A year and a half after Elliott Management-backed interactive-video company Eko accused the then soon-to-launch Quibi of stealing the technology behind the much touted Turnstyle feature, the likely exhausted parties have struck a deal.
Set to be filed in federal court in the next few days for official confirmation, Quibi corporate successor QBI Holdings, LLC and Eko have agreed to end their lawsuits against each other. Details of the deal are confidential, but no money changed hands, Deadline hears.
At one point in the lawsuits, Eko had been asking for just over $96 million from Quibi.
What has changed hands today is the Turnstyle IP and tech.
Allowing viewers to literally flip their devices for whole new aspects of particular programming, the much-hyped smartphone feature that started all this back in those dark days of March 2020.
In their early filings, Eko alleged that the Turnstyle tech was lifted from them years back by some well briefed ex-Snap staffers who later went to work for Quibi. Eko also claimed that in a 2017 meeting with Eko execs, Katzenberg was informed about the horizontal-to-vertical video software that became the Turnstyle tech.
Late last year, as Quibi was going through its death throes, Judge Christina Snyder determined that there was “sufficient” evidence that the trio of ex-Snap staffers had committed theft of trade secrets. Still, even with that and putting the patient infringement aspect of the matter out to pasture, Judge Snyder did not allow Eko to put Quibi’s assets on ice, which kept this whole thing going long after there was no Quibi to quibble over.
Today, with everyone wearing their legal bandages, it’s all settlement sweetness.
“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 Quibi founder and chairman Katzenberg in a short statement. Despite its humbling cratering in the marketplace, in the courts Quibi had actually been quite successful in fending off Eko’s motions and moves …well, except for that trade secrets thing.
Not that such a result matters much now.
“This result will help ensure that Eko remains the undisputed leader in interactive storytelling technology,” said eko boss Yoni Bloch Wednesday of his company’s victory, with equal brevity as the ex-DWA chief.
It is another quiet epilogue in what started out as a big and loud saga.
Shot out of the cannon by Katzenberg with $1.75 billion in start-up capital, Quibi launched its subscription service and a slew of A-lister short form shows in April 2020. Even though it was reaching the market on a wave of big budget marketing, including ads on the Super Bowl and Academy Awards telecasts, Quibi immediately faced a stiff challenge in the form of Covid-19.
Its “quick bite,” on-the-go programming suddenly played very differently, and compounding that was the lack of breakout shows. The fact that most of its target market was not on the move at all in a mainly locked down America certainly didn’t help an already hard slog.
After struggling through the summer, a self described “clear-eyed” Katzenberg and Whitman announced in October that they were facing reality and Quibi would shut down by December 1, 2020. In January 2021, dozens of its shows were scooped up by Roku and re-deployed on the company’s free, ad-supported Roku Channel. The acquisition cost, Roku said, was significantly less than $100 million.