Ted Farnsworth’s road to redemption for MoviePass will take him through Boston.
Farnsworth (below) is based in Miami, and the company he ran until a week ago, MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson, is based in New York.
But Farnsworth has hired a Canton-based firm led by Allan Stern, called Silent Disclosure, to build a new mobile platform for MoviePass, using Stern’s get2it technology. And Farnsworth is working with Rasky Partners, the Boston public affairs firm, to promote his bid to acquire MoviePass from Helios and Matheson.
MoviePass crashed and burned spectacularly after offering unlimited movie viewings for as low as $9.95 a month. The platform was swamped with up to 3 million users at one point, and Helios and Matheson couldn’t pay for all the redemptions at the movie theaters. (One hope was that Helios could make enough money by selling the data it collected.)
Helios shares took a beating, and they have languished in penny-stock territory. While the subscription pricing was adjusted and the inventory of movies was restricted, the MoviePass site was eventually shut down earlier this month.
But maybe not for long. Farnsworth announced last week that he had submitted an offer to buy MoviePass, two related film production and acquisition companies, and the Moviefone listing service. He stepped down as CEO at Helios and from its board of directors, to avoid any conflicts. (Another Boston connection: Greenberg Traurig’s Boston office handles legal affairs for Helios.)
Farnsworth believes there’s a sustainable market for a film subscription service like the one promised by MoviePass. One fix: charging more, as much as $20 a month. Farnsworth says he’ll have more control if he owns the business directly, rather than through a holding company.
“A lot of those mistakes we’ve really corrected in the last several months,” Farnsworth says. “I’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company (through Helios). I could either walk away and say, ‘Oh well, it didn’t work,’ or say, ‘This is the good and this is the bad, and the good outweighs the bad.’” — JON CHESTO
Once a remote idea
Working from home might seem commonplace today. But it was pretty unusual 15 years ago, at least in the accounting field.
Just ask Jane Steinmetz, who leads the Boston office of accounting and consulting giant Ernst & Young. In a speech at the From Day One conference in Boston last week, Steinmetz recounted a time at a previous employer when her daughter was born 15 years ago. She asked if she could work from home one day a week. Her direct supervisor said he did not want anyone working from home. So she said, “Then fire me.”
She wasn’t fired, and in fact did get permission to work from home. And she’s still friends with her former boss — who eventually ended up enjoying working from home, too.
Steinmetz didn’t name the supervisor or the employer. But she says accounting firms have long since changed their approach, just like other companies trying to attract diverse talent.
Her tips for the audience about improving the diversity of your company’s leadership ranks: start grooming internal candidates for jobs well before they open up, and mingle with as many different people as possible in your workplace.
“What we take for granted nowadays, took some breaking the mold when I was coming up,” Steinmetz said in an interview. “Nowadays, I’m not saying we’re perfect, but there’s much more recognition of the flexibility that’s needed to allow people to be well rounded.” — JON CHESTO
Law firms seek diversity
Everyone from marketing agencies to banks is hiring diversity officers these days. It’s not surprising to see law firms doing it, too. Within days of each other, two prominent Boston law firms announced they had appointed people to newly created diversity and inclusion roles.
Foley Hoag hired Rosa Nunez as its first director of diversity and inclusion. Nunez moved to Boston from New York. Before joining the firm, Nunez held similar roles at PR firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe, Omnicom Media Group, and Accenture. Foley deliberately decided not to hire a practicing attorney, to bring more of a fresh perspective.
Meanwhile, Ropes & Gray hired Kia Scipio for a similar role, also newly created. Scipio was recruited away from rival law firm Fish & Richardson. Scipio, who is a lawyer, will be based in Washington, but will spend considerable time in Boston and other Ropes & Gray offices.
Scipio told Bloomberg Law that clients now expect their law firms to make a commitment to diversity. She said law firms “are realizing that we really need somebody who can truly focus on the strategy behind creating effective (diversity and inclusion) efforts.”
— JON CHESTO
Healey’s Babson legacy
Kerry Healey has left Babson College after six years as president and has decided to take a job with the Milken Institute. But the former lieutenant governor’s name lingers on at the Wellesley business school — in more ways than one. The famous Babson World Globe on College Drive is nestled in what’s called Kerry Murphy Healey Park.
And on Monday, Babson unveiled plans to create the Kerry Murphy Healey Center for Global Healthcare Entrepreneurship, with $10 million in new and previous gifts from the Kletjian Foundation. The next step will be to establish an advisory council for the center and then hire an executive director. The goal, Babson said, is to inspire students, faculty and staff to bring entrepreneurial solutions to “pressing global health care challenges.” — JON CHESTO
Kennedy talks Irish roots
Joe Kennedy was at the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce meeting at the TripAdvisor headquarters last Tuesday to talk about immigration, not to make a big announcement about his bid for the US Senate. (That happened on Saturday, though word got out a few days beforehand.)
Chamber CEO Greg Reibman joked about Newton Democrat’s big political decision, asking him whether he could let the crowd in on the secret: Would he be endorsing Bryan Barash or Emily Norton for the Ward 2 city council race?
The discussion was largely a sobering one, though, particularly when Kennedy drew upon his own Irish roots to talk about how immigrants have played a critical role in building this country. Many, of course, fled Ireland during the potato famine of the mid-1800s.
“The country itself, the population, still has not recovered,” Kennedy said, before adding a little levity. “The flip side is, you can find an Irish bar in any country of the world.”
After Kennedy finished his speech, he ducked out of the room, with several journalists trailing close behind.
That didn’t seem to faze Massachusetts Competitive Partnership CEO Jay Ash, who was ostensibly giving the keynote speech. “I don’t take it personally when all the news cameras go out of the room,” Ash told the crowd. — JON CHESTO