Tech

Reed Hastings steps down as co-CEO of Netflix to be replaced by Greg Peters.

Reed Hastings has led Netflix since he co-founded the company in 1997 that originally shipped DVDs by mail. Netflix now has over 230 million customers worldwide, dominates the video streaming industry that it basically invented, and Hastings is no longer going to run his company from day to day.

hastings, Netflix announced Thursday afternoon, will become the executive chairman of the company. He will be replaced by two co-CEOs – Ted Sarandos, who previously shared the CEO position with Hastings and is the company’s primary Hollywood contact, and Greg Peters, who served as the company’s CTO for several years. Hastings says he will still work at Netflix, but will now have more time for philanthropy (Hastings, a Peace Corps veteran, is particularly interested in education).

This is something that makes a lot of sense in many ways. First, we’ve seen a whole generation of technology CEOs leave their companies in recent years, which is why Hastings is trending.

And at Netflix, Peters has always been one of the co-CEO contenders, and he’s been getting more time in front of investors in quarterly earnings reports lately. He’s also in charge of Netflix’s brand new advertising business and its games division – neither of which is a significant part of the company’s revenue at the moment, but both are expected to become part of revenue over time.

In the meantime, there was a lot of speculation about when Hastings would leave the company, and many people inside and outside the company told me that they thought Hastings had already retired from day-to-day operations. And the fact that Netflix’s growth problems, stock crashes and the move to ads, all of which launched about a year ago, has prompted Hastings to be more hands-on again.

So you can read today’s time as Netflix telling Hollywood and Wall Street that he thinks he’s got the ship right.

Hastings’ version, posted today on the company blog: “Ted, Greg, and I have been working closely together in various roles for 15 years. As is usually the case in a long and effective relationship, we have all learned to bring out the best in each other.” There is nothing to see here, everything is as usual.

Still! This is still the company that Hastings built and the source of it (estimated) $3.3 billion of net worth. And although he indicated Blog post that other founders of Big Tech, such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, handed over CEO positions to their successors by taking over as executive chairman, this scenario has had mixed results. Particularly at Microsoft, the company didn’t regain its footing until Gates and his successor Steve Ballmer left the company entirely and Satya Nadella took over as CEO and executive chairman.

And from a practical standpoint, it’s very, very hard to imagine any large company succeeding with two CEOs and one founder. At some point, you have to imagine that this reorganization will be reorganized again.

Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of corporate structures, the company also announced the promotions of two of its top creative executives: Bela Bajaria, who was previously head of its television division, is now its director of content, and Scott Stuber, who oversees Netflix. films, is currently Chairman of Netflix Film. (I asked Netflix PR what the difference would be between Stuber’s old and new work, and whether he would report to Bajaria, and was told that Netflix doesn’t comment on their reporting structure, but I can verify that. useless list of Netflix executives.)

Both moves are notable as they represent Netflix’s response to its many critics who have complained about Netflix movies and TV shows over the past few years – some people don’t think they’re good; others worry that they are too expensive and/or not popular enough.

You can read Netflix’s statement as a public rebuke to cultural and business observers: “This is our team and we stick to them.” This is particularly noteworthy as it comes months after Stuber was reported to have spoken to Amazon about moving others there, among other things, and just days after Bajaria’s New Yorker profile which has (quiet) made tongues talk on both coasts for several reasons, including a strange or serious joke Bajaria made to her profiler about Chardonnay. (Today I had coffee with the Big Deal Content Man. His first question to me is “What do you think of Bela’s profile?”)

Or, in the words of Peters on the company’s earnings report Thursday: “There are no big shifts in strategy or culture.”

A question we won’t have an answer to any time soon: If Netflix really needs to change something, which of its three leaders will make that call?


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