Student-run fund is seeking to take over MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson

Helios and Matheson has been struggling to stay afloat, burning through cash and turning to increasingly expensive borrowing

La Jolla, Calif.–based Triton Funds LLC is preparing to approach shareholders of MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. in an attempt to assume control of the troubled company, according to the venture fund’s co-founders.

Helios and Matheson HMNY, -10.98% has been struggling to stay afloat, burning through large sums of cash and turning to increasingly expensive borrowing. The company’s stock has plummeted in recent months. Last October, shares hit a high of $32.90, unadjusted for the 1-for-250 reverse stock split undertaken last week; they closed Friday at just 7 cents.

Triton is not a typical venture fund. It is run by University of California at San Diego finance students, with an advisory board that includes alumni and faculty. The $25 million fund’s slogan is “Millennial Touch.”

Helios and Matheson was mismanaged as a publicly traded company, fund co-founders Nathan Yee, Sam Yaffa and Yash Thukral told MarketWatch. The Triton partners believe that the company should be taken private and that there needs to be a management shakeup in order to capitalize on the company’s most valuable assets — the movie subscription model it popularized and the data it has collected from its subscribers, which now number over 3 million.

Most analysts don’t see much hope for the company. Some said the MoviePass model of allowing customers to attend an unlimited number of movies for a low monthly fee was unsustainable from the beginning. However, Triton thinks that the subscription model for cinema attendance is here to stay and that the company’s low share price is a buying opportunity, said Yee.

Triton first approached Helios and Matheson last week, and the company seemed open to discussions at first, Yaffa said. By Friday, though, he and Triton’s other founders were told Helios and Matheson was no longer interested, he reported.

Now, the fund is planning to “take a page out of Carl Icahn’s book,” said Yaffa. “We are deciding on our final valuation, and then we will reach out to the shareholders of HMNY,” he said, referring to Helios and Matheson by its ticker symbol.

The Triton co-founders declined to disclose whether they had any current investment stake in the company. Helios and Matheson could not be reached for comment.

MoviePass announced this week that it would be raising its subscription fee to $14.95 from the current $9.95 and restricting members’ access to blockbusters and new releases in an attempt to cut costs and accelerate profitability. MoviePass could curb access to first-run movies on over 1,000 screens during their first two weeks of release, unless the movies were made available on a promotional basis.

Triton’s current investments include airport food-delivery startup AtYourGate, cybersecurity company Bravatek Solutions and blockchain-based technology company DigitalTown Inc. DGTW, -5.08% .

SEE THE MARKETWATCH ARTICLE HERE

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