Netflix Inc. is a standout in the recession. The DVD-rental company added more subscribers than ever during the first three months of the year. Its stock has more than doubled since October.Netflix Boss Plots Life After The DVD (Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2009)
But Netflix's chief executive officer, Reed Hastings, thinks his core business is doomed. As soon as four years from now, he predicts, the business that generates most of Netflix's revenue today will begin to decline, as DVDs delivered by mail steadily lose ground to movies sent straight over the Internet. So Mr. Hastings, who co-founded the company, is quickly trying to shift Netflix's business -- seeking to make more videos available online and cutting deals with electronics makers so consumers can play those movies on television sets.
His position offers a rare look at how a CEO manages a still-hot business as its time runs out. "Almost no companies succeed at what we're doing," he says.
Companies across the entertainment and technology landscape are struggling with how to profit from Internet video. There's still significant risk that Netflix could falter or lose out to another company that figures out how to do it first. And having picked his battle, the intense former engineer may risk missing other growth opportunities: Mr. Hastings hasn't yet expanded internationally or mounted a direct challenge to kiosks, such as Coinstar Inc.'s Redbox, that let customers pick up $1-a-night DVD rentals.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
23 June 2009
Netflix races against time
Here's a fascinating look at how a company that's red-hot - but whose business model is running out of time - tries to create internal change: