Very engaging question!
I have had some positive experiences with this type of business model. My perspective on that is the benefits were really about LEARNING how to operate a small home based business.
In other words, my impression of MLM being positive is not about making millions and becoming rich as is often advertised or promoted.
It's was more from a practical standpoint of learning the fundamentals of product promotion, public speaking, interpersonal communications, team building, sales and marketing, etc.
Many of these skills transferred well into other successful brick and mortar businesses.
Just to be clear I have had an opposite experience as well. One in which we built a small organization and were excited about the potential only to have the company fold and go out of business do to industry (telephone) regulation.
In its essence MLM is a very solid business model.
The challenge is to have the right company, service or product and being involved with people who are of the same commitment level and vision.
This will allow people to work together in order to succeed together. If those things are not in place then most likely the experience will leave a lot to be desired.
Hope that helps!