Chill lays off 40 percent of its staff after bet on premium content fails to pay off

Talk about awkward timing: Los Angeles-based video distribution platform laid off 40 percent of its staff and pulled the plug on its distribution platform for premium content this week, just days after Fast Company published a glowing profile of the company. Chill essentially tried to give everyone the tools to sell videos like Louis CK did. The layoffs were first reported by The Wrap, and have since been confirmed by co-founder Brian Norgard, who said via email:

“We discovered that the sales/acquisition cycles around premium content to be somewhat inconsistent with our self-serve distribution model. Premium content creators still want deep human assistance in creating sales, marketing and multi-window distribution plans.”

Norgard said that the layoffs primarily affected the entertainment team, but some engineers have been laid off as well. A core team of nine people is left, but it’s unclear what the team will do next, and how much resources it has left to pursue new opportunities. Norgard told me that the site will stay up for at least another 60 days, after which it may be sold.

Chill isn’t exactly new to reinventing itself: It launched as a clone for video content in 2011, then switched over to offer synchronized live viewing experiences around Hulu content. After that, it tried its luck as a kind of Pinterest for videos, and finally settled on a Louis CK-like content distribution model.