Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings Photo

Reed Hastings is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Netflix. He is also on the board of the social networking website Facebook and several non-profit organizations.

Hastings was born on 8th October 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1978 from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge. After high school he sold vacuum cleaners door to door for almost a year. He attended Bowdin College where he majored in mathematics and gained the Smyth Prize and Hammond Prize in 1981 and 1983. He joined the Peace Corps for some time where he built on his risk-taking spirit. After his return from the Peace Corps he enrolled into Stanford University and graduated with a master degree in computer science in 1988.

Hastings got his first job at Adaptive Technology which he left in 1991 to start his own company, Pure Software that unexpectedly started growing pretty rapidly.  Because of his lack of management, it became quite challenging for him to handle things. The growing number of employees startled him and he asked the board to replace him but the board refused to do so. According to Hastings the refusal was what helped him become a better businessman. In 1996 his company merged with Atria Software and the next year Pure Atria was acquired by Rational Software and Hastings was appointed the Chief Technical Officer of both companies. However due to the increasing bureaucracy Hastings decided to leave the company.

Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix with Marc Randolph in 1998. When he started the company he was not sure whether it would even have any customers or not, whether customers would get the idea of making online queues. Another concern that he had was growth issues. He wanted to create an entertainment company but in a way that it would not lose its entrepreneurial spirit along the way. Netflix grew rapidly and its new management techniques got a lot of attention. The employees were paid higher salaries than in the market. Hastings introduced many new policies that were previously not implemented anywhere else. These included a big severance package to average employees who were let go and ending sick and vacation times.

Hastings is a big believer in internet television. So in 2007 he started streaming movies and TV shows to the users’ laptops and computers. In 2011 Hastings made some decisions which led to customer reduction, cancellation of orders, less subscribers and decrease in stock prices. Two months later the announcement of spinning off Netflix’s famous DVD business into a new name resulted in further customer confusion. Hastings was asked to resign but he refused on the grounds that he had founded the company and it was the first time in 12 years that there it was facing problems.

Hastings joined Microsoft’s board of directors in March 2007. He is a very active educational philanthropist. He donated one million dollars to Beacon Education Network to create new charter schools. He is also a member of a political network of Businessmen and Executives called Technology Network. Reed Hastings currently resides in San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.