An Open Letter to the CEO of Mindbody Online

Dear Rick,
I’m taking a moment follow up on my open letter to mindbody's customers, with an open letter to you, regarding the subject of you introducing a Deals Engine to the mindbody connect app. As you know, in this app you now introduce your customer’s competition to their students, and importantly, you allow consumers to immediately connect their credit cards to other businesses.

Before going on, I’d like to remind you that I’ve often spoken positively of you as a person, and of our competition with mindbody in general.

My words are not personal. They are competitive.

I’m writing you in the open because I don’t think it’s proper that you are not holding your own company to the same set of standards you hold your customers to, and they deserve to know where your words about how they should run their companies are incongruent with the way you run your business.

Specifically at it relates to the notion of competition.

According to the comment thread in my open letter to mindbody’s customers, you wrote a lengthy letter on your customer forum to address your rightfully angry customers. 

In this letter you outlined what you believe are false perceptions by your customers. While there’s not enough room on this blog to address each of your points, there are a few in particular that need to be called out so that you understand how the way you operate your company is different than the way you talk to your customers about how they should operate their businesses.

Your words below, talking about what you believe are false perceptions.

Perception #1: Competition is inherently bad and must be avoided..
—> We don’t agree. The presence of competition indicates a vibrant market. Healthy competition brings more awareness and more buying into the ecosystem. It is the principle reason shopping malls, downtown business districts, theme parks and the Las Vegas Strip exist. It’s the reason all the medical and dental offices in my town are in the same area

Wow. Considering the fact that mindbody is so concerned with people knowing about your competition, that your company literally hijacked a Quora thread to take over the question “Does Mindbody have any competitors? Who are they?”, you sure do have a lot of nerve scolding your customers about the importance of competition.

And that was a Quora thread, something designed to answer these questions.

So let’s be 100% clear here: You don’t even want A QUORA THREAD to contain information about your businesses competitors, and yet you have the nerve to try and educate your customers about the important notion of competition WHILE TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO THEM HOW IT’S OKAY THAT YOU INTRODUCED THEIR STUDENTS TO THE GROUPON STYLE DEALS OF THEIR COMPETITORS.


You go on to say:

—> In this spirit, we will change our policy about removing posts that name competitors. (“Touché” indeed!) To make up for that, here are the best MINDBODY competitors:,,,, I know the CEOs of each of these companies, and they are all talented, decent people running reputable companies. If you truly don’t embrace the “marketplace of wellness” we are creating, and their software can meet your needs, check them out.

It’s convenient how you leave out the fact that you hold your customer’s credit card data hostage for a ransom of $600. Data you tell them they own on your pricing page. Data that you know is so valuable you've given your customer's students the ability to instantly transact with any of their competitors. 

So again, let’s be clear about what you’re doing: You’re pretending to hold the door open for your customers, all while the customer remains chained to the wall because you’re still holding their credit card data hostage.

Because you love competition so much.

The simple fact of the matter is that unless and until you are willing to let your customers take their credit card data without a $600 penalty, everything you say about the importance of competition smacks of unwarranted self righteousness.. The credit card data portability standard is something that any decent company that embraces competition adheres to. As you know, mindbody has as of yet still not joined the data portability alliance even after our call for you to do so.

But good news, later on regarding your false perception #4 you say something where we agree completely:

Perception #4: That you are somehow all playing a zero sum game, fighting over a fixed number of clients in your communities.
—> This isn’t even close to true. On average, less than 1 in 5 eligible adults in your communities are engaged in ANY organized wellness activity. Your biggest competitor is the couch and television. 

YES! We agree! See there can be harmony in the universe! I wrote this blog post about competition all the way back in October of 2013 where I say “Your competition is Facebook, the internet, TV, couches, beer, cupcakes and movies.” 

Hey wait a minute, that post came about because it was me talking about competition in relation to that whole Quora thread incident. So wow that’s super weird. 

The root issue you don’t seem to understand is this: There’s a difference between operating in a free market competitive landscape and having THE COMPANY YOU TRUSED WITH YOUR CUSTOMER DATA INTRODUCING YOUR CUSTOMERS TO YOUR COMPETITION’s DEALS.

I could go on and on but I think the point is made. You simply don’t expect your company to operate under the same environment you’re putting your customers in.  If you did, you’d free your customer’s credit card data, you’d stop hijacking internet threads about your competitors, and you certainly wouldn’t have built Groupon 2.0.