Back in 2016, CNN bet $25 million on a celebrity vlogger with an app called Beme he himself seemed to have abandoned. The network hoped that Casey Neistat and his Beme co-founder Matt Hackett would help lure in millennials, but on Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that CNN is shutting down the media venture. Neistat and Hackett confirmed the news in a YouTube video and Medium post, respectively.
“This is not the story of the aging conglomerate that couldn’t innovate and rejected the young startup blood,” Hackett said in his Medium post. No, it’s just the story of a nebulous venture that failed to establish relevance.
Most of the Beme team will be absorbed into jobs within CNN, but Hackett notes in his Medium post that some people will lose their jobs due to Beme’s demise. Both Neistat and Hackett are leaving the company. “To what?” Neistat said in his departure video. “I don’t know, and I’m not ready to announce that yet.”
According to the BuzzFeed report, Neistat struggled to adapt to the expectations of his new working environment following the acquisition, “retreating into what he knew best—producing videos for his personal YouTube channel.”
“I couldn’t find answers,” Neistat told BuzzFeed. “I would sort of disappear, and I would hide, and I would make YouTube videos for my channel because at least I would be able yield something. I don’t think I’m giving CNN what I want to give them, and I don’t think they’re getting value from me.”
Perhaps the path to youths is not a steep gamble on a social media-obsessed 35-year-old who once said of the venture, “We really didn’t know what we were doing.”
In an email to Gizmodo, CNN confirmed the news. We have reached out to Neistat for comment and will update this story if and when he responds.
Do you have information about what it was like to work for Neistat and Hackett at Beme? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org