Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ experience with startups probably sounds familiar to anyone who’s struggled through starting a business. He has failed and questioned his leadership abilities — and yet he’s still created one of the most disruptive companies out there with Netflix.
When Netflix introduced original programming with House of Cards, they completely set the new model for streaming services — including paving the way for other big tech companies like Amazon to start their own original programming and win Emmys.
But it’s been a bumpy road to that nearly 35 percent share of Internet traffic in Netflix’s goal to “end boredom and loneliness,” as Hastings says in this video with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ John Doerr.
Hastings admits that some of his biggest lessons came before Netflix, when he co-founded Pure Software and undertook the role of CEO, where he says he made many mistakes.
He says that he asked the Pure Software board to fire him — twice — for being “bad at hiring,” especially the VP of sales for the company.
“I just couldn’t pick, I kept picking the wrong kind of person,” Hastings told Doerr in the video. “But the sales kept doubling.”
Despite Hastings’ experience at feeling like a “failure,” the board stuck with him at Pure. And he happily took those lessons to Netflix.
The entire video is about a half hour long, but it’s a good sit down with Hastings that covers many aspects of starting and running a successful business, including some other good lessons on making mistakes (remember DVD mailing service Qwikster?), creating and maintaining your company’s culture, and what you should concentrate on in the hiring process (not the candidate’s interview — the references).
Doerr also asks Hastings about competing with Amazon, which he admits they do, when bidding for shows. But Hastings says that they compete with “anything” you do in your free time — gaming, drinking wine, etc. — and that Netflix plans to spend $5 billion on content within the next year.
Five billion worth of shows? Bring it on.