Education: Master of Science, Computer Science
College: Stanford University
- Member Technical Staff, Schlumberger Pao Alto Research - 1989
- Math Teacher, Swaziland - 1985
2. Origin Story
Netflix was co-founded in 1997 by serial entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. In 1991, Hastings had founded his first company, Pure Software. They IPO'ed in 1995 and later acquired Randolph's company, Integrity QA. It was then that the two would meet and become close. In 1997, Pure Software was acquired by Rational for $700 million. Randolph and Hastings were looking to start another company, and Randolph did most of the pitching.
They knew the potential of e-commerce and hence, wanted to create a company that sells stuff on the internet. They discussed thousands of ideas, from customised sportswear to shampoos. On one of their commutes from Santa Cruz to Sunnyvale, they settled on what looked like a winner: selling DVDs for rent online. Hastings would supply the seed capital and invested $2.5 million. Netflix started as a rent-by-mail DVD service that used a pay-per-rental model. Users would browse and order the films they wanted on their website, put in an order, and Netflix would post them to their address. After renters had finished with the DVDs, they would simply post them back.
They soon became very popular, and in 1999 they debuted a subscription model, where customers could rent unlimited DVDs for a low monthly price. In 2000, Hastings approached Blockbuster for a partnership, but its CEO just smiled and laughed at him. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010, the same year that Netflix introduced its now-famous online streaming service.
3. Other interesting points
- After graduating from college, Hastings served with the Peace Corps, which specializes in promoting social and economic development outside of the United States.
- He doesn’t have any hobbies and focuses solely on his work.
- Hastings is a philanthropist and is dedicated to the cause of improving education. He is a long-time supporter of charter schools, and in 2016 set up a $100 million fund for the cause.
"Most entrepreneurial ideas will sound crazy, stupid and uneconomic, and then they'll turn out to be right."