Reed Hastings & Netflix: How He Revolutionized Video Streaming

Netflix has solidified it’s brand so much that ‘Netflix & chill” is now a common term for relaxing. This makes it kind of hard to believe that the company was neither a streaming service nor a producer of original content. It instead mailed DVDs from other production companies to its subscribers. 


However, co-founder Reed Hastings’ extraordinary vision turned the simple company into a multibillion-dollar company that has disrupted the entire entertainment industry. Can you imagine a world without Tor, Torrents and Netflix streaming?

The Beginning: Early Life of Reed Hasting

Wilmot Reed Hastings Jr. is a philanthropist and entrepreneur best known for his role as a co-founder of Netflix. He joined the Marine Corps officer training but did not complete and instead opted to switch to the Peace Corps after graduating from Bowdoin College

From 1983-85, he spent his days as a Mathematics teacher in Swaziland, which according to Hastings, was integral to shaping his entrepreneurial spirit. In 1988, he completed his Master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford University.

Hasting’s first Company

Thanks to his time at Stanford, Hastings received exposure to entrepreneurs he previously considered untouchable. “It really helps to be around them, to see they are regular people with a good idea. The thing I took away was that if they can do it, I can do it.”

And true to this, he founded Pure Software in 1991. The firm’s core product was Purify, a software debugging solution that proved to have plenty of demand. He however admits that his management style was far from perfect. 

Hasting’s obsession with creating an error-free system led to the creation of processes to cater for any occurring errors. This ‘dummy-proofing’ efforts resulted in a drastic decline in the average intelligence of personnel thus impairing their ability to keep up with market changes. 

He left the company shortly after it was purchased by Rational Software in 1997.

The Revolution: Netflix

While Hastings and former Pure executive Marc Randolf were looking into what could be the next big thing, a $40 late fee from Blockbuster jump started the process. “I remember the fee, because I was embarrassed about it. That was back in the VHS days and it got me thinking that there’s a big market out there.” 

The Amazon model appealed to the pair, prompting them to search for a niche the mail-order giant had not yet filled. Netflix was officially launched in 1998 with 925 DVD titles (at the time this made up essentially the entire DVD universe). 

Hasting’ss ability to recognize that DVDs would dominate at the very least, the near future and previous experience at Pure helped him come up with a company culture that would drive his company into the future. 

He took a hands-off approach with Netflix, sometimes going for months without making decisions. With his employees getting paid higher than the industry standard, enjoying a no dress code policy and even unlimited vacations, he has found that the company actually operates with full accountability, transparency and radical honesty.

Netflix As We Know it

Reed Hastings’ rise was accelerated by his ability to recognize a promising venture and take action to exploit it as well as the ability to learn from his mistakes. He is the reason you can access thousands of films at an affordable fee. 

He has proven that to make it big, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing to learn from your imperfections. Start by protecting your data. It will surely make the watching experience worthwhile!

Leave a Reply