Want to know how to start a global streaming platform, well-known throughout the world? Reed Hasting did this by following a few principles. Today Netflix is onethe most well-known companies globally with a turnover of 20 billion dollars a year.
It wasn’t easy at first. He and his co-founder have been eating dirt for years. When the wind spun in his direction, Reed became the best in the streaming market.
Before becoming one of the few billionaire entrepreneurs (currently his net worth is around $ 2.3 billion), Hastings hiked halfway across Africa and then sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door.
Despite this and all the difficulties encountered, he still succeeded. Thanks to some lessons that he has learned that we will share with you. Read on as I reveal these lessons. First, you need to know a little about his life. It is a continuous twist, which is the reason it is worth telling.
Reed Hastings has also written a book, I am sure with his character, he will become an icon in this entrepreneurial era.
Reed was born on October 8, 1960, in Boston, Massachusetts. He spent the first years of his life in the suburbs of the US metropolis.
He wandered around the United States for a while with his family, who settled in Maine. Here he graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick.
So far his life is as normal as other American boys. This is when he had some choices to make, of a different in nature. He wasn’t sure what he wanted.
First, he tried a military career. He enlisted in the Marine Corps. But this experience lasted just six weeks.
“They weren’t very stimulating activities, but they gave me the opportunity to reflect on my role. So I decided to apply for enlistment in the Peace Corps and left the Marines.”
Reed has shared.
He stayed in the Peace Corps for two years. Mostly in Swaziland teaching mathematics.
Swaziland is what is known today as eSwatini: it is a very small independent state in southeast Africa.
This experience changed Hastings who was 20 years old at the time: from a human and a professional point of view.
“It was a very interesting and satisfying experience. Once you’ve hitchhiked across Africa with just $ 10 in your pocket, being an entrepreneur won’t be that hard at all.”
Can you blame him?
Following that experience, his first job was as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.
Yes, the current CEO of Netflix started his “career” as a door-to-door salesman.
Hastings never denied he did that job, indeed, a few years ago talking about it he confided that: “I liked it a lot because it allowed you to meet a lot of different people”
Returning from Africa, Reed Hastings enrolled at Stanford University, in 1988 he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Following various experiences in some Californian startups, Hastings decided to set up his own business. In 1991 he founded Pure Software, a small software house that made tools for Unix developers.
Its success was immediate. The company grew exponentially, making a series of acquisitions and mergers that led to it having more than 100 employees before the second year of life.
Despite things being great, Reed wasn’t happy at all. Because…
He no longer felt – or perhaps he had never felt – that the company was something of his own. Not so much as a property, but the course of action and a way of doing things.
Thus, in 1997 Pure Software was acquired by Rational Software. He viewed the acquisition as liberating.
Then he paused to reflect, but it didn’t last long. His entrepreneurial side prevailed and…
He decided to do something with his close friend Marc Randolph.
In the spring of 1997, Reed and Marc’s first business plan was to rent video games and DVD movies by mail.
Our entrepreneur was just 35 years old.
The user connected to the NetFlix site (with a capital F), chose a title, and waited for the postman. Similar to online purchases today. They had no idea that streaming would take over this industry.
The rental cost was $ 6, including shipping costs.
The concept, however, was struggling to take off. So Hastings decided to switch to the unlimited monthly subscription: you could choose up to a maximum of three titles, return them, and receive others, several times in the same month.
Netflix’s first office was an old bank office in Santa Cruz, California, with a super warehouse to store and catalog all DVDs.
So how did Netflix’s successful reconversion come about? Today this company has 151 million subscribers in 190 countries and a share value of $ 600.
Let’s not forget that within a decade, Blockbuster which was a company similar to Netflix saw its business collapse. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and completely disappeared from circulation 3 years later.
As it happened the two re-evaluated the business, and 2007 was the real turning point.
“The Watch Now streaming service was launched: it allowed them to instantly watch movies and TV shows on their computer.”
Users had access to a maximum of 18 hours of free streaming, a variable number based on the user’s subscription plan.
As I said, it wasn’t all easy for Reed. Far from it. He didn’t give up or he would have ended up like Blockbuster or stayed on a smaller level.
What happened next …
In 2011 Hastings decided to separate the streaming service from the DVD rental one, it was a failure.
In a few months, the platform lost about 600,000 subscribers and the company’s shares saw half the value. Soon, he backed off.
First, he held on, secondly …
In 2017 Netflix faced a mega lawsuit. He allowed users to download movies and found himself in the middle of a lawsuit for infringement of a patent filed in 2000.
After the lawsuit, comes the third blow after an unfortunate Tweet.
“To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?”
In addition to the tone, the tweet aroused several negative reactions, making the viewer hyper-aware of the precision with which his viewing habits were monitored. It raised privacy concerns.
But, Reed overcame this blow too…. what happened next is his success story.
What philosophy got him so far?
On the surface, it would seem that THE Rule for Reed is that there are no rules.
The founder and CEO of Netflix wrote a book: No Rules Rules: Netflix and The Culture of Reinvention.
But in reality, he has two golden rules. They manage to make the most of its outcome:
“I am freedom and responsibility”.
For him, what matters most is to free employees from as many constraints as possible.
The second is investing in talent, encouraging honesty, and a sense of responsibility from all employees.
It seems utopian, but not so much because it has reached almost 200 million subscribers, surpassing all other streaming platforms.
Something else that was interesting… after Reed’s African adventure he developed a kind of reverence for public education.
At the beginning of 2000, he held the position of President in the California State Board of Education, to this day, he subsidizes scholarships and referendums in favor of charter schools.
Good for you, Reed Hasting. You are an entrepreneur I can appreciate. Speaking of entrepreneurs, the one below is me. I also have a company and I am Italian.
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