OCTOBER 3, 2018 — On a perfectly beautiful autumn evening, an intimate crowd gathered in the stunning penthouse atop 252 E. 57th Street, the SOM-designed residences on the eastern edge of Billionaire’s Row.
The panoramic views of Central Park and NYC skylines at dusk served as an incredible backdrop for a one-on-one conversation between Stribling & Associates President Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, and Stacy Spikes, Founder and former CEO of MoviePass. The topic of conversation: how can businesses use disruption to create better communities?
“I think this word disruption keeps coming up,” began Stribling-Kivlan as she sat down beside Spikes to address the audience. “How does the idea of disruption apply to all of us in this room — and how can we, as Stribling, help to spread the conversation outside of entertainment and real estate, and into differing fields?”
To be sure, the term “disruptor” has been popularized in headlines, advertisements, and everyday jargon across many industries now struggling to find their footing in the new digital era. Businesses from music and entertainment to real estate and fashion have felt the pressure to keep pace with shifting demands of their client base — where convenience has become the new luxury du jour.
“Disruption — to me — happens when you aren’t paying attention to what’s happening around you,” Spikes astutely chimed in. “Let’s start with Napster. It was the first platform of its kind to bring downloadable music to the masses. At first the music industry tried to stop it, but it became clear that CDs were not what the people wanted. Now we have programs like iTunes, Amazon Music, Pandora, and Spotify.”
Spikes is no stranger to tech disruption. In 2011, he launched MoviePass, the only subscription-based service for going to the movies in the United States. In the midst of the streaming revolution, when NetFlix and Amazon were urging people to get their movies inside the comfort of their own homes, Spikes figured out a way to get people back into the movie theaters through a more seamless experience. “I was a fan of the HBO model, and I wanted to apply that same model to the movies, that was the thought,” said Spikes.
“People like to go to the same place, and be together, and watch an event,” he continued. “It’s the same as going to a concert. People have the option of listening to their favorite artists through various streaming services, but there is something about going to a concert with other people. In the case of MoviePass — the movie is the concert, but it’s often more affordable.”
Stribling-Kivlan then brought the conversation back to real estate, and asked how she — and others in her industry — could go about improving business through disruption, even if it meant disrupting themselves?
“All businesses ask ‘how do I get more people down the funnel?’ ” said Spikes. “The internet is great about top-of-funnel, but how do you get them further down? So, real estate is such a big ticket item: I have to see it, have to touch it, I have to walk around it. Is it ‘do I spend time on software to get your mortgage approved and make that faster?’ ‘ Do I go into virtual realty so that we can virtually walk around this space?’ I think it’s just smart to always take new tools, bring them into the wheel shed, and try them.”
As the evening wrapped up, Spikes offered a strong piece of advice: “If you want to bet against the horses that are technology moving forward, be my guest. But they are always moving. When you see what those kids are playing with in the corner… when they’re on those devices, you have to realize that they are your future consumer. Pay attention to what they’re doing and research and develop the hell out of it.”