Has Netflix CEO Hastings Learned Nothing?

A month or so ago, after Netflix delivered a dreary outlook, I wrote a piece headlined, “In Praise of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.”

Reed Hastings | CEO Netflix
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Reed Hastings | CEO Netflix

Hastings had apologized for misstep after misstep, each one pummeling Netflix’s stock , and conceded he had fallen into the trap of believing his own press clippings.

I figured it was time for a reminder that, through the noise, Hastings had created a heck of a company—and until this past year, executed almost flawlessly.

Then Hastings showed up last week at a media conference sponsored by UBS , where he conceded, “We got overconfident.”

But then—and this is where I start wondering whether he has learned anything—he said he only really worried about one competitor: HBO Go.

All I could think—is he kidding?

It sounded so arrogant, especially in the face of not just continued competition from the likes of Apple and Amazon (among others), but on the same day there were rumblings that Verizon (of all companies) was about to get into the video streaming business.

Thursday that “story” got more legs with the blog Tech Crunch saying that Verizon may be teaming up with Coinstar’s Redbox for a streaming/downloading partnership set to launch in May.

It’s unclear if that will happen, and if it does—whether it will be a serious threat to Netflix. (CoinStar’s stock is up around 5 percent on the speculation.)

This is clear: In business and investing, as I’ve said repeatedly, hubris can be humbling.

I would have thought Hastings would have learned that by now.

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