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thatwillneverwork4071 karma

Quick answer: you would probably be asking your partner if they wanted to "Disney and Chill".

Longer answer: For those who don't know, during a particularly bleak period in Netflix' history, when we were on the verge of going out of business, Reed Hastings and I flew to Dallas to try to convince them to buy us. We would combine forces, we would run the online business, they would run the stores, we would find all these amazing synergies, and voila! Everyone happy. The price we proposed? $50,000,000. And they laughed at us. So luckily we dodged that bullet.

But had they bought us, I have no doubt that the Netflix story would have pretty much ended there. I dont think I, Reed, or any of the rest of the team would have stuck around long. Blockbuster would invariably have fucked it up. They would have gone bankrupt anyway. And I would probably be working as a postman somewhere.

Streaming would have come along anyway, but probably a bit later. Netflix started streaming in 2007 (we launched as a DVD by mail in 1998) but we pretty much did it on our own for a dozen years before the rest of the industry caught on that this was better for consumers.

What allowed us to survive (and thrive) for those dozen years is that we came into streaming with a huge and healthy DVD business. And lots of understanding of consumer tastes.

And by the way: the company that Blockbuster could have bought for $50mil, now has a market cap of $250 billion. I'm just sayin!

thatwillneverwork1770 karma

I see a Nobel prize in that person's future.

thatwillneverwork1554 karma

How do you think I feel?

thatwillneverwork1230 karma

Wow. I could talk about culture for ever.

The most important thing to know though, is that Culture is not what you way, it's what you do. It doesn't matter what you write down, what you put in a culture deck, what you engrave in the cornerstone of your building . . . ultimately culture is going to spring from the behavior of the leaders.

So a lot of the cultural aspects that Netflix is famous for (Radical honesty, Freedom and Responsibilty, etc) are simply the way I have always treated people. It's the way Reed and I dealt with each other. Etc.

But most companies are like this when they start. There are way too many things to do and way to few people to do them all. So you have no choice but to give people very broad direction ("here's where we are going") and then trust them to get there. You give them the "responsibility" to get done what needs to get done, but the "freedom" to do the job the way they see fit.

That's very much how Netflix was at the beginning. It was SO much fun - since we all felt like we had autonomy, responsiblity, and such an interesting challenge.

As I said, most startups have that culture. What sets Netflix apart is not that it started that way . .. it's that it stayed that way. Because with most companies, those initial experiments get corrupted. Someone is late with their responsibility - so the well meaning leader says "we all need to do status reports". Someone overspends, so the well meaning leader says "from now on I need to pre-approve all spending above $1000". And pretty soon there is no freedom. There is no real respnonsibility. And it sucks to work there.

At Netflix we didn't every want to lost what made it so fun (and so effective) in the early days. So we tried to build a culture that preserved those things as we went from 10 to 100 to 1000 and now to 10,000 employees.

I don't work there anymore, but I know they still focus hard on preserving a culture that is free of rules, based on honesty, and where freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.

For more on where our culture came from, you should (shameless plug alert) check out my book on the early days of Netflix called "That Will Never Work".

For more on the current culture at Netflix, you should read Reed Hasting's book call "The No Rules Rules".

And to get concrete tips on how to build culture in your own company, you should (more shameless plugging ahead) listen to my podcast, also called That Will Never Work.

thatwillneverwork1166 karma

I'm not ignoring this voted up question, it's just that I genuinely don't know the answer. I don't currently work at Netflix and I haven't worked there for quite a few years. But since I know that Netflix spends unbelievable amounts of time, effort and attention on their UI and UX, I'm sure there is a good reason for exactly why it is the way it is: I just don't know what that reason is.

It's funny, because on my podcast (where I mentor early stage entreprneuers) I spend a lot of time on ideation (where ideas come from, how to validate ideas, how to quickly-cheapily-easily figure out which ideas have merit, etc). I've found that the best ideation tool is simply to look for pain, and it's obvious that "content discovery" is a huge pain point for every streaming customer.

Someone is going to figure this out eventually. Could it be you?