In Dutch we have a saying which translates to “The death of one, means food for someone else”, which basically is similar to the saying “Their loss, your gain”. It’s something Bill Ackman follows closely because he is convinced that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and will eventually no longer exist. He is so certain of this fact that he, together with his investors, has bought shorts on Herbalife shutting down for the sum of one billion dollars. This documentary doesn’t only look at his battle against the company, but also looks at Herbalife’s history, the way it operates and the many participants who eventually lost a lot of money because they believed that Herbalife would be the way for them to make the American Dream a reality.
Herbalife itself sees Ackman’s actions as a declarations of war and does anything it can to defend its business model. But Ackman’s press conferences and interviews on various channels seem to have their effect as the stock price slowly starts to go down. Herbalife does get some support though, which makes Betting On Zero a fascinating documentary because you partly start to wonder if Ackman isn’t just trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy (even though he states he’s planning to give the profit to charities). Still you also see that the model of Herbalife has its issues, because it seems very difficult to earn money by selling product the company has and it can only be done by bringing other people to the table. For those on the bottom that turns out to be very difficult. Whatever your opinion is about the company, this is a film which makes you think more about its practices.