics indicate that retail is not a significant source of spread,” Leon’s Furniture Ltd. president and chief executive officer Edward Leon said in an e-mail on Wednesday.
David Bensadoun, CEO of the Aldo Group Inc., said the decision to keep non-essential stores shuttered would drive customers to American stores.
“Every time we do a lockdown of specialty stores, we’re hurting Canadian retail,” he said.
“Even though Canadian retailers have terrific online experiences, they cannot compete with the big American players for ad dollars, so when we shift consumers online, we’re largely shifting them to Amazon, Walmart and other American mega-players. I don’t envy Ford’s position, I don’t think it’s easy. But in this case I think he’s made a mistake, and the sooner he corrects it the better, because these are the biggest weeks of the year for shopping.”
Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books & Music Inc., said by funnelling more people into fewer stores, “you actually cause longer waiting lines with chance for closer contact. … This could create higher health risk while doing devastating damage to hundreds of businesses.”
Mr. Ford acknowledged that keeping big-box stores open for in-store shopping is “not fair,” but said they are intended to be a one-stop shop for groceries and other essential items. However, those stores also sell non-essential goods such as clothing, toys and gifts.
Ryan Mallough, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said small businesses are also calling for the government to present data that back up the need to keep independent retailers shuttered. His group has called for limited in-person and appointment-only shopping during the holiday season.
“If there’s any evidence that shopping at a busy big-box store with a couple hundred other people, even at 50 per cent capacity, is safer than at a small business with two or three other people, then show that data. Because right now that is one of the immensely frustrating things,” he said.
Ontario reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as well as 35 new deaths owing to the virus. Toronto and Peel account for more than half of the new infections, with 500 cases reported in Peel and 410 in Toronto. There were 196 new cases in York Region, north of Toronto, which is not in lockdown and still allows in-person shopping in malls and stores.
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Charity tree festooned with Dr. Strang's ties fetches $8K at auction – CBC.ca
As Nova Scotians get ready for Christmas, one anonymous person is celebrating with a tree like none other after winning it at auction for $8,250.
Instead of snowflakes or angels, this tree is adorned with ties from Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang.
Strang’s eclectic tie collection has been thrown into the spotlight during the province’s regular COVID-19 updates, which are streamed online. It was his wife’s idea to wear a different one every day.
“It became a part of the briefing, me wearing a different tie each time,” said Strang, who started receiving ties as gifts from people as he became a household name among Nova Scotians.
“I don’t think of myself as famous. In some ways, it’s kind of embarrassing. I just happen to be, because of my job, I’m the front face of this.”
‘Light bulb’ idea
A few months ago, Strang was at a book launch and ran into Starr Cunningham, president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.
Cunningham said she’s always trying to come up with ideas to decorate items for the charity’s big Festival of Trees fundraiser. That encounter led to what she called a “light bulb moment.”
“I thought, ‘Wow, what if we got those ties and got them on a tree?'” she said. “I just reached out to him on a whim and he replied immediately and said, ‘How many do you want?'”
Strang dug through his collection and found 22 ties, each with their own story. One was from Sawyer Burke, an 11-year-old from Hatchet Lake who has become Strang’s penpal.
“He was very excited that what he’s given to me, I was then giving forward to contribute to the fundraiser for broader contributions to mental health,” said Strang.
The tree, trimmed with ties and bottles of hand sanitizer, was placed on the auction block where Cunningham said it received an immediate response.
“We were amazed,” she said. “We were watching the bids all night, because the auction closed at 8:30 and it just kept growing and growing and growing.”
The final price tag was $8,250 — the highest price for any item in the auction.
A timely cause
Strang said the tree was the first direct request he’s received to support a charity, and he was particularly interested in the cause.
“As part of our pandemic response, we need to be paying attention to the mental health impact,” he said. “There’s significant increases around stress, anxiety, depression — particularly in young people.”
Cunningham said the money raised from the tree’s sale will be used to create grants for various programs. This year, the foundation has helped connect people to their families and clinicians during the pandemic through technology.
“Something as simple as a phone in their hand has helped them cope in the pandemic,” said Cunningham.
So far, she is tight-lipped about the tree’s anonymous buyer. But she said people will soon know who spent thousands on Strang’s ties.
“We’re not able to say at this point in time, but it will certainly be shared with the community very soon.”
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