YouTube star Casey Neistat is leaving CNN, and the news network is shutting down Beme, the social video venture it acquired from Neistat in late 2016. “This is the end of a chapter for me, and I’m a little sad about it,” Neistat said in a video posted on his YouTube channel Thursday morning that has since been removed.
Neistat had launched Beme together with co-founder Matt Hackett in the summer of 2015 as a social video sharing app that allowed users to upload short clips, similar to Vine. Beme raised a total of $2 million, with investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Vayner/RSE.
CNN acquired the app in part to tap into Neistat’s audience of millions of YouTube followers, and initially had big plans for turning it into a digital news operation for younger viewers. Neistat even pitched it as an answer to BuzzFeed and Vice News in an appearance at the Cannes Lions advertising and media festival last year.
The plan at the time was to launch an app with daily news shows, while also inviting viewers to contribute their own opinions with 15-second clips. CNN president Jeff Zucker praised Neistat at the time as a way to reach an audience significantly younger than the typical viewer of his network.
“Casey is somebody I knew [about] from my children,” Zucker said. “He does great work, he has a big following, and he’s able to reach an audience CNN never could.”
Now, Neistat is going to talk to these audiences elsewhere, if at all. On Thursday, he said that he didn’t know what the future would hold for him. Beme’s team and tech are going to be absorbed by CNN Digital, and some members of the 22-people team are likely going to be laid off.
“Beme has been my life for the last 3-plus years,” Neistat said . “This is the end of the road for me.”