Is mindbody preparing to acquire classpass?

With $100 Million cash on hand and positive cash flow according to their most recent investor call, why is mindbody selling another $120 Million in shares? I believe it's either because Mindbody believes their stock is going to fall, (and I don't believe they believe that), they simply want another $100 million sitting in the bank, or they are getting ready for a monster acquisition. 

It's important to note that I have absolutely no information regarding my hypothesis, but I'm reading the tealeaves we always read and it appears to me that mindbody is preparing to acquire classpass. 

On multiple previous investor calls, including the most recent linked above, mindbody has talked about how the revenue they earn from API calls has fallen due to one of their "key partners" changing their business model, resulting in lower registrations counts. I believe they're talking about classpass who's CEO stepped down in March and who was replaced by Fritz Lanman, a classpass investor. Make no mistake, the primary aim of this new CEO is to ensure the $84 Million raised over 5 rounds isn't lost.

Mindbody is also experiencing significant churn numbers right now, losing more than 5,000 customers last quarter while at the same time their revenue is increasing. They talk now of their "high value customers" that generate significant revenue on the consumer side of things via payments, deals engine offers, etc and they openly talk about the importance of consumer revenue.

And now we learn they're selling another 4.4 Million Shares priced at $27.95 per share. 

As we've written about extensively on this blog, mindbody is in the process of pivoting away from being a software company serving small businesses to becoming a consumer marketplace, where they're the uber of fitness and studios are a commodity providing "inventory".

A classpass acquisition would fit perfectly into this strategy. Perfect for mindbody of course, not for your studio. Again, we're making predictions here, and not all numbers line up perfectly. Fortune reported that classpass was "close" to raising $35 Million back on May 5th at a reported valuation of around $400 Million. 

Did this funding fall through? Did Fritz call Rick to make a deal?  We don't know, but I think we're about to find out.

My prediction: Mindbody is about to acquire classpass for $100 Million cash, plus stock. This would pay back all 29 Classpass investors, give them some stock in mindody, and allow them to pat each other on the backs for operating a business with gross negative margins, and claim a successful exit.

As for your studio, if you're not already on Tula, you might want to consider making a switch unless you're looking forward to becoming an uber driver for Mindbody.

The Real Reason Mindbody acquired Lymber Fitness

Mindbody has made their latest investor driven move to leech off your yoga studio, steal your customers and take over your pricing for their own benefit.

A visualization of mindbody's business model.

A visualization of mindbody's business model.

The other day, Mindbody announced their acquisition of Lymber. If you're a frequent reader of our blog, you know Lymber is a dynamic pricing company, another in a long line of companies trying to explain how giving discounts is good for you. We mentioned them a few months ago when we released our variable credit feature and wrote a post about how you can use our system to create your own demand based pricing.

Lymber is a company that actively promotes to consumers that one of the key benefits of using their apps is you don't need a membership, yet you can still have access to thousands of classes across hundreds of studios. Mindbody is literally competing with their customers for the consumer's attention. 

So why would they make this acquisition? Because, as we've mentioned before, mindbody and other markeplaces like them have the primary objectives of:

1. Turning service providers (gyms, studios, salons, etc.) into commodities that provide them with "inventory" (class spots, appointments, etc.).

2. Build a relationship with consumers, so that consumers purchase their services through the software company, instead of through the service provider directly, so that the software company can make money processing credit cards.

3. Mine the data obtained through the above process, because in the new economy, data is the new oil. (Important: you have the oil!)

What mindbody believes is that your yoga studio should replicate the buying experience of purchasing an airline ticket.  Mindbody can be the Orbitz, and your studio can be the United Airlines in this equation. When you're an investor owned and controlled company that makes almost half of their money processing credit cards, this is how you think.

Don't take my word for it though, here's Lymber founder Doug Hecht in an interview shortly after the announcement of the acquisition, explaining what they do:

“We’re basically an Expedia for fitness and wellness studios,” Lymber co-founder and CEO Doug Hecht told me by telephone after the Mindbody deal closed.

Okay I'm sorry, I was wrong. Expedia, not Orbitz.

Got it.

But here's the really scary thing for independent studio owners: You can't look at this acquisition in a silo. There are numerous other moves mindbody has been making that we've constantly been writing about. And together they paint a nasty picture for independent studio owners.

Consider the following:

1. Mindbody released the Deals Engine last year, which allows them to introduce your studios to your competitors.

2. Mindbody makes 10% off of every introductory offer they help studios sell.

3. Lymber is a data company. mindbody will know everything about your company, your competitors and most importantly the behavior of your students.

Add this all up and what you see is that mindbody is incentivized to target your students with offers at other studios to get them to switch around. The reality is: a consumer that is loyal to you is a far worse consumer for mindbody, and generates for less revenue for them, than someone who hops around.

Let me explain:

  • A loyal student on a monthly membership that costs $100 per month at your studio generates exactly $2.75 in revenue for mindbody. (charging their credit card). That's it, nothing more.
  • A student they can get to purchase just one $50 pass at any other studio in their network generates $6.38 in revenue. ($1.38 in revenue from credit card processing + $5 Deals Engine Fee)
  • Get the student to switch again, and they make another $6.38.

If mindbody is able to incentivize your most loyal members to try two new studios, they increase their revenue off of that student by over 400%. Spread this out over millions of students and you can see why Mindbody's been so keen to move into the consumer space.

Now, of course Mindbody is going to tell you how their acquisition of Lymber is all about helping you create the best pricing for your studio. Don't fall for it. 

What Mindbody is really doing is building a system to maximize the revenue they generate off your students by getting consumers to change studios as often as possible, because your most loyal members are a threat to their growth rate.

The good news is there's always Tula Software. If you've been thinking about switching, there's never been a better time than now!

2017 Pricing Updates: Lower Processing fees, more Retention Center emails!

To kick off 2017 the right way we're excited to announce two small changes to our pricing to help our customers:

  1. Lower Credit Card Processing Rates
  2. More emails with the Retention Center

Lower credit card processing rates

We've reached yet another volume milestone and I'm pleased to announce that our credit card processing rates are now 2.2% +$0.30/transaction. If you've been following Tula for a while you know they started at 2.9%, dropped to 2.5%, then to 2.3%, and now they're at 2.2%. 

So on a $140 ten pack, with us you pay a credit card processing fee of $3.38, whereas with mindbody you'd be paying $3.85. Over the course of a few months this quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars in savings. And of course with mindbody you have all the hidden fees such as PCI compliance fees, hidden monthly fees, etc. 

More emails with Retention Center

The other change we're making is that the Mala plan now comes with 25,000 retention center emails instead of 5,000. Our retention center is a very powerful tool that allows you to precisely target your students and communicate in a way that's most relevant to them. We want our customers to use the Retention Center to it's fullest potential as the new year starts off, and we're happy to make this change to empower you even further.

2016 was a fantastic year for Tula as a product, and for us as a company, thanks to the public support and kind words of our customers. We appreciate that you've been willing to share the kind of company we are with others in the yoga community, and we're grateful beyond words for your support.

We hope you have a wonderful 2017, and a very happy start to the new year!

Combo links, Waiver enhancements and more

I'm excited today to announce a few changes we've been working on that'll help you out in some small ways that'll have a big impact - with both our registrations system and our waivers system.

Combo links

One of the most powerful features of Tula is our payments & registrations system, and that it can allow people to sign up no matter whether they're logged in or whether they're a new customer. Sometimes though our payment forms can be confused as registration forms, which can sometimes lead to confusion because people will buy a pass, but not get registered for a class. On the payment form, once a purchase goes through people have the option of registering, but they aren't required to register.

To fix this problem we're introducing combo links, which will allow you to both take a payment for an event, and register the student for the event at the same time. Now, whenever you create a special event, you'll see a purchase link. When a student fills out this payment form they'll automatically be registered for the class when their payment goes through.

Use this link when you want to combine payment and force a registration

Use this link when you want to combine payment and force a registration

Waiver Enhancements

We've also made a nice little update to our waivers system. Our waivers system is fast and frictionless, but there was one problem with it: It wasn't super clear whether people had a waiver on file or not. We've fixed this and added a new bit of functionality for our customers that have been around since before the waiver system, or for new people who want to upload their own waivers.

Now, when you check someone in, you'll either see a grey waiver icon, or a green waiver icon. If they have a grey icon, you'll know they need to sign the waiver. If they have a green one, you'll know they have a waiver on file.

Quickly and easily see if someone is missing a waiver, and quickly click to view a signed waiver.

Quickly and easily see if someone is missing a waiver, and quickly click to view a signed waiver.

And a lot more...

In addition we've made a bunch of changes behind the scenes on the retention center, numerous bug fixes and other small enhancements you may or may not notice.

We're already working on our next set of updates and will have more for you in the near future!

The best support in the industry now even better

One of the things we pride ourselves on at Tula is our customer service and support. We're always happy to help our customers as often as they need, and with whatever it is they need help with. Whether that be with a general question about our system, getting some help putting the widgets in their website, or just wanting to chat about the business of yoga with someone.

As we do with our product, we're always looking to refine our business operations as well, and I'm thrilled to announce today a massive upgrade to our already amazing customer support. We've changed support systems on the back end to deliver the optimal customer support experience as often as possible.

Previously, we had a support widget embedded into our product that would allow you to communicate with us. It was nice and it worked well, and our customers always appreciated being able to easily get ahold of us. So we've of course preserved this experience. 

But there were also a lot of little quirks with the system, that I believed created a sub-optimal customer experience at times. Sometimes people would think the support widget was a chat widget, and we'd get a message that said "hey is anyone there?" Sometimes people would ask for a link to the documentation they had read earlier, but couldn't find it. Other times people would ask a question that we've answered many times before, but there was no easy way to access these Frequently Asked Questions.

A human touch is nice, and we're happy to provide that, but sometimes you're even happier with an immediate answer you can find yourself.

So this was our challenge: How to provide better access to information we've already documented, how to make it as easy as ever to send us a message when you do need help, and how to make ourselves even MORE available to our customers than we are right now.

Introducing our new support widget

I'm excited today to announce a major upgrade to our support channel with a new widget that does all three of the following things:

  1. Makes all our documentation instantly available right inside the support widget, in an easily searchable format. (Please search away: We have tools on the back end to alert us to the most common questions people have!)
  2. Allows our customers to send us a message right from within the app, for the times when our documentation doesn't answer a question.
  3. Enables live chat so that we can chat with you in real time, for the times you want to talk with a human RIGHT NOW.

Just as before, you'll see a little question mark in the lower right corner of every page. But now you'll see different internals, with three separate actions you can take. 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

We're so excited to now offer live chat capabilities to our customers, while also making it easier to share the knowledge we've already put together and collected from our customer community so far.

We're obsessive about serving our customers better than anyone else, and we hope you like this latest upgrade as much as we do!