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When Marc’s marketing company was taken over, he met Reed Hasting in the new company. The pair car-pooled and chatted over new business ideas. At the same time, the DVD was coming to market and they realised the potential for a mail-order business. Netflix grew rapidly, and with the advent of broadband and the move to streaming changed into one of the most admired, pioneering businesses in the world. Marc, Nexflix’s first CEO, recounts the story.
Marc Randolph is an entrepreneur, investor and advisor, who has founded half a dozen companies, the best known of which is Netflix. He also served as its founding CEO.
Originally working in direct marketing, Marc quickly embraced technology as a means to market better, understand consumers more accurately, and provide the right information to those most receptive. He established a company which was taken over by a company that also acquired Reed Hasting’s business. The two colleagues lived near to each other and car pooled. On their daily commute their brainstormed ideas, with Marc spending the day researching the viability of their concepts.
The idea of sending VHS tapes of films by post was quickly dismissed, but then the new DVD format was announced. Whilst it wasn’t readily available at the time, the pair experimented by sending a CD in the post. It arrived at Reed’s house a day later in perfect condition and Netflix was born.
With a new way to enable people to browse and select films to rent, access to the internet and an efficient postal service meant Netflix reinvented a business dominated by video stores. On starting out, Netflix had a catalogue of 925 titles (most of which were old). Within seven years they’d shipped 1 million DVDs and had deals with most of the major studios. Two years after that, they’d shipped a billion discs. With the spread of domestic high-speed broadband the company adapted, embracing streaming and moving with consumers’ demands and the nature of the technology.
As in his book That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea, Marc tells the Netflix story and highlights the lessons for entrepreneurs and businesses trying to keep up with disruption. He recounts how they went though many ideas and tests of business models before getting it right. Now working with a range of startups covering everything from clothing to tool hire to education, Marc also considers broader lessons from a career in Silicon Valley.
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