CNN has acquired Beme, the social app co-founded by YouTuber Casey Neistat. As part of the deal, Neistat will lead the Beme team as a new standalone media sub-brand operating under CNN’s umbrella as executive producer, and all 11 members of the Beme team will join the ranks of the news network, according to Variety.
Beme’s had an interesting history, with a founding vision of providing a means for users to share quick, short clips of video without edits, as a means of bridging the gap between live streaming and more polished YouTube-style creator production. Neistat discussed Beme’s founding vision and financial state on state at Disrupt New York 2016, where he noted that he didn’t actually pay himself a salary as a way of mitigating burn rate for the startup.
The social app actually launched in summer of 2015, but despite early success claims including half a million downloads and one million videos uploaded within its first few days of availability, things went quiet about the app following its debut – so much so that Neistat even posted an explainer video on YouTube a year after launch explaining “what the hell happened” to the app. This preceded a May relaunch as the app exited beta with many bug fixes and functional adjustments in tow.
Beme still never really found its footing, at least not with anywhere near the success of comparable social video apps like Snapchat or Musical.ly. Still, CNN is acquiring it with the intent of investing in the team (hiring producers, developers and content creators) and the product in order to create a new brand focused on a millennial audience, according to Variety.
This isn’t the first time CNN has looked to acquisition as a means to try to help it supplement its approach to digital media; the news giant previously acquired Flipboard competitor Zite in 2011, before ultimately flipping the digital pub to Flipboard itself in 2014.
Neistat had previously announced he would be ending his long-running daily vlog to focus on other projects, and now it’s clear he was talking about this tie-up with CNN.