Why Did HMNY PR Go Totally Dark?

The incompetency continues over at HMNY.   A company that loved to pump PR at every turn has now apparently gone PR dark.   Nobody seems to know why they have decided to stop pumping PR – but it has been a noticeable silence.

Just this week the company added new features, and apparently is somehow involved in a new movie coming out next week with their Moviepass Films unit.  Neither of these developments were announced by the company in any way.

The Movie – Monsters and Men was heavily advertised on NFL Thursday Night game where the Browns finally won a game!   Moviepass Films actually got a couple seconds with their logo on the screen.   The website for the film also features a Moviepass Films logo.   Since there was no announcement about the deal, nobody has any verified information on the deal terms.  

This was the splash screen on the game here….

Moviepass also added the “Bring a Friend” feature to their app allowing Moviepass subscribers to buy tickets for friends who are going and getting seating together, apparently a feature that customers have been asking for.   Why wouldn’t Moviepass announce this is some way?  Who knows?  Probably incompetence explains it the best.   

None of this is to say I am excited about the stock or the company.   As long as Terrible Ted is at the helm, this stock will border on the edge death.

The only other news from the company was a Facebook post about Moviepass sending 2 “members” to a behind the scenes experience of the Bruce Willis – Gone film that Moviepass is producing.   The comments on that were resoundingly negative.   Ranging from the standard “I hate Ted Farnsworth” to “why don’t you losers focus on fixing your broken service and not wasting money making movies”.

 

The HMNY Bull is Dead

Ted that little bastard did it again. A 1:500 share Reverse Split.

It’s impossible to say anything other than Farnsworth is a total scam artist.

I am officially done with HMNY and with Ted Farnsworth.

The ONLY hope – and there is pretty much zero hope left now – is that Ted gets sacked- or that Moviepass posts some kind of big surprise.

The chances of either happening are probably less than being struck by lightning.

I now recommend staying away from the stock.

It’s time for me to accept that this stock is a scam. And I don’t want to risk having others get hurt by this scam.

My only advice here is to stay away – even from the lotto ticket idea. You are likely just throwing away your money.

It is with deep sadness and regret that I have come to this conclusion. I was such a deep believer in this company, the idea, and the potential to change an industry for the good.

It’s not just losing money that hurts here. It is the fact that I decided to pick this stock of all stocks to get behind and to write about.

It’s crazy for me to even think about it. I am mostly – 95% plus – an index ETF investor. I don’t like penny stocks and never intended to be involved with one at all. That I picked this stock with a lying thieving CEO, an idiotic management team, and a cavalier toxic view against shareholders absolutely sickens me. It is toxic – so I am done.

I believe a better and more honest management team possibly could have pulled this off. But for HMNY it was not to be.

In full disclosure – I am going to hold the shares I have for the 5 years I committed to earlier. I have about 4 more years to go. With this next RS it will be a minuscule number anyway. And I suppose if they go BK before that I can take the tax loss when it happens.

I may poke my head up and write something if there is a really big new development on the positive side. Otherwise this is my last post on HMNY.

So with that – my final apology for those who caught HMNY fever from me or with me. It was fun dreaming, and an interesting case study. Ultimately it was a case study of how management can and will lie to stockholders for their own personal gain.

3 Counterpoints to Silly Motley Fool Story on Moviepass

I take it as a bullish sign that Motley fool has the one big nasty hit piece out this weekend on HMNY.  The article “3 Reasons AMC Is Beating MoviePass at Its Own Game”     is so bad that I felt like a counterpoint to each of their reasons would make sense.

Motley Fool has helped more people lose money than just about any site out there, they are pumpers, dumpers and make horrible calls on a regular basis.  I called it quits with Motley Fool after they made multiple very bullish calls on 3D Printing Stocks.  I was a sucker and believed the hype on that one.  Not that 3D printing isn’t amazing and holds a bright future.  They were just bad picks and bad timing for Fool readers.

The fools and the Fool pumped these dogs like crazy, the hyped never delivered.   I have seen the Fool website be wrong so often, I can hardly recall a time where they have been consistently right.

Now, of course, I have to acknowledge I have been wrong on HMNY to date.  I get it!  My call on Moviepass sucked even worse than Fool’s call on 3D printing!  But I must say, it is a bit different here.  These were established companies with years of revenue and profit behind them.   While by no means were they “safe” investments – you don’t expect to see the bottom fall out of companies of this size, with such huge projected growth.

OK – on to the matter at hand.   Motley Fool contends 3 Reasons AMC is “winning” of Moviepass.   Let’s take a look at each claim.

Claim #1- AMC can do Marketing in their own theaters.   That is true, AMC owns the theater, and they can promote whatever they like on their screens.  Now, does anybody think for a second that Moviepass has a hard time getting publicity?   No- me neither.  Unfortunately, as of late, most of that PR has been negative.   I fully expect that when Moviepass turns the corner, the PR will change for the positive, and will do so with a massive comeback kid story.  The amount of free marketing that Moviepass has received as a startup has been nothing less than mind-blowing.  There are still plenty of people who loath AMC for being hyper negative and aggressive against Moviepass.   If Moviepass does make a comeback I expect the free PR to continue.   If they continue to grow larger than AMC – expect the press to start covering Moviepass as the leader and innovator in the space.

Claim #2 – MoviePass has devalued itself this summer.   Hard to argue that Moviepass didn’t have to change their plans to kill the hogs and abusers.   And the summer was obviously a rough ride. But does that really mean AMC is winning?  I agree that heavy users who have a viable AMC option can see more movies for less on the AMC plan.  As many have argued, AMC actually did a great service to Moviepass by sucking away a big chunk of the most costly Moviepass users.  It was like a gift to Moviepass.  They could not get rid of these people fast enough.   Remember – AMC has something like 23% market share – the vast majority of the moviegoing public does not have a good or viable AMC theater option available to them.  Customers like choice, and having the option to choose whatever theater they want to go to remains a valuable feature for most moviegoers.

The most important point here is that most people don’t see more than 3 movies a month.  They simply don’t have the time or the desire to go to the movies that often.   So why pay twice as much to lock yourself into AMC if you really don’t see yourself going all that often as a casual moviegoer.  And that is the key, Moviepass wants to get the casual moviegoer, they guy or gal who normally sees around 4 movies a year, and try to get them to go more like 8 times a year.  This is where the business model works the best.   And it works best here for a few reasons.   First, because it keeps utilization rates lower for the Moviepass subscriber base – which helps keep COGS down.   Second, this group of casual moviegoers is attractive to Hollywood for marketing purposes.  Heavy moviegoers are great for Hollywood, and Hollywood loves them.  But for marketing purposes, when you are trying to move the needle on a film, getting the next group down from heavy users is really important.  It is sort of like going after swing voters in an election.  You spend your money on those who are undecided, who might not bother getting off the couch and going to the theater.  The guys that go all the time, they will likely show up anyway, the casual user, they need a little more prodding to get them to turn up to the theater.   This makes that casual group a sweet spot for Hollywood to deals with Moviepass to push that group to go see a particular film.   If Moviepass can keep their numbers in the millions, and use their Moviefone audience to push audiences to certain shows, it will be an advantage over AMC.

Claim #3 – Sustainability “The fatal flaw with MoviePass’s original model is that it doesn’t have full control of its input costs. It has to pay retail for the movie tickets it’s buying for its members, and that easily adds up to more than $9.95 a month.”  This reasoning has been claimed over and over again by the bears and bashers.   When the service was unlimited and had a lot of really heavy users, the argument held a lot of merit.   Now the argument is much weaker.   It is true that Moviepass has been slow to get to deals with theaters – they have admitted as much.  But it is a lot less clear that having physical assets is a big strategic advantage in today’s marketplace.   The argument that “controlling all the operations” is a big winning strategic position seems like an idea from yesteryear.   You don’t see Uber very concerned about not owning the Yellow Taxi companies.  You don’t see AirBnB very concerned about not owning hotels, resorts, or vacation homes.  Even lowly Amazon seems fine not holding all the inventory for items they sell online.  The argument that Moviepass can’t be successful without owning the theaters seems suspect, if not downright ridiculous.

Final thought.  With the recent changes, Moviepass is not playing a very classic disruptor role.   Moviepass is now IS NOT for the high-end heavy user, and that is a GREAT thing.  It follows the disruptive innovation model much closer with the new plan.  

The offer from Moviepass is now a classic move of coming in at the very low end.  They are offering a lesser service for a low price, that only appeals to the lower end of the market.  Naturally, this market and these customers are less appealing to established players like AMC.  AMC is looking to maximize profit and to do that they look to create more margins by offering fancier options to their most loyal customers.  In fact, it actually makes perfect logical sense for AMC to ignore Moviepass as they move into the low end of the market where there is little profit to be had.  From AMC’s perspective, the logical move is to move higher upmarket and leave the low-end low-profit space to new entrants.   This is classic disruptive innovation.    None of this is to imply that AMC is purposely doing something wrong or stupid.  AMC is trying to save and optimize their profits – that is what management is SUPPOSED TO DO!   It will feel to AMC and some others that AMC is actually winning.  But what they are missing is that the incumbent just allowed a new entrant to get a toehold in their marketplace.

What naturally happens after a new entrant moves into the low end of a market is they continually innovate and find new ways to move upmarket and take increasingly large pieces of the market.  At the same time, the incumbent keeps trying to optimize more and more upmarket in an ever increasing race to find fatter margins in the highest end of the market.   Eventually, time runs out for the incumbent and they are overtaking by the new entrant.   This pattern repeats time and time again across multiple markets.    Steel, Automobiles, TV’s, Computer Chips, – even Netflix vs. Blockbuster and then HBO, –and many more industries have experienced this exact phenomenon.  There is really no reason to believe that moviegoing is immune from this well know theory.

The Value of Moviepass – Something to Ponder

Moviepass even with all of its hassles continues to be a great deal. That much is obvious when considering that for $9.95 a subscriber can save money by going to the theater just one time, and if they use the subscription to the max, they can get somewhere around $30 to $50 in value depending on when and where the pass is used.

I thought it might be fun to compare Moviepass to other ways consumers might blow their cash to entertain themselves. So here’s a short list of of entertainment options compared to the value of Moviepass…

We could go bowling… as Gaffigan says. But bowling these days is generally around $20 or more per bowler. For that you could buy 2 months of Moviepass and go out to the movies up to 6 times.

If bowling is not your thing – how about golf? Apparently the average green fee is around $34 for a public course. But you have to have clubs and the fancy pants and shoes to really get out there. For that you get 3 months of MP or 9 Movies. And you would have some money leftover to buy a popcorn and a drink!

Golf a little slow? How about a day skiing? According to “Snow Online” the average cost of a lift ticket in the US is now up to $94. And if you think movie concessions are expensive, try ski lodge concessions! And don’t forget the 2 hour drive, the expensive equipment rental or purchase. It’s enough to make you want to just go see a movie! And for that price, you could see at least 27 movies or have 9 months worth of Moviepass! With plenty left over to take a friend or two or three!

Maybe you prefer to do something less active? How about a concert? Well we all know that is going to set you back some real money. For good seats at a good show we are talking about $120. Or a full year of Moviepass, or 36 movies! Now that’s a lot of entertainment hours by comparison:-)

Well, how about a Broadway show! Turns out that is going to hit your wallet hard as well. According to statisa that will be $127 big ones!

Do you like Speed? How about a day at the races? NASCAR perhaps? Average ticket there $96.14. Plus parking, plus a LOT of hassle getting in and out. Let’s just call that about a year of Moviepass again. And that is being kind on the hassle charges.

How about an NFL game? Forget about it! No matter where your favorite team plays – it’s more than a full year of Moviepass!

We can talk about other entertainment options that are cheaper than Moviepass. Going on a walk is free! Sex can and should be free! You can share a Netflix account for less. Or you can buy a digital TV antenna off Amazon for about $30 bucks and get your locals for free!

Let’s face it, the cost of Moviepass is super low, and it is a fantastic value compared to just about any other entertainment option.

So as we sit and ponder if Moviepass subscriber numbers will flame out or continue to grow under the new 3 movies a month value proposition. It’s worth considering, do consumers have a lot of better options for the money?

Even the Mormons are Bashing Moviepass!

I live in an area where there are a lot of Mormons, they are generally pretty nice people.  They tend to sort of keep to themselves.   As neighbors, I have found they won’t really talk to you very much.  Unless of course, they are coming around on one of their mission walks, in that case, they come right up to your door, they start asking all kinds of pesky personal questions about God and religion, and they become a little bit annoying.   Otherwise, they make pretty good neighbors, they keep their lawns up, they don’t play a lot of loud music or have loud parties 🙂  Their kids tend to be well behaved, and they don’t steal any of your shit.

So it was with some surprise when I found the Moviepass bash article of the day to be from non-other than Mormonville USA – the BYU owned and operated “The Daily Universe”!     I thought to myself “God dangit now those carrot snappers are going after my Moviepass!  And with this headline.  “MoviePass struggles as industry evolves”  That is about as cold-blooded as nice Mormon folk can get!

Then I thought to myself – they named their paper “The Daily Universe”  Really – Universe?   Seems a little over the top.   But hey – it’s their little cult and they have freedom of speech to say what they want!  This is ‘Merica damn it!

The piece whines like a bishop excommunicated going through all the normal stuff,  the changes, the app hiccups, the troubled stock – etc.

The author takes a quote from a BYU professor making elegant statements like “I think the idea of subscription was novel and innovative,” BYU professor of marketing and entrepreneurship Gary Rhoads said. “I think MoviePass is going to go under most likely, but now other companies are going to learn from their mistakes and be profitable.”

Dang – I thought to myself.  Who is this guy Gary Rhoads? – he must be on top of his game here with Moviepass.  So I did a little Googling on the guy, and one thing I found out, Gary is a momo who knows how to jam!   Check Gary out as he rips a mean beat to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”

Now that is a Mormon marketing genius who knows how to light it UP!!

Hey – I am sure Doc Gary is a super smart guy, and he has a nice resume to prove it!   The only thing Gary doesn’t have on his rap sheet is any real-world companies he has created, managed or even worked at.  The old axiom of — Those that can’t do – teach – somehow seems fitting here.  Or is it, those who can’t do- consult…   Wait Gary does both.  2 strikes – he’s out 🙂

OK – then there is this doozy of a quote in the piece.

“When a company stock price drops and stays below $1 for 30 consecutive business days, it’s at risk of being delisted,” said Paul Smart, president of private investment company Smart Capital, Inc.

“In this case, NASDAQ will probably notify HMNY, which is the majority stockholder of MoviePass, and give them 180 days to get their stock price back above $1. MoviePass is going to have to act fast.”

Yeh – we get that, and we also know that this is almost 100% bullshit.  The process for delisting is massively long, and there is almost no risk of any delisting happening anytime soon.   Que the RS rumors again here!!

I thought it would be fun to find out more about Paul Smart from Smart Capital Inc.  But that was not possible with the Google machine.  According to Google, there is no Paul Smart from Smart Capital out there.  Maybe it is just a dude from the Ward that the writer knows.   Who knows, maybe it was a friend of a sister-wife or something.   I kid – I know the Mormons don’t have multiple wives anymore.

And that leaves me with my joke of the day.

Q: How do you keep a Mormon from drinking all your beer?

A: Invite another Mormon!