It is pretty evident that many laws are constructed (e.g. CFAA) wherein there's one rule for individuals and a completely different rule for executives/companies.
I understand that the FTC themselves cannot jail people. I don't understand why the justice department cannot.
“the latest series of actions has effectively rendered criminal convictions of financial institutions largely symbolic.”
Hard to see that working here with a completely bankrupt company.
That way most laws could be worded in a way that applies to private individuals and all types of companies the same way, but then the actual punishment would be applied differently.
Specifically, when a company breaks the law, the legal framework would explain the way the responsibility should be shared between the legal entity and the private individuals involved in breaking the law.
I feel like when you manage to harm a billion people at a time, the penalty should be that your company is dissolved, it's assets auctioned off, and the trademarks and domains blackholed.
And then, since I don't support the death penalty for individuals, the C-levels investigated for their knowing involvement in any related schemes, and if proven aware, given prison time and forbidden from ever operating in a management capacity at any corporation ever again.
The problem with corporations is that there is no meaningful disincentive to commit crimes. You succeed, you get rich. You fail, you take your severance, live like a king for a year, and then get hired to do the same at another company. If executive pay is going to come with outsized pay, it should come with outsize risk: Jail executives for their choices when running corporations. For the millions they make, they'll still be lining up for the job.
Perhaps a complete replacement of all upper level management over 6 months and possibly a moratorium on board involvement for a time period for board members if it was bad enough would be sufficient? In the "a corporation is a person" analogy that's about the same as some other mind taking over the body, so that might be sufficient. You might have to have some laws that provide some bite for people that want to just jump ship immediately knowing there severance is in danger even if they stay, but it's not like what I'm proposing could happen without new legislation anyway.
As long as the payment of severance was handled by new management explicitly, and all replacements happened under explicit notice that the prior employee was being removed for compliance in an illegal activity (so they could fight against paying the severance), I think that would be a fairly good deterrence of bad behavior, since it would affect both employment of themselves and others, it has a good chance of affecting payouts when fired, and it effectively wipes the slate clean while doing what it can to preserve services and employment for as many as possible.
Possibly, but this government action could automatically trigger unemployment benefits (paid for by all the money the government just seized from corporate coffers), the vacuum created would probably quickly be filled by expanding competitors who would hire people from the executed company, and considering the intersection of "companies that commit mass abuses" and "companies that treat their low level employees like garbage", it's likely that the low level employees would come out ahead.
If say, Amazon disappeared today, people's desire for stuff would not disappear, and other companies would have to hire to fill that void. (After probably buying the warehouses and trucks at auction.) Most of those companies don't have employees peeing in bottles.
> Perhaps a complete replacement of all upper level management over 6 months and possibly a moratorium on board involvement for a time period for board members if it was bad enough would be sufficient?
But a huge part of the issue is also regarding public companies, shares, and stock value:
A big issue I have is with founders. Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, are all de facto still in control of their companies, even in the cases where they've "stepped back", because of their shareholder power (and dual-class shares, which I am still shocked is legal). And they're still wildly rich because of it. The C-level folks we're talking about, generally all hold a ton of company stock. If we accept that a given company has committed mass harm, and that the founders and C-level folks were complicit and knowing, their stock values need to be literally zeroed out.
The effect of this issue applies to stockholders too: They'll happily keep investing in bad companies because those bad companies make money and don't see any meaningful penalties. We have to destroy bad companies, make their stock worthless, so that the risk of that is factored properly into stock values.
I like this in a perfect world, but I think in reality it causes too much disruption, and not a type that's beneficial for consumers in the short run. Normally that doesn't matter, but sometimes it does. If AT&T is wiped out tomorrow, that's a lot of people losing their phone and/or internet service all of a sudden, and for many of those people their primary contact for ordering goods and services, or how they get emergency service access (911), etc.
What about Walmart? Walmart has eaten up the normal vendor market in large chunks of America. If Walmart was closed tomorrow, it would take a while for people to set up something to serve all the rural people that go there as their primary location for groceries, supplies, clothes, tools, etc. I imagine in a lot of places groceries would be sparse.
Once you get into things that are even more like utilities, it gets even more problematic. Private companies that act as utilities, like natural gas truck delivery?
I think there are lots of reasons and possible unforeseen problems with just wiping out a company. I think beheading the company and grafting some other head into place might alleviate those problems. At best, it's ensuring the problematic decision makers are gone and the the company can try to survive with the resources it has (whatever wasn't fined away) and the employees have time to plan and jump ship if it's still bad or benefit from better management, and at worst is a slower death which allows for the market to take over more naturally.
> A big issue I have is with founders. Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, are all de facto still in control of their companies
Yeah, and that's why I think it might also require special provisions on boards and or managers that have stock. Maybe an inability to sell or exercise voting rights for a period (those would be some interesting votes, where the majority shareholders can't participate).
> We have to destroy bad companies, make their stock worthless, so that the risk of that is factored properly into stock values.
That's one of the reasons I think we shouldn't go that far. What employee is going to blow the whistle when it's not just hard times for their company, but when they know they may be responsible for putting 30k people out of a job? At certain points, punishing too hard can have perverse incentives. We want people to come forward. We want people to think that this might be hard, but it's possible to weather it and eat the bitter medicine and come out the other side either better or at least still alive.
And for regular stock holders, this is way more complicated. Do we want to punish regular people that happened to have some of that stock but didn't have any inkling of what was going on? What about all the people that get advance notice and sell so they reaped the benefits of the high stock but avoid the drop on bad news, and the possible immediate loss (which the buyer unfortunately would get both of). Going back in time to revert sales just doesn't seem feasible to me, both because of how that may cascade for other stock bought with the profit, and because how do you tell when the cutoff is?
I think there's too many possible unforeseen problems with just stopping the company. I mean, there's also a lot with lopping off the head and replacing it, but by it's nature less, I think.
The Walmart problem I definitely understand, I've seen small towns essentially replaced by Walmarts. It's possible in that case we could employ another form of corporate execution: Nationalization. Perhaps in a short-term form where the government oversaw the process of spinning down the business gradually.
Actually, that might be a good middle ground, as long as there were still provisions to try to claw back any severance to execs. I'm not sure I trust all civil servants to be quite tenacious enough when it doesn't affect their own prospects.
There would also have to be provisions that required it be defunct within a certain time frame. Otherwise I'd be afraid it would be repurposed as a tool to nationalize companies without closure that avoided the discussion and vote as to whether that's a good idea by using possibly fabricated charges. That's a powerful tool to have with bad incentives in place if the government can gain from taking over the companies.
Sure, why not? The market has been doing this itself every 10 years or so for a long time. It'd be just another form of bankruptcy. I have to say that it's truly odd to see someone lamenting a company going out of business on HN.
I'm going to ignore the special pleading of "30K employees" and Walmart and the yada yada of extreme examples. Do those companies do what Moviepass did? Was Apple sufficiently punished in their wage-collusion case? I'd say no to both.
Corporate malfeasance is essentially legal, at least in the US.
We're talking about government action forcing a company out of business, so extra-market action. If it was the market, I would probably err on the side of "it does what it does, and people should have paid attention", but if it's Tuesday and everyone is none the wider and Wednesday the government says your place of employment no longer exists by fiat, that's something else.
> I'm going to ignore the special pleading of "30K employees" and Walmart and the yada yada of extreme examples. Do those companies do what Moviepass did? Was Apple sufficiently punished in their wage-collusion case? I'd say no to both.
We're talking about legislating new laws in this case, and not a law about Moviepass, but a law about any company that finds itself doing similar things. You can't ignore how it affects other companies and situations, because that's how it will be applied, exactly as it was written or interpreted. The market provides nuance, because it's really myriad people making their own decision. Laws don't, they are interpreted by regulators and or lawyers, judges and juries. Any nuance needed needs to be spelled out.
> Corporate malfeasance is essentially legal, at least in the US.
Yes, which is why we were discussing ways to combat it. It's not like my position could in any way be construed as "don't do anything". In all cases, I was just arguing for a different, more targeted way to punish the company, and perhaps one which didn't provide poor incentives for discoverability of the crime.
* until a crime is committed
Edit: Given the really suspicious timing, and how the death vacated the conviction, "died".
I definitely think board members and Top executives should be held criminally liable for the actions of the company. Unless they can prove it was a specific bad actor, and that their policies didn't encourage illegal behavior, and that they weren't negligent in discovering and stopping said behavior.
That is, if a delivery driver crashes his car because he was drinking on the job then that is on him. If the same delivery driver is speeding because he was given a list of deliveries that were not possible to make on time, that is on the executives. Conspiracy to break the speed limit, maybe even RICO charges. Even for something that simple.
That's the opposite of the entire basis of the US criminal justice system. Innocent until proven guilty.
You need to prove it was them. Not have them prove it was another bad actor.
For instance, self defense is generally an affirmative defense: something that the defense must prove to avoid conviction, instead of something the prosecution must disprove.
If you can prove somebody else was fully responsible, it goes to them
Asking someone to prove a negative is almost impossible. Asking them to disprove 3 is crazy. The prosecution should have the responsibility to demonstrate that the company had a systemic issue that was causing illegal behavior, either as a result of intentional pushes by someone with control, or as a result of wilful or reckless negligence.
How do you prove your policies don't encourage illegal behavior? The only way I can think of is to remove or invert the policy and demonstrate that illegal behavior is unchanged or potentially higher with the reversed policy. Which, incidentally, would be a violation of the law itself. Without an intent component, well-meaning policies that accidentally increase illegal behavior become illegal. Add driver tracking software to ensure people don't speed, but because of poor design the drivers fidget with it while driving? That's a violation. The counter-side is that adding intent makes it much harder to prosecute.
> and that they weren't negligent in discovering and stopping said behavior.
Again, how do you demonstrate that you weren't negligent? Hind-sight will almost always show that there was something you could have done to prevent an incident. Someone will have to create some kind of criteria for determining whether an action/inaction is negligent or not. It makes far more sense to have the prosecution demonstrate that you were negligent by failing to meet such and such criteria than for you to go on a rambling speech about what you did do, and then let the prosecution pick something arbitrary that you didn't do.
Just imagine that you're driving down a dark, unlit, windy country road. You come around a bend, there's a person crossing the road in all-black and you hit them. In court, you are then asked to demonstrate that you weren't negligent. Even if you were following the law, with the benefit of hindsight there are of course things you could have done. You could have driven slower; visibility was low. Maybe you shouldn't have been driving late at night; if you had just woken up, maybe a split-second in reaction time might have made a difference. Maybe if you had been scanning a little wider you would have seen them on the other side of the bend as you were coming up. Now you have to justify why you made each of those decisions, and any slip-up is a guilty sentence.
Other than that, I'm on board. I just don't like pushing the burden of proof onto the accused. It's an end-run around the 4th Amendment. It makes the right against self-incrimination pointless, because refusing to testify makes you guilty and lying is a crime.
It also significantly increases the power imbalance between prosecution and defense. It costs the government almost nothing to prosecute; they don't have to prove anything, so they don't need any investigators or evidence. All those costs are shifted on to the defendant, whose costs have just gone up an order of magnitude. The defendant used to need enough evidence to refute a single material point in the prosecution. If the prosecution says I was negligent because I failed to meet X requirement, I just need to prove I met that requirement or that it doesn't apply to me. If I have to prove I wasn't negligent, I now have to prove that I meet all the requirements. If I fail to pay for enough lawyers to prove each point, the prosecution can simply point to that one as the one I failed.
Why shouldn't those who stand to benefit from ill-gotten gains be those who suffer the pain when the company breaks the law? At least in a proportional way? If, for example, a felony conviction of a company for fraud incurred a penalty of 10% of the value of the company stock for all stakeholders it would align market price with shadiness of company executives. It would suck getting burned by an executive doing something nefarious you didn't know about but it wouldn't take many events like that to make some very powerful people very interested in ensuring that ethical leadership was in place.
> a felony conviction of a company for fraud incurred a penalty of 10% of the value of the company stock
Doesn't this sort of happen anyway? How would you prevent it increasing again; are you literally collecting a fee from stockholders (like a kind of anti-dividend)?
> it would align market price with shadiness of company executives
Then corps would just invest more in opaqueness and deniability (which they already do now). Corporations are known for being all PR public face. Plus, it would be easier to tank competition with slander and gossip - making investors even more scandal adverse (but not necessarily more ethically aligned)
> make some very powerful people very interested in ensuring that ethical leadership was in place
Or that there's an easy scapegoat lined up.
If you own one share of amazon, and it gets some penalty, then you face 0.00000002% of that penalty in some way.
No monetary flow, no work being done, no contracts honored, restricted and slow (if any) access to assets, etc.
Would it be traumatic? For sure. Potentially "life-ruining" for the company and the people close to it? Sure. Just like jail and prison are for regular people.
What I mean is, anyone with enough skin in the game to have ultimate control. Also, I wouldn't assign sentences based on % ownership/compensation, but rather on control-based blame.
Not shareholders but the officers and directors of the company. We already have this for financials under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. There was lots of whining that they could not possibly sign off on it because the financials are too complex and with personal criminal and civil liability for CEO/CFO there would be no CEOs/CFOs that would take it. Act got passed and, as if by magic, CEOs and CFOs decided that taking personally the criminal and civil liability was OK.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say the only reason the FTC was able to establish intent was because someone complained via email or text.
I try not to think about how much illegal activity like this happens all the time that is not prosecutable just because everyone with a modicum of morals was smart enough not to say anything on record.
Way back in the 90's I had a bank account that paid something like 5 percent interest, but only had a couple thousand dollars in it (maybe). I was between jobs and made no deposits for over a month - only withdrawals and only like 4 of them. I got to wondering about the interest and calculated it various ways. Calling the bank, they confirmed verbally that they use the average daily balance. By my calculations they exactly used the final balance (the minimum for the month). I concluded that someone somewhere realized that changing from "average" to "minimum" would make the bank a few extra bucks. Not a big difference if your balance is fairly stable, but a big deal if it's more volatile. They eventually got bought out a couple times, and interest rates are a joke now anyway.
You thought wrong. White-collar crime is effectively any crime that does not involve physical effort. Breaking and entering to steal a few dollars can get you months in jail. Pumping and dumping a stock can get you a sports car and a holiday home in the Cayman Islands.
That's not my understanding of the term "white-collar crime",
nor is it the definition used here, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-collar_crime
The interest calculation problem you describe would fall under what I think is the usual definition of "white-collar crime".
But unless an individual found a way to "take the difference" they would not personally benefit. I'd call that one fraud on the part of the bank, and if it was caught and dealt with the bank might pay a fine but nobody would go to jail. I consider "white collar crime" something that an individual could be charged for, but maybe that's not the legal definition.
This happened to me at least a couple times back in 2016 when I was seeing 2+ movies with MoviePass. I would get to the movie theater and all of a sudden be locked out. I would need to reset my password standing on the curb waiting to get a damn email over 500kbps LTE.
Good to know it wasn’t my fault and that the public in general is now aware of this behavior.
Isn't this how things are supposed to be from the onset? That'll teach 'em!
> violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,792
Oh. I think it would actually be more punitive to literally slap them on the wrist.
It's simply more profitable for them to pay the negligible fines/fees.
I'd bet dollars to donuts this would change immediately if there were criminal liabilities involved.
But since corporations are rich people who face no repercussions and who can limitlessly lobby to craft laws bespoke to them, I don't see that happening any time soon.
Near the end there so many people were cancelling that if you used a credit card they would, without your consent or interaction, start your service up again. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/559352/moviepass-reinsta...
Another even better example was linked in another comment in this thread:
This case may be a bit different though - they apparently left a pretty big paper trail:
> When Lowe and Farnsworth presented the disruption program to other executives of Respondent MoviePass, one executive warned that the password disruption program “would be targeting all of our heavy users” and that “there is a high risk this would catch the FTC’s attention (and State AG’s attention) and could reinvigorate their questioning of MoviePass, this time from a Consumer Protection standpoint.” (Emphasis in original).
> Another executive agreed, warning of “FTC Fears: All [the other MoviePass executive’s] notes about FTC and PR [public relations] fire are my main concerns as I think the PR backlash will flame the FTC stuff.” (Emphasis in original).
edit: A poor person who steals is charged. A rich person who steals behind the facade of a company is not. We call the poor person a criminal. It's entirely divorced from an actual moral framework, but simply constructed. I was agreeing with the commenter I replied to.
It does mean I lose access to a lot of the background support. Jargon, in every field, brings in a whole wealth of connected concepts and helps you communicate precisely. But some words get "skunked" (overloaded with confusing, contradictory, or pejorative meanings), and I avoid them when I think I won't be understood.
I don't fool myself into thinking I'm actually persuading anybody. The best I can hope for is a vague notion that somebody might remember that they read something once. And that works best if I'm not automatically downvoted -- which I know I will be if some people reject it out of hand.
Or enforcing a certain subset of laws on all society.
And it's not just the "bigbiz-friendly" reds, it's also the blues with their "lets not punish non-violent crime". The fact is laws in the US (and elsewhere) are written, but unevenly enforced, as such what remains is quibbling over priority. I want to see more punishments for white collar crime, but I also want to see less leniency for repeated blue-collar crime too.
You also have to either take liberties with either "developed", or with "draconian", given some of the Asian and middle-eastern developed nations.
Because, as you noted, the "bigbiz-friendly reds" do not actually support law and order either, the term "law and order" is in reality a dogwhistle.
funny that you brought it up then. You also provided a WP article to define "dog whistle", but nothing supporting "reds do not actually support law and order" which seems the crux of you argument.
It's actually quite unbelievable how there can be societies that do have the concept of a death sentence, but don't have the concept of a property nullification sentence. "You may live, but you have to start at zero and any obligation someone might have to you is nullified". The inverse of bankruptcy, basically.
MoviePass’ theft contributes to a weakening of trust amongst everyone in society, which is a much more difficult problem to address than theft of physical goods.
Not that society should be lenient on either.
> a weakening of trust amongst everyone in society
That's a very vague accusation, and can apply to nearly anything immoral. MP should return any money due, have it's credit score damaged, and punished for wilful fraud - but I wouldn't compare it to violent theft, or B&E.
It is how they can convince others to use a favorably high revenue multiple for selling any portions of the business to other people
There, saved you some time
In that sense movie theater subscriptions counts as technology. Is moviepass still dumb? Yes.
Canceled the month they started to have blackouts.
Great deal, would do again if any VC wants to try again for the goodness of the movie industry.
Of course they never called it a blackout... they just always seemed to experience technical issues... and always on Friday or Saturday... on always on a Friday or Saturday when a popular movie was being released. What a coincidence!
Step 1. Charge customers $10/month for unlimited passes to movie theaters
Step 2. Change passwords to prevent customers from getting their passes
Step 3. ???
"So at some point the company looked for ways to make this insane business model work, and it found one. It’s pretty simple: What if MoviePass collected your $10 each month and then, when you asked it for movie tickets, it ignored you? Then it could keep collecting your $10 a month without spending money on tickets. Eventually you’d get annoyed by not getting what you paid for, and you’d try to cancel your membership and get your money back, but MoviePass could ignore that too and keep collecting the $10. Giving people unlimited movie tickets for $10 a month is a good way to get rapid customer growth; telling people you’ll give them unlimited movie tickets for $10 a month, but not actually doing it, is a way to pivot to profitability."
And the way they ignored you was even worse - changing the passwords on their highest volume users.
Anyway, it's a great read. Subscribe, it is a fantastic free newsletter. Past awesome coverage included the RobinHood stock hijinks. (Bloomberg's Money Stuff newsletter, sub here: https://www.bloomberg.com/account/newsletters/money-stuff)
Also, I wonder how the corp avoided chargebacks
As far as I can tell this isn't documented on their website, but I can definitely get new cards on demand and disable them as necessary. In fact, their website still mostly references MasterCard, however I have received a physical Visa card and the virtual cards are all Visa as well.
This isn't as sophisticated an offering as privacy.com because you can't set a fixed limit per card, but it's a lot better than nothing.
In that sense it may be limited in the amount of cards you can have at once, but unlimited in the number of card details you could go through.
They could have had a small but cult business contracting with smaller theater chains, but they didn't.
They could have also bought tickets in bulk, and sold them through the app, but they didn't.
They could have reserved tickets at premiers and sold them at a markup, but they didn't.
They could have done a LOT of things to make money, but they didn't.
I say this as a onetime holder of more than 1% of publicly available shares. And I think at the time, one of the largest non-institutional shareholders.
Lost a lot of money on wanting a dumb "title".
Anyone could've looked at MoviePass' public filings and determined they would be no problem to AMC.
What if Uber and Lyft didn't subsidize ridesharing for years? Yellow cab service would still be the market leader today.
That is different. Uber and Lyft were paying drivers to drive.
MoviePass was giving people basically free tickets, but paying FULL FARE at AMC and Cinemark.
AMC and Cinemark have no reason to negotiate because what would happen if MoviePass stopped giving away tickets to AMC and Cinemark? Users would leave MoviePass and continue going to AMC and Cinemark at full price.
It was already about to be delisted and I think it was sub $1/share. So I looked up how much I'd need to own to match the largest individual investor, and decided.
I could have invested the paltry amount (I actually cannot remember how much, but it was < $10k in my IRA) in something worth while, or... burn it all to own more more than any other individual investor at the time that I did it.
I only held for a couple of days, before selling it at a ~70% loss - or vanguard liquidating when it delisted - I cannot remember now.
But it was a fun ride and brag I got to have. People at the office cheered for me. People in my house berated me.
Considering the Cinemark near me is a $1.50 per ticket second run place...
In your opinion, what's the point of being the main funnel to theaters if you're losing money hand over fist to do so? What was the plan for profitability? Was the goal to somehow strong arm movie theaters into discounted pricing? Why would theaters agree to that when there's no benefit for them to do so, they're the ones with the actual product and it's irrelevant to them if MoviePass survives?
The only way their business model can work is if the majority of customers sign up and never use it, which is a very weird thing for a business to depend on, IMO.
> no benefit
Movie theater attendance has been dropping steadily. Theaters, especially today's multi-plexes, are vast wastelands of empty seats the majority of the time. There absolutely is a benefit to them selling more tickets at off-peak times, or to not-so-hot films, or just as an incentive to sell popcorn. Keep in mind all this extra volume would cost theaters ZERO in additional marketing expense.
But if theaters wanted to do that then they would lower prices themselves.
And for all we know, most people signing up for MoviePass were the same people who were still going to the movies anyways.
This is essentially the concept of insurance, is it not?
MoviePass is the opposite. It sells/sold a product that is frequent enough and dependent on customers' choices. The MoviePass product is pitched as way to go to the movies whenever and as often as you want, thus maximizing the frequency of costly events (i.e., paying for theater tickets).
Insurance protects people financially from unlikely and *undesirable* events they don't want to happen. Nobody in good faith wants to get in a car accident or have a medical emergency. Insurance "works" by assuming most people won't have to or want to use it.
MoviePass is doing exactly the opposite, though. They're selling a desirable product for much cheaper than normal while paying full price themselves and hoping people won't actually take advantage.
This is basically how gyms are profitable.
Of course there's a limit to how many daily active users one gym can service and it's better for them if they have lots of paying, inactive users. But at no point does a user's activity cost the gym money.
A sustainable business is one where you sell cinema tickets for $11 having bought them for $10 with the customer choosing you because you've added more than $1 in value for them.
It's a car racing down a hill. The acceleration looks exponential but it's just going to crash.
I could be totally talking out my ass, but that's what I always figured. I don't see how else they could be profitable.
The company was a classic pump-and-dump; it was never supposed to last this long. Somewhere along the line some other, US-based conmen ("serial entrepreneurs") got involved, probably holding the bag for the founders who got their stock profits and bailed.
The (probably smaller) chains that play ball and negotiate selling cheaper tickets to moviepass get rewarded with more foot traffic, the chains that don't play ball get punished in small ways.
By gently and gradually steering traffic away from AMC, they would've put themselves in a much better position for negotiation.
AMC absolutely did the right thing: they kept their mouth shut, collected the money, waited for MoviePass to fizzle out, then launched their own (presumably profitable) subscription service.
I guess they could have changed my password to keep me from canceling…
There has to be a term for this?
like, it's their company and service, they can do what they want with their data. why is the FTC getting involved here?
If MoviePass had concerns about losing money on customers who had not violated any terms, the right thing to do would be
to re-evaluate their plans/pricing.
> If you sell $20 worth of movie tickets for $10, people will sign up, you will have rapid user growth and you can probably get someone to think that that’s valuable, even though in fact every user that you add costs you $10.
> But — unlike most of the “MoviePass economy” — MoviePass was not actually a venture-funded startup, did not raise piles of money, and was somewhat constrained by economic reality. So at some point the company looked for ways to make this insane business model work, and it found one. It’s pretty simple: What if MoviePass collected your $10 each month and then, when you asked it for movie tickets, it ignored you? Then it could keep collecting your $10 a month without spending money on tickets. Eventually you’d get annoyed by not getting what you paid for, and you’d try to cancel your membership and get your money back, but MoviePass could ignore that too and keep collecting the $10. Giving people unlimited movie tickets for $10 a month is a good way to get rapid customer growth; telling people you’ll give them unlimited movie tickets for $10 a month, but not actually doing it, is a way to pivot to profitability.
Make it not-obvious when something is billed, and make sure never to tip the customer off (e.g. by sending a monthly invoice). More than one company made it very easy to activate non-obvious reoccurring payments, and then communicate nothing wrt to the fact.
On that note: Fuck you NowTV.
also non too happy with Paperspace.