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Quibi's Last News Story Ever? Shuttered Streaming Startup Settles Tech Suit with Eko

Quibi
Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former CEO Meg Whitman seen here in more effervescent times. (Image credit: JohnStaleyPhoto.com)

Quibi can finally rest in peace, having finally settled its biggest liability.

Now operating post mortem as "QBI Holdings, LLC," movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg's failed mobile streaming venture announced Wednesday a settlement with Israeli technology company Eko for undisclosed terms. 

“We are satisfied with the outcome of this litigation, and proud of the independently created contributions of Quibi and its engineering team to content presentation technology,” said Katzenberg, in a brief statement.

“This result will help ensure that eko remains the undisputed leader in interactive storytelling technology,” added Eko founder and CEO Yoni Bloch.

Quibi shut down in October 2020, less than six months after launch, with the service targeting on-the-go mobile video users with bite-sized snippets of premium original programming unable to scale in usage commensurate to the ambitions of a startup that had raised around $1.8 billion.

Was it really the stay-at-home measures of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Katzenberg claimed, that undermined Quibi's core out-and-about business model? Who knows. Some of Quibi's expensive shows seem to be performing well on their adoptive OTT home, the Roku Channel, but there doesn't seem to be a watercooler hit in the bunch that would transform a moribund streaming launch into a relevant video platform, say as Ted Lasso has done for Apple TV Plus. 

So here we are, at maybe the last train stop for Quibi as the kind of enterprise that can justify news coverage. 

Eko sued Quibi, claiming that the streaming service's core technology feature, Turnstyle, was stolen from it. 

As you might recall, Turnstyle was the "go 90" feature that let users toggle their phones between landscape and portrait mode. In fact, Quibi shows were shot with two distinct production pipelines, with the intent of having viewers regularly make this intuitive adjustments as the service's shows, cut into 10-minute episodes, moved along. 

Eko claimed that three Quibi engineers attended its demonstration of the technology that was used to create Turnstyle while they served their previous employer, Snap. 

And in January, three months after Quibi shut down, a federal judge in California ruled that Eko had enough circumstantial evidence going for it to keep the case going. 

So is this the last time we talk about Quibi? Maybe not.

The New York Times' tech impresario Kara Swisher just sat down with Katzenberg for a Quibi post-mortem Q&A, during which the mogul indicated that he might not be done with startups. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.