Archive for the ‘Inconsistency’ Category

Service of Subscriptions: A Winning Business Model—Sometimes

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Photo: Tundra Restaurant Supply

Before Amazon customers buy a toothpick, its 100 million Prime subscribers have handed the company from $77.88/year to $119/year, representing the cost to students and everyone else respectively. [Some may be grandfathered at $99.99.] Nobody outside the company seems to know the breakdown so you can’t do the math but 100 million paying $1/year would represent a tidy sum.

Subscribers get benefits such as free fast shipping for eligible items, shopping deals, streaming films and TV shows.


According to Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post, “The real money, though, is in the buying power these shoppers wield: Prime members reportedly spend an average of $1,300 a year on Amazon, compared with $700 for its customers who are not members.” And it seems that many of the former don’t comparison shop.

The subscription model works for others such as Netflix, which Siegel reported has 125 million members. Health clubs too—which count on people paying for a year and not returning after a few months.

Photo: What’

On the other hand, MoviePass has had trouble calculating its fee and benefits–a shame as the concept originally served a purpose, especially for customers in cities where one movie ticket costs upwards of $15. Its monthly fee will soon increase to $14.95 from $9.95. According to Nishant Mohan in The Wall Street Journal, “MoviePass, which has more than 3 million members, lost $98.3 million on $48.6 million of revenue in the quarter ended March 31.”

Tuesday’s Journal reported that the company would limit subscribers from one movie a day to three a month. Ben Fritz wrote that the company had forecast 5 million subscribers by December 2018 which chief executive Mitch Lowe admits might not happen quite that fast. He told Fritz: “Ultimately, I believe this is a 20 million-subscriber business over the next three to four years.”

Meanwhile, it’s trying to stay afloat. It has competition such as AMC Entertainment Holdings with 175,000 members with a monthly $19.95 charge to see three movies a week at its US theatres. MoviePass “plans to limit the availability of first-run movies opening on more than 1,000 screens during the first two weeks.” It also has had technical glitches. One recent day its app featured showtimes for e-ticketing theatres, only, and none others.

I’ve noticed disgruntled customers gripe on social media. One subscriber wrote on Facebook: “I’m unable to cancel my account. They say you’re liable for a year. It’s crazy. You have to go thru their app for customer service and that took more than 2 hours.”

Have you had trouble getting out of a subscription? How many times can a company stumble and succeed in the end?  Are there some subscriptions you endorse? Any you don’t?


Service of Inconsistent Morality

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

ups and downs

A society that on the one hand reflects straight-laced puritan roots regarding marriage and at the same time barely shrugs at the likes of a hedge funder’s shenanigans—I’m thinking of Steve Cohen–baffles. Cohen agreed to pay a multi-million dollar fine for insider trading while at the same time refusing to admit guilt, an approach that the Security and Exchange Commission approved. Did someone knock out this watchdog? Does the public play possum again?

hand in cookie jarGood for federal Judge Victor Marrero who, as Kaja Whitehouse wrote in The New York Post, “balked at the agreement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Cohen’s SAC Capital that allows the firm to pay a $602 million fine without admitting or denying guilt.” Meanwhile, Mr. Cohen has recently bought $215 million worth of goodies: a Picasso painting and East Hampton ocean-front home. Any ideas of what investors without the inside scoop bought—maybe a sandwich at Subway?

Of a different nature, a major publisher paid half a $million for what The New York Post reported as the memoir of a “drug-addicted beauty writer.” In addition, the author told reporters “she’d rather ‘smoke angel dust with her friends’ than hold down a full-time job.” The Post continues, “Aside from four abortions, she recalls getting ‘choked out by a Park Avenue millionaire kid in a pine grove by the reservoir at 4 a.m.’ and ‘sex in vacant lots in Bushwick with white rappers.’” Who can believe what someone consistently under the influence remembers about her 29 years and frankly, who cares? The publisher thinks many will. I hope they don’t.

Here’s a society strung out on the politically correct with dollops of conservative values that concurrently lies motionless when someone picks their pockets and regulators wink. In this environment a publisher thinks people are hungry for the sad story of a lost soul with less than three decades and little perspective to write a worthy memoir. Sure it’s democracy at its best but can you explain such extremes and contradictions?

hot and cold

Service of Inconsistency

Monday, September 17th, 2012


There’s vivid inconsistency between politically correct approaches/the law as it affects business and the expectations and entitlements of those involved with art. A dinner conversation the night before I read a Wall Street Journal article made this especially clear.

bosswithsubordinateAt dinner a friend described how her conversation with subordinates at her company is restricted by law in countless ways. While I won’t abuse her confidence by sharing the instance she described, I can see how communication and counsel between boss and staff or between colleagues can be affected by fear of lawsuit or of being fired. Take an example where a well-meaning boss wants to advise someone in his/her department not to constantly complain to everyone about countless little ailments as some might pass over a person too sick to handle bigger responsibility. Said to the wrong person the boss might be accused of discriminating against the disabled.

Some fear being charged with sex discrimination for paying a compliment to a colleague who looks particularly great one day. If you’ve gone to the trouble to look super for a meeting or because you are going to an event after work, you feel let down if nobody notices. It’s not important in the long run, but a bit of civility and uplift is lost.

It’s a whole different thing in the art world. An instance that illustrates this is buried in the middle of Kelly Crow’s article “Shaking up the Smithsonian.” Most of the article described the success of its secretary, Wayne Clough. The tidbit that caught my eye was what Crow described as Clough’s only fumble. He was rebuked by some in art circles because “he removed an artwork from a National Portrait Gallery exhibit called ‘Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.’ The work, a 1987 video called ‘Fire in My Belly’ by David Wojnarowicz, showed ants crawling on a crucifix and drew complaints from Christian religious leaders. Several congressmen joined in, demanding that the show be shut down.”

Clough didn’t close the exhibit, he removed the Wojnarowicz video.

Before I continue with the Smithsonian story, I’d like to know what ants crawling on a crucifix has to do with the subject of the exhibit–American portraiture.

taking-back-moneyBack to what happened. As a result of complaints of censorship by The College Art Association and The Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts-the latter said it would never again fund a Smithsonian show if the video wasn’t put back in the exhibit-an outside panel “drawn up by the Smithsonian’s regents recommended that art not be taken out of future exhibits that have already opened,” wrote Crow. During the kerfuffle Clough didn’t say much but  according to Crow he now notes that in future, he’ll seek advice from his museum directors before taking action.

The takeaway: In the art world if you are visually outspoken or you insult anyone’s symbols or lifestyle it’s OK. Try to control artistic expression and you’ll be accused of censorship. In business, watch your mouth. Am I alone in seeing this inconsistency?


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