RIP MoviePass: 2011-2019...

Monday, September 16, 2019 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

“We are gathered here today for a newsletter covering MoviePass shutting down"

Last Week’s Market Moves
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10-Yr US Treasury

Hey Snackers,

Just found out a smart closet from Samsung will clean/dry/straighten your clothes. Now please work on the pricing, @Samsung.

Markets inched up close to a fresh record high — then a weekend-long hangover happened. General Motors now faces its 1st labor strike in a decade and then drones hit Saudi oil fields. Happy Monday.

1. 2011 - 2019: MoviePass shuts down after disrupting the movie industry

It lived life 2 thumbs up... Unlimited movie tickets for $10/month. MoviePass was truly Netflix, but in-theater. It sounded too good to be true... and it was. Its parent company, Helios and Matheson, officially shut down the all-you-can-eat movie buffet subscription on Saturday after an epic run. Helios shares hit $5,100 at peak MoviePass insanity. Today they're $0.0018.

Let's look back on a short life well-watched...

  • Act I - Irrelevance: Founded in 2011, MoviePass offered a $40/month subscription that let you into any theater to watch any movie. Worth it only for the very lonely and movie-crazy.
  • Act II - The new guy in town: Mitch Lowe was hired as CEO. There were only 20K customers, so he cut the price by 75%.
  • Act III - Peak insanity: At $10/month, the breakeven price for MoviePass was 1 movie per month, so people signed up. 3M people binged 5% of all movies watched in late 2018.
  • Act IV - The reckoning: Theaters still charged full price for each ticket, forcing MoviePass to pay the difference — and lose $21M/month ("Amazon lost money for 20 years" — the CEO). So it had to raise prices/add a bunch of restrictions.
  • Act V - This Saturday: It's over. The parent company doesn't know when or if it will come back.
  • Post-credit scene: Globo-theater-chain AMC now offers something like MoviePass. MoviePass "pulled a Napster": it changed the industry even though it didn't survive.

While you were shuffling your fantasy roster... nearly half of Saudi Arabia's oil-pumping capacity was knocked out Sunday by drone attacks — that means nearly 5M barrels/day of oil won't hit markets. It caused oil prices to jump a shocking 12%, and President Trump said he'll tap America's strategic oil reserves "if needed." US officials claim Iran is behind the strike, but rebels in Yemen publicly took credit.

"Siri, what just happened?"... On Tuesday, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 11: Fancy colors (lotta pastels), 3 hump-creating cameras (one is ultra-wide), and a $1K+ price tag for the pro. But the highlight was Apple TV+: The streaming service featuring Apple's own shows (welcome, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon) for just $4.99/month (or free for a year if you buy an Apple device). Your move, Netflix.

Mom jeans have more fun... Turns out J.Crew just filed the paperwork to officially spin off Madewell into a separate company with its own IPO. While J.Crew's sales have slipped, Madewell now makes up the majority of the company's profits. Meanwhile J.Crew's rival Gap is doing the same thing with its jean-wearing dependent, Old Navy — and just announced 800 new Old Navy stores are coming.


Worst major tech IPO of 2019... It's official. SmileDirectClub dropped 28% on its 1st day of trading (we wanted ticker symbol "SMYL" — they went with "SDC"). The ortho-disruptor prescribes clear braces only without a doc meeting you in person, keeping it half the price and length of old school braces — but investors aren't into the look of its losses, which doubled from last year.

Your chased-naked-by-zombies nightmare?... This is Uber and Lyft's equivalent. California's legislature voted that starting Jan. 1, gig workers like Uber drivers would have to be treated as employees, not independent contractors. Uber flat-out said it won't comply, probably because that would disrupt its own business and cause driver costs to rise 20%. Then you'd probably have to pay more for that 5-star Toyota Camry commute.

Do less, Wendy... The breakfast wars are raging and now Wendy's wants to add the most-important-meal to over 5K locations by the end of this year (yes, there's a Baconator and a breakfast burrito option). Here's why the stock fell 11% on the news: It'll actually cost the chain $20M to hire 20K new workers to make the morning shift happen — and Wendy's tried breakfast before ('85, '06, '10). It failed every time.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Work: The "5-minute email rule" will transform how you work (we're into it)
  • Life: You're surrounded by logos every day — this study of 597 of them shows what works
  • Money: What Ex-Dividend Date is and why you should pay attention to it
  • Venture: The best Venture Capital job interview guide we've seen
  • Crypto: Inside China's new state-backed cryptocurrency that 7 institutions get to test out
Snacks Daily Podcast
  • Pepsi & Venmo just launched something called "PepCoin"
  • Walmart supercharges its $98/year-unlimited-free-delivery Grocery Club to half the country
  • And Voyage is making old folks the first adopters of self-driving tech
This Week
  • Monday: The 'Empire State Manufacturing Index' gives an industrial look at what's up in New York.
  • Tuesday: Earnings from FedEx, Adobe.
  • Wednesday: Fed Chairman Jay Powell expected to cut interest rates again. Earnings from General Mills, Olive Garden-owner Darden Restaurants.
  • Thursday: Big day for the housing market — Existing Home Sales and Homebuilder Sentiment reports.
  • Friday: Earnings from Helios and Matheson Analytics — yes, the company that owns (and just shut down) MoviePass.

Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Helios and Matheson


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