In an interview with BuzzFeed, Neistat said he was unable to come up with a strategy for Beme at CNN, and that he increasingly found himself absent at his own company. The deal is valued at about $25 million, according to people familiar with the matter. In addition, Neistat and Beme co-founder Matt Hackett will be leaving the company. It also sounds like CNN wanted to see if Neistat's experience in making popular YouTube videos could translate into a new and younger audience for its news group. But the service struggled to grow and compete with apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
In his own post on Medium, Hackett says the Beme team made two products, including Panels, an app for Android and iOS that allowed users to upload video opinions about news topics.
Neistat revealed the news Thursday morning in a video on his YouTube channel. Neistat even pitched it as an answer to BuzzFeed and Vice News in an appearance at the Cannes Lions advertising and media festival previous year. He offered a stark assessment of his time at CNN. In a cover story previous year for The Hollywood Reporter, Neistat recalled a meeting with Zucker, who brought his teenage son Andrew.
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The Beme News YouTube channel will still live on under CNN, which has more than 200,000 subscribers and a small library of videos.
"Jeff says to me, 'You know, we have a huge news operation here; it's a global enterprise, '" Neistat said. In the cover story, CNN's president, Jeff Zucker, said he became interested in Neistat after learning about him from his teenage son.
Members of Beme's product and development team have been offered jobs at CNN. After launching the year before, the app had flourished, with users uploading short videos to their profiles. "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".
CNN is absorbing Beme as part of the shutdown of the company. "You can't be afraid to take chances if you want to stay on top of an industry that is changing every day", Andrew Morse, CNN Digital's general manager, said in a statement.