Helios & Matheson Has Become VERY Expensive to Short

5/3/2018 Update:  Schwab is now paying retail 35% for Hard to Borrow on HMNY.   That makes shorting even worse than article below.  

 

The owner of MoviePass, (HMNY) has become extremely expensive to short.  (HMNY) has been put on the hard to borrow list at Charles Schwab. Meaning, there is a low supply of shares available to short for HMNY stock, so Schwab is making a market for more shares by paying retail investors a very high-interest rate to borrow their long shares.

I have personally confirmed with Charles Schwab that they are paying an incredible 29% interest to long shareholders of HMNY.  More incredible, this is ONLY ½ the interest Schwab charges to institutions for the shares. Schwab splits the interest charged to institutions with the retail investor 50/50.  This means that some large hedge funds are paying an incredible 58% interest to short HMNY. (Note: this rate can change daily, the rep at Schwab was very careful to point out the rate can go up and down quickly based on Schwab’s demand for the shares)

Schwab offers this program to retail investors via their Securities Lending Fully Paid Program. This is a little-known program that only some big brokerages offer to retail investors. Ameritrade, for example, does not offer this program at all.  The program offers the opportunity for retail investors to loan out their long shares for shorts to sell. Essentially the long shareholder is paid interest for the period of time the brokerage borrows the long shares for big hedge funds who want to sell the stock short.   

It is a little tricky to wrap your brain around how risky this is for hedge funds.  I am going to try and explain the math here, to give you an idea why a hedge fund would make such an expensive and risky bet.  I will also show you how this can backfire badly for shorts, potentially causing a short squeeze.  

First, let’s look at how expensive it is for Short Sellers of HMNY to pay the brokerage fees when the Hard to Borrow rate is at 58%.   For this calculation, I used Ally Financial’s calculation

Current Stock Price 2.28
Number of shares short 100,000
Hard to Borrow Rate 58%
Current Industry convention 1.02
Market Price * Current Stock Price 2.3256
(Per share collateral amount) x (share quantity) $300,000.00
(trade value) x (annual hard-to-borrow rate) $174,000.00
(annual hard-to-borrow fee) / (360 days) = Daily hard-to-borrow fee $483.33

What this calculation means is that a hedge fund that wants to short HMNY 100,000 shares has to pay $174,000 a year to fund that short at the current broker fee for this “Hard to Borrow” stock.  Or put another way, they must pay a daily fee of $483.

Put this in perspective.  If HMNY were to essentially stay flat to today’s trading price of $2.28 for one year, and the short position was not covered, the hedge fund would lose $174,000.   By comparison, a long holder of HMNY would have zero loss, they would still own $228,000 shares of HMNY, and if they were with Schwab, they could have collected 29% interest on those shares amounting to a $66,120 profit.

Of course, if the stock of HMNY starts to rise, the potential loss for a short seller could theoretically rise to infinity,  There is no cap on the potential loss amount for shorts.

A scary proposition for shorts, even a small rise in HMNY could have devastating losses.  Consider if HMNY rose just .50 in share price to $2.78. That small jump in stock price would make that 100,000 short buy immediately $50,000 under water.  The math on that is simple enough. 100,000 shares * $2.28 = $228,000 for shares sold short. 100,000 shares * $2.78 = $278,000 to Cover. The difference to cover the shares is owed =$50,000.   This is already a significant loss. But the loss gets much harder to take when you add in the brokerage fees for the “Hard to Borrow” shares. If the short tried to hold on for the entire year – it would mean the total year’s loss would be $174,000 (for brokerage fees) + $50,000 (Cost to Cover) = $224,000.   In this case, by comparison, the long investor would have 100,000 shares at $2.78 per share. Or a total investment now worth $278,000 on their $228,000 original investment – a $50,000 gain.

 

Now, why might any firm or person take on such a risky short play.  The answer is that they believe the stock will be further pushed down in the short term and they can play the stock for a short-term gain on that downward trend.   Here’s an example of how that can work in favor of short-term short sellers. Take our example again of 100,000 shares. The daily cost of holding those shares short (Daily Hard to Borrow fee in the above table) is $483.33.   Now let’s say that a short makes a short-term bet for 5 days and the stock price goes down -12% or .2736 cents. If a short covered that decline and took their profits – that cover would gain them $27,360. (use same formula from above).   While expensive, the 5 days of “hard to borrow fee” would be 5 (days) * $483.33 (daily hard to borrow rate) = $2416.65 for 5 days. Netting that short 5-day trade a nice profit of $25,213.35. Not bad for 5 days!

 

So you can see, the folks shorting this stock, desperately want the stock price to continue going down.  Now here’s the rub. HMNY has a very small amount of total float of their 53M shares outstanding and has a very small market capitalization of only $120M.  This makes the stock volatile. It is a flea-sized stock, and it trades more shares in a day than many companies 100 times its size. Any piece of news can send the stock swooning or jump depending on the news – good or bad.  If a significant piece of good news comes to light the stock could quickly jump up, it could force short sellers to try and cover their outstanding short positions to minimize their losses. With such few shares available to cover, the shorts could be forced to pay very high prices to get out their positions.   

Here is a list I have of things that could surprise short sellers and cause the stock to jump up.

  • Completion of control of MoviePass, Ending the Proxy Ownership Problem, Changing the Brand Name of the Company, Changing the ticker of the stock symbol to MVP or like name,
  • Announcing a partnership with a major theater chain like Regal or Cinemark
  • Announcing a distribution deal with a major partner like Verizon
  • Announcing a surprise subscriber number increase
  • Announcing updated financial results with better than expected earnings – or smaller loss than expected
  • Having either of the MP Venture films score big at the box office
  • Any rumor of a potential acquisition

On the downside – shorts could be helped by these developments:

  • Worse than expected losses
  • Sub numbers not as strong as management has forecasted

 

I am bullish on MoviePass’ business model over the long-term.  Please see my model and my other posts on www.bobvisse.com to see why I think the recent narrative of MoviePass not being able to sustain itself is a bad bet.   

 

In summary – shorts stand to lose a lot of money even if the stock price for HMNY remains flat.  At this price, it makes way more sense for HMNY investors to remain long. Any positive news event could send this stock into significant short squeeze.

 

Why I see MoviePass utilization rate staying in the 1.2 to 1.5 range

I have now received a LOT of feedback on my MoviePass revenue model published on Seeking Alpha today.  By far the biggest area of feedback has been from people who disagree (sometimes violently and rudely) with the  utilization factor I used in the model.  This is the number of times per month on average MoviePass users will see a movie.  I used 1.4 in my model.  Many people emailed me and said I was crazy, the usage will be way higher the say! Lots of people gave me anecdotal evidence about how they use MoviePass all the time and so all of their friends!    It will be at least 4 a month!  Your model is junk!  2 is the lowest it will ever go!  booo !  Hiss!!    models like Mark Gomes ramp it to over 4.   and shorts have loved that logic!

Why do people care so much?  Investors know, the Utilzation rate has a massive impact on the model and on MoviePass’ fortunes, so I wanted to revisit my assumption here and more fully explore the topic.  As if I am way off, my model will be wrong, and it would not be good for the company or my long position in HMNY.

First, it is worth noting the company has claimed it sees utilization rate settling at 1.2 average over time.  

Many have pointed out that the company had mentioned a number over 2 in SEC reports, I have not been able to find those numbers as of yet. But if somebody has a link to send me, please do!  

In the most extensive interview done yet on the MoviePass business model Mitch Lowe and recode’s Peter Kafka –  Mitch explained the usage numbers this way.

Here’s the trick: 89 percent of American moviegoers only go to four or five movies a year. When they join MoviePass, they double their consumption and go to about 10 a year. That’s a little bit less than one a month. They balance out the 11 percent of the population that go 18 times before joining MoviePass and then after go three times a month. It works out. Over time, it actually works out to be about one movie per month per subscriber. Now, some people do go to 10, 15. We even have one guy who on this 40th birthday challenged himself to go to 40 movies in 40 days. We do have people with a fair amount of time on their hands.”

So if we use these numbers form the CEO! – It would put the Utilization factor at 1!

As you all know, I am believer and a bull on MoviePass.  But even I have a hard time accepting a usage factor of 1.  It just seems too low to me. That is a gut feeling.

Another interesting source for utilization rate was posted here on reddit.

This model does an extrapolation of total movie tickets sold and the % of tickets sold by MoviePass over a 4 month period and does a calculation from there to come up with an average number of tickets per subscriber.  This model lands at around 1.3 to 1.5 Movies per month. The author comes up with a final analysis stating.

“With a TLDR: Moviepass bought at most 14,499,069 tickets from movies released between Novemember 1st – March 24th which is an average of 1.53 movies per subscriber.

A better estimate using 6% of the box office for the missing data is 12,384,621 tickets sold for an average of 1.3 tickets/month per subscriber. Most likely the average subscriber goes to 1.3-1.53 movies per month”

In my model I factored in that MoviePass has capped users with the most recent promo with iHeartRadio at 4 movies a month.  That keeps the heavy users from skewing (& screwing) up the average. MoviePass has also made some significant moves to reduce fraud and started to get more aggressive enforcing its terms of service.  In some cases discontinuing Heavy Users subscriptions.

So the hard facts we have from the Company CEO, and from other detailed models do show that my estimated 1.4 Utilization Rate is actually pretty reasonable after all.  It is higher than what the Company publicly states, and within the high range of the most detailed model I could find.

Then there is a more subjective view I think is important to consider.  

Most people simply do not have the time to see more than 16 to 17 movies a year. Which is what a 1.4 utilization rate would bring.  In reality most don’t have the time to see more than 1 movie a month.

Let’s look at some data to backup that claim.   

The Average feature film is around 90 Minutes long.  That does not include previews, ads etc. that accompany most viewings, that easily ads 15 minutes to the experience.  If you add in the commute time to the theater, I estimate 15 minutes each way for 30 minutes total commuting time you get to a total time commitment of at least 2 hours, likely more, but I will use that number to be conservative.

A 1.4 Utilization Factor or about 16 movies a year x 2 Hours equals 32 hours a year committed to movie going.  Almost an entire work week spent at the movies? I just don’t think most people have that kind of time to spare.   

We have all read the research and seen the many articles on how busy Americans are.  The work week continues to get longer, people don’t take their allotted vacation days, we live in what is now called the “busy culture”.  Not to mention there is incredible competition for our free time and lots of attractive media options when you want that media escape.   

Going to the movies typically means finding somebody else to go with you – although more people are starting to go it alone with MP.  It also means finding a show and a time that works for you, it could mean getting a babysitter, and it may mean you have to leave your warm dry house and go through inclement weather just to see a show.  There are a LOT of good reasons that people think they will go do something, and finally reality sets in and they make other plans, admit it, it happens to you all the time!

Finally, If you are reading this article – know that you are NOT normal!  You likely care about movies more than most people. That is likely why you found out about MoviePass in the first place.  You are also a subset of the population who actually cares about individual stocks. You live in a small cohort world, you are not the “average” consumer.  So if your gut – subjectively is telling you people will see a lot more than 16 movies a year. You are probably wrong, and you just don’t know it. The data doesn’t back it, nor does a longer examination of the subjective thinking on the topic.  

So with that – thank you again to all who sent feedback – some of it angry 🙂 on how stupid my model is because my Utilization rate is a fantasy!   Maybe that fantasy is actually your own….

 

Steve Jobs Predicted A MoviePass Like Service One Year Before Passing – He Saw The MoviePass Business Model

One year before Steve Jobs passed he predicted a service like HMNY’s MoviePass would change how studios market their films. Now 8+ years after the marketing genius’s death, MoviePass stands.

Now 8+ years after the marketing genius’s death, Moviepass stands to deliver on Job’s prediction that technology would allow studios to efficiently reach audiences reducing their spiraling marketing costs.

At only 10% share of Studio Marketing budgets, Moviepass could stand to reap $230M a year in revenue from Studios. 10% is a conservative estimate given the efficiency of Moviepass.

Way back in 2010 Steve Jobs predicted at an industry conference a change from technology would emerge that would fundamentally change the way movie studios go to market and connect with their customers. His prediction was early, but is now being delivered via MoviePass.

Jobs stated “What the studios need to do is start embracing the front end of the business,” he said, “to start knowing who their customers are, and to start building mechanisms to communicate with them, and tell them when their new product is coming out.” Within two years, the Apple CEO predicted, selling films “is going to get a lot more interesting, more precise, cheaper, efficient.”

Jobs’ vision is now being precisely played out by Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass. MoviePass is the ONLY service that can deliver the exact value Jobs prescribed.

MoviePass know’s their customer, in a way studios have never known who their customers were before. MoviePass can deliver a precise, efficient, and cheaper mechanism to get butts into movie seats, previously unavailable to studio marketing chiefs. And yes, they can do it in a way that is more interesting and exciting to the coveted millennial audiences studios are desperate to connect with. Only MoviePass can tell studios exactly who is going to their movies, and reconnect them with sequels, sell them add on products and introduce them to similar films. And only MoviePass has the power to do this on their mobile app platform, knowing the precise history of the users previously viewed movies, locations and times.

Mitch Lowe stated in his interview with Peter Kafka of ReCode

“..we have all these different ways that we make your life better as a customer. We know how to market films to you. You know, the studios are incredibly inefficient the way they market small films. Over the last three weeks, we bought one in every 19 movie tickets in the country, but when we promote a film, we’re buying one in 10, so we’re lifting. These are for subjective $50 million box office films. The studios are paying us to be a more efficient marketer of films.”

MoviePass is a dream come true to Marketing executives who knowingly waste billions every year on big TV advertising binges trying to ensure that big budget films don’t go bust at the theater. An increasingly big risk in the crowded movie marketplace, that has been seeing reduced attendance. MoviePass stands to be the single best way to ensure that a movie does not fizzle out in the all important opening week.

According to Variety Magazine,

Marketers know the power of digital media, but also are becoming more cognizant of its limits. Several executives say they are not convinced, for example, that trailers posted online aren’t just as readily avoided by consumers as are TV ads skipped in the age of the DVR.

“You only know for sure that the consumer saw the first second or two of your trailer. After that, it’s unclear,” suggests a marketing consultant. “And was the volume even turned on? We don’t know. We need better verification of who is really watching and hearing what.

MoviePass – is similar to – but better- than Google keywords for movie studios.  MoviePass takes all the guesswork out of connecting directly with prospective theater goers by utilizing their deeply personal and engaging mobile platform. Simply put, there is no surer way for studios to drive customers to movies than using MoviePass as marketing partner.  If and when MoviePass hits their 5 Million subscriber goal they have predicted to hit by the end of this year, that power of connecting to large scale theater audiences only continues to grow.

It is important to note, that MoviePass has already been extremely successful extending out the all important opening week for many movies as of late.  CEO Mitch Lowe shares details in his interview with ReCode here.

In that same interview Lowe answers Kafka’s question of-

“What’s an example of a movie that the studios have paid you to promote?”

“I could list a bunch of them. “Maze Runner” is one over the last couple of weeks. “Lady Bird,” “I, Tonya,” almost every film …”

So it seems that MoviePass is already enjoying success promoting films for studios.  We don’t yet know how much those deals are earning MoviePass, and it has been reported in SEC filings that many of the deals are performance based.  Meaning that MoviePass gets paid and bonused on the number of actual tickets they help to sell.   We will find out soon how material this is to MoviePass earnings, but because MoviePass is still private, (HMNY) has no right or even any good reason to share these details.  I think we all may end up surprised by how big this advertising business can be.

MovieFone acquisition ups the anti on MoviePass advertising business potential.

When HMNY bought MovieFone – they upped the anti for their advertiser value proposition BIG TIME.  The addition of MovieFone brings MoviePass 6-8 Million additional monthly UU’s to market films to.  Taking the total addressable market for MoviePass advertisers to someplace near or above 10 Million people.  Additionally, the deal cut with Verizon to by MovieFone allowed for MoviePass to continue working with AOL’s Oath division for ad sales.  This is a big win for MoviePass because Oath has the largest display advertising salesforce in the business.  Oath sells ads for all AOL properties, Yahoo, and Microsoft.   This is a big benefit to a small company like MoviePass who would not be able to afford to build their own large salesforce early on.  Having worked in this space, I can tell you that getting a large company like Oath to agree to sell inventory for a small site is very hard to obtain.  When I was at Microsoft and we had a large ad salesforce, we were constantly asked by smaller partners to sell their inventory for them, but we would not do it because it created sales and channel conflicts for our own inventory.   This may sound like small details, but I can assure you this stuff is critical for building a large ad business.

It is estimated that as much 1/3 of revenue for a movie is achieved in the first week of a movie’s release, and further, it often can determine if an expensive film makes or loses money for the studio. This fact, along with tight windows that can’t be moved for movie release dates is what forces movie studio executives to spend $100’s of millions of dollars to “ensure success” of big budget films.

A quick look at the potential revenue MoviePass could score from this powerful marketing asset reveals a potential big windfall for HMNY the majority owner of MoviePass. It is easy to believe that when MoviePass hits its estimated 5 Million subscribers by the end of the year, they could nab a 10% share of total marketing spend, estimated at $2.36B. Or $230 Million in revenue conservatively estimated. MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe has previously estimated a potential of $6 Per Subscriber Per Month. Simple math of 5M Subscribers X $6 = $30 Million a month, or a yearly revenue run rate of $360 Million. This revenue source could easily be delivered at a Gross Margin in the 90% plus range.

(Source Variety.com)

Put simply, within 20 months, MoviePass + MovieFone has the potential to deliver a quarter billion dollars in run rate revenue from studio marketing budgets at incredible gross margins.

Remember, that Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass has stated that the subscription business would run at breakeven at approximately 5 Million Subscribers.

My model shows that is indeed possible for MoviePass to breakeven or profit by next calendar year.

 

A Detailed Revenue Model On How The MoviePass Business Can Succeed

As a former GM of Product Management for Microsoft I spent countless hours creating and reviewing complicated revenue models for large scale businesses.  Revenue models bring together all of the various revenue opportunities a unit/company expects to see.  The model makes assumptions for every aspect of the business – pricing, sell through, inventory, growth rates, competition, conversion etc etc.   They are complicated beasts – so complicated in fact a model with just slightly different assumptions can create radially different results and viewpoints of a business’s feasibility .

At Microsoft revenue models typically have multiple reviews, every assumption is talked about, tested wherever possible, debated by the best and brightest at the company, and finally submitted to executive management. The models are then used for funding specific initiatives for things like headcount, marketing budgets and other costs related to executing against a business plan.  The revenue models are eventually used by the company to make estimates for Wall St. on future revenues and earnings.

I spent more than 20 years in the sausage factory where these models are created debated and reported.   I can tell you with certainty, these models consistently have less than 50% accuracy.  All models have politics, specific agendas and bias baked into them.  The truth in models is almost always somewhere in the middle of the most optimistic assumptions and the most negative assumptions.  It is important to know when reading any model, what is the agenda of the person who created that model?   Is he/she looking to secure funding?  Is the person looking to kill the business because they would prefer some other initiative to succeed?   What does a person have to gain or lose if their viewpoint of the model is accepted as the “truth”.    I have witnessed many a Machiavellian business leaders purposely input wildly implausible assumptions into models to serve their own purposes and to advance their own personal fortunes.  It happens all the time.

I felt like it was important for me to introduce a new revenue model for HMNY investors to consider as the only detailed model currently floating around the web is the one published from Mark Gomes.  Gomes has been a consistent basher of MoviePass stock, he spreads a message of fear uncertainty and doubt about the company.  He has maintained that the company will likely end up a penny stock based on the business model and the need for continued capital needs that will come from dilution at bad terms.   I have reviewed Mark’s model (link below) and I believe it is both flawed, and contains some radical assumptions that would not be accepted by any experienced product manager or finance executive who has actually worked on a product like MoviePass.

In my model for MoviePass  (Link Below) I show how MoviePass can achieve profitability by the end of the year, as predicted by Ted Farnsworth CEO of MoviePass multiple times in the past.   My assumptions are relatively conservative across the board, and they align to the major assumptions that have been shared from Mitch Lowe (CEO MoviePass) and Farnsworth and they are outlined in the notes of the shared spreadsheet.   To create the model it is necessary to pull together public comments from both of the key executives of the company, and to research other various sources.   It is no simple matter, but with some time and thought a reasonable view of the company can be put together.

I invite you to compare Mark Gome’s model with my own.  It may well be that the truth is somewhere in the middle.   I am as my readers know, very bullish on MoviePass, so my view may be too rose colored.   I can almost guarantee that Mark’s view is way too pessimistic.

Mark Gomes MoviePass Model

2 Major Assumptions from Mark’s MoviePass Model of where I disagree include:

  1. Mark has a very radical assumption in his last two months of 2018 where Utilization Rate (# of movie tickets per month per sub)  jumps to 3.7 in November 2018 and  4.1  in December 2018.   Mark does this to account for high movie going season.   That would be acceptable if he dropped the rates lower in other months, but he does not.  That is likely not at all a realistic view of utilization rate and is estimated super high to make the cash burn look way worse.  It also does not consider new moves by the company to limit number of movies view on the new plans.  Mark even admits in his model that he uses a number of movies seen that “makes no sense” but was offered by Mitch and Ted, so he uses it anyway.  Mark has conflated some very important things here.  Mitch and Ted were likely including the “halo” effect that MoviePass has, where people bring friends and family members who don’t have a MoviePass.  At any rate, Mark cherry picks number here to make things look way worse than they likely will be for his November and December estimates.
  2. Mark assumes an $11 dollar Movie Ticket Price.  That is way above the $9 ticket rate reported by industry metrics.

Mark and I are reasonably close on other assumptions.  That makes sense, because utilization rates and ticket price are clearly two of the biggest factors in the models.  I hold my utilization factor constant at 1.4 movies per month – less than the 1.2 factor often used by Mitch.  I don’t factor in big seasonality jumps simply to show a simpler model, and because I believe subscription users are less likely to be as seasonal as normal movie going audience.   This is something I can adjust for later on as I fine tune the model.

Here is a link to the model.   I welcome your feedback, comments and thoughts.   I will be adjusting the model regularly as new information come available.   In summary, my model shows it is very possible for MoviePass to breakeven on a yearly run rate basis by the end of the year.  Meaning they could breakeven in 2019.

Bob Visse’s MoviePass Model

 

MoivePass Patent Contains Broad Claims That Span Well Beyond Theaters

MoviePass owns an incredibly valuable Patent (US Patent # 9135578) with wide ranging claims that span well beyond the theater industry.   In this post I will try to cover some of the key language in the Patent, how it protects MoviePass from potential competitors like Sinemia who MoviePass is currently actively litigating for Patent infringement.

There is a LOT of technical mumbo jumbo in all Patent applications, and Patent Law is extremely complicated.  I am not a Patent Lawyer, I don’t play one on TV either.   I have had quite a bit of experience with Patents – I have invested and led companies who had important Patent claims worth millions of dollars.  I have also served as a key witness in a very large Patent infringement case for Microsoft.  Unfortunately, we were the defendant in that case, we settled, for a LOT of money, even for Microsoft it was a lot of money.  I spend weeks on the case and I saw first-hand how valuable and important a good patent can be.

The most important part of a Patent is what is claimed, and if those claims can be adequately protected.   Again, I am not a lawyer, but have some experience in these matters.  After fully reading through the MoviePass patent it is my opinion the claims are sufficiently specific and broad enough to protect MoviePass from competitors offering a copycat service.  Further the claims issued cover many different potential future products that may or may not be developed or marketed by MoviePass.    Below you can read the full specific claims directly from the Patent.   Just for a  highlight here is one of the more potentially valuable claims made in the patent.

(A ticketing system comprising: a plurality of databases coupled via a network; a plurality of processors coupled to the plurality of databases; a plurality of electronic scanning devices coupled via the network wherein each of the electronic scanning devices is associated with a venue;) 

Now that is a lot of lingo.  But it is VERY important.  This essentially gives MoviePass a claim to connecting a cloud service ticketing system to a credit or debit card.  This is a very broad claim.  Think if Ticketmaster, Stubhub or any other number of ticketing companies wanted to deliver a similar method ticketing and transaction.  They would have to negotiate with MoviePass or risk violating this clear claim.   This alone could be worth many many 10’s millions of dollars over time.

The claims go on to cover a wide variety of features and application uses for the MoviePass invention and transaction system.   Claims include the activation of the subscription from a mobile device, to the activation of the credit/debit card, the location based check in, the clever way that MoviePass clears the transaction with the merchant for a specific predefined amount, and more.   I have read a lot of patents, and helped apply for many.  It is unusual to receive such a wide claim so clearly documented.  I have to believe that MoviePass had some very clever lawyers and made a very significant investment to obtain this patent.

To give you an idea of how potentially valuable a patent can be consider the patent settlement between Google and Yahoo! where Google had violated a search patent that had been obtained by Yahoo! when they had purchased Overture.  Overture was the originator of paid search, and the patent settlement was considered so important and valuable it was actually holding up Google’s ability to IPO back in 2004.  Google settled by giving 2.7 Million Shares to Yahoo – valued at about $300 Million.  It was a stroke of luck for Yahoo!  and that investment quickly skyrocketed above $2 Billion.   Yes, patents are very valuable!

You can also learn a lot about what a company may be planning and thinking by looking at patents.  Here are a few art exhibits from the MoviePass patent that show some feature ideas we have not yet seen in the app.  Some of which would be clearly valuable for marketing purposes.  And others that will help MoviePass create more commerce with the app.

Here you can see how MoviePass could make a simple change to limit consumption by only allowing a user to see a particular movie one time.

Here you see how MoviePass could market a DVD directly from the MP App.

Here you see a clever way for MoviePass to integrate with Facebook, allowing for a more social experience, and spreading the word of MoviePass

 

Here is an additional view of inviting friends to MoviePass.  A powerful marketing tool.

In summary, MoviePass has a very valuable patent, which it is already seeking to defend vs. competitors.  The claims from the patent are surprisingly broad and apply beyond just going to the movies.  This creates a strong moat for the MoviePass business by protecting the MoviePass experience from easy copycat competitors.   Finally, you can see that MoviePass has a lot more cool ideas on the back burner that will improve the service and create new revenue opportunities for the company.

 

 

The full language of the claims from the patent are here:

What is claimed is:

1. A ticketing system comprising: a plurality of databases coupled via a network; a plurality of processors coupled to the plurality of databases; a plurality of electronic scanning devices coupled via the network wherein each of the electronic scanning devices is associated with a venue; and at least one user device coupled to the processors and the databases via the network, wherein the at least one user device comprises at least one of a smart phone, a handheld mobile device with communication capability, and a personal computer; wherein the plurality of processors are configured to, via the network, register a subscriber-user for a subscription in exchange for a subscription fee, wherein the subscription comprises a predetermined number of events in a time period, wherein the subscriber-user is associated with the at least one user device; via the network, from the at least one user device, receive a subscriber-user request to book a ticket for an event; determine that the subscription is current; determine a venue and a time for the event; communicate with the venue to reserve the requested ticket booking; associate a pre-paid credit card with the subscriber-user, wherein the pre-paid credit card is associated with an account; automatically detect, in real time, a location of the at least one user device at the determined venue to determine that the subscriber-user is at the determined venue; immediately fund the account with sufficient funds to pay for the requested ticket only if the location of the at least one user device is detected at the determined venue; determine, a predetermined time after funding the account, whether the sufficient funds remain in the account; detect a physical location of a scanning device via the network when one of the plurality of scanning devices is used to scan the pre-paid credit card; and collect and store data related to the subscriber-user in the databases, wherein the data comprises names of events attended by the subscriber-user, venues of the events attended by the subscriber-user, types of events attended by the subscriber-user, times of day of attendance by the subscriber-user, and frequency of attendance by the subscriber-user, and wherein collecting data comprises automatically receiving the data via the network.

2. A computer-implemented method for targeted selling, comprising: a processor via a network registering a subscriber-user for a subscription in exchange for a subscription fee, wherein the subscription comprises a predetermined number of events in a time period, wherein the subscriber-user is associated with at least one communication device; the processor communicating with a financial institution to set up a subscriber-user account for funding ticket purchases; the processor receiving and storing subscriber-user data comprising a name, an age, a gender, a home address, an email address, a phone number, product preferences, and names of friends in a database coupled to the processor; the processor receiving a request from the at least one communication device of the subscriber-user to book a ticket for an event; the processor determining a time for the event and a venue for the event; the processor communicating via a network with a venue system to reserve a ticket for the event; the processor sending the subscriber-user a ticket token to the at least one communication device, wherein the ticket token is scannable from the at least one communication device at the venue to give the subscriber-user access to the event; the processor automatically detecting, in real time, a location of the at least one communication device at the venue to determine that the subscriber-user is at the venue; the processor immediately funding the subscriber-user account with sufficient funds to pay for the requested ticket only if the location of the at least one communication device is detected at the venue; the processor determining, a predetermined time after funding the subscriber-user account, whether the sufficient funds remain in the subscriber-user account; after the end of the event, the processor detecting whether the ticket token was redeemed, comprising determining via a network whether the subscriber-user account has been debited for a price of the ticket; if the ticket token was redeemed, the processor collecting event data, including a time of the event, a type of the event, a name of the event, and a location of the venue, wherein collecting comprises collecting scanned electronic data from scanning the ticket token; the processor associating the event data with the subscriber-user data; and the processor storing the event data in the database.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein detecting whether the ticket token was redeemed further comprises, if the ticket token was not redeemed, the processor allowing the subscriber-user to request to book another ticket for the same event.

4. The method of claim 2, further wherein detecting whether the ticket token was redeemed further comprises, if the ticket token was redeemed, the processor disallowing the subscriber-user to request to book another ticket for the same event.

5. The method of claim 2, further comprising: the processor sending the subscriber-user an electronic message inviting the subscriber-user to associate via a social networking site to become a networked subscriber-user; the processor providing a networked subscriber-user a facility to invite friends to an event via the social networking site; the processor receiving a list of friends invited to the event by the networked subscriber-user; the processor collecting friend data regarding invited friends of the subscriber-user, comprising which friends accepted invitations, and which friends are also subscriber-users; the processor associating the friend data with the subscriber-user data; the processor storing the friend data in the database.

6. The method of claim 5, further comprising the processor generating data reports from the subscriber-user data, the event data, and the friend data.

7. The method of claim 2, further comprising the processor allowing the subscriber-user to book a predetermined number of events over a predetermined time period for a fixed price.

8. The method of claim 7, further comprising the processor tracking a number of events booked in the time period and disallowing requests to book events over the predetermined number of events over the predetermined time period.

9. The method of claim 2, further comprising, after the event is scheduled to be over, the processor sending an electronic message to the subscriber-user with a request to review the event.

10. The method of claim 2, further comprising, after the event is scheduled to be over, the processor sending an electronic message to the subscriber-user with at least one offer to purchase items related to the event.