Casey Nesitat, popular and polarizing YouTube personality and filmmaker, is leaving CNN and Beme, the video sharing app he co-founded with Matt Hackett. CNN acquired Beme in 2016 to great fanfare at a reported price tag of $25 million, envisioning Neistat and his team as the key to expanding their digital news brand. So what happened?
CNN's acquisition of Beme was a strategic attempt to leverage Neistat's talent and enormous social media following, driving new viewers towards their programming and digital properties. The Beme app was to be shuttered and transformed into a digital news platform, with Neistat and his team fashioning a brand that would appeal to millennial audiences.
Those plans have apparently come to naught with Neistat voicing frustration with his inability to come up with a viable strategy for the venture. He told BuzzFeed News, "I couldn’t find answers. 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."
Beme never found its place at CNN, as the team struggled to define and make progress with the new digital brand. The Beme News YouTube channel has only published 41 videos, a far cry from plans to create daily news content. Neistat himself has gone back to creating videos and vlogs for his popular YouTube channel over the past few months, slowly immersing himself back into what he knows best.
CNN has said that it will try to find positions in the company for many members of Beme's 22-person team, but some people will be let go. While Beme will no longer be a standalone business at CNN, the company will continue to house and develop its technology and digital products.
In a new video, Neistat candidly discusses his departure but does not offer any answers as to what his future holds. Odds are good that he will continue to create his entertaining and wildly popular vlogs and tech reviews. In fact, just three days ago, he released a fantastic video reviewing the new Mavic Air.
Lead Image by TechCrunch (Creative Commons 2.0 license).