Millionaires & Billionaires

Reed Hastings' Netflix stake tops $1 billion

Watching the wealth of Netflix founder Reed Hastings has turned into its own action-packed drama.

With Netflix shares reaching an all-time high of over $530,the value of Hastings' 2.046 million shares now tops $1 billion, officially making him a paper billionaire solely on the basis of his Netflix stake.
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His billionaire status marks a huge turnaround from the fall of 2011, when Netflix shares fell to the mid-70s and the value of Hastings' Netflix wealth plunged from $858 million to a little more than $200 million.

Reed Hastings
Stephane De Sakutin | AFP | Getty Images

At that time, Hastings lost of more than two-thirds of his paper wealth, marking him as one of the leading examples of the new highly volatile "High-Beta Wealth" of the tech economy. And now, Hastings' paper fortune shows just how many acts and sequels there are in the high-stakes story of getting rich in Silicon Valley.

Of course, Hastings was labeled a billionaire even before Thursday's stock surge, given the value of his non-Netflix holdings.

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Yet those other holdings also offer a lesson in how tech CEOs have become more savvy in managing and hedging the wild swings in their wealth. For the past five years, as part of a programmed selling plan, Hastings has been selling shares in the company to take cash off the table. In April 2011, he owned more than 2.8 million shares—now, according to the latest filings, he owns 2.046 million—suggesting that he's sold more than 700,000 shares.

Media reports say his total take from those sales has been more than $150 million.

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Hastings is still the largest individual shareholder in the company, and the vast majority of his wealth is still tied to the performance of the stock. And clearly, he's created far more wealth for shareholders.

Yet by taking money off the table over the years, Hastings has ensured that however the Netflix drama turns out, he will still wind up with a fortune.