Reed Hastings Pushes The Envelope With Netflix


Experts and analysts have written the obit on Netflix so many times I've stopped ordering flowers for the funeral.

Yet the company which pioneered DVD rentals-by-mail has continued to defy the odds. Just this week it reported subscriber growth of 26 percent in 2008, while revenues grew 13 percent, and profits grew 36 percent (58 percent on a non-GAAP basis, which excludes stock-based compensation expenses, net of taxes).

A few months ago we got unprecedented access inside Netflix's operations.

We saw people madly stuffing those little red envelopes, taking regular "stretching breaks".

I did an extended interview with company founder and CEO Reed Hastings, who has one of the most unusual management styles in Silicon Valley (that's saying something).

In this exclusive, here is that story. Learn how Hastings got the idea for Netflix after renting "Apollo 13", and how his management style has been compared to...George Clooney.

Hastings also explains why he believes Netflix can have a movie-by-mail business alongside a movie-streaming business. For the moment, most of the movies Netflix has available to stream are older. That's because the broadcast and cable networks have deals already cut with studios to get those films first, before Netflix. As those deals start to expire, Netflix plans to push hard to move up to the front of the line.

One update since we edited the piece--this week's earnings report revealed that the 8 million subscribers I mention are now over 9 million.

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