Stacy Spikes is currently running his movie-ticket startup, PreShow. But he's best known for co-founding MoviePass in 2011. In 2017, MoviePass was bought by analytics firm Helios + Matheson, which soon dismissed Spikes as COO. It forced him to grapple with what it takes to process, recover--and start something new. --As told to Cameron Albert-Deitch
When you go through an acquisition, it's always in your mind that maybe you and the new leadership won't see eye to eye. We had a simple disagreement over price points and strategy. That was it. I had no idea I was going to be fired. It happened on January 9, 2018, via email: "Your services are no longer needed. We thank you for everything you've done for the company."
My first thought was, "Are you kidding?" I called my wife, packed up my office, said goodbye to the staff, and left. The next day, I got up and did the usual stuff--you call accountants and lawyers, put people in motion to do what they need to do. And then I went to a movie.
I've always done this. At one really low point during my first business--a film studio that crashed and burned--I went to see Cinderella Man. Russell Crowe plays the boxer James J. Braddock. He breaks his hand, the promoter doesn't pay him, he hasn't eaten, his family is on the breadline during the Depression. But this guy becomes a champion. It helps you understand you'll get through whatever you're dealing with.
I got an office, started thinking about my industry, and watched a lot of movies. Within three weeks--and six or seven movies--my mind put PreShow together, because I wasn't having to figure out how to make MoviePass work every day.
I don't need PreShow to be successful to get over MoviePass. I'm already there. I built MoviePass. Took it from thought to completion. In 2005, I made a prediction; in 2018, it brought in more than $200 million. Did I retire and cash out, and are we talking on my yacht? Absolutely not. But that is not a loss. So I got fired. I haven't had a "poor me" moment since. Bunch of lemons. How are we going to make lemonade?