Careers at Netflix
Netflix seeks to expand its streaming subscription business globally, continuing to offer consumers a wider range of content while improving the user experience by maintaining a top quality user interface and increasing device compatibility.
They seek to maintain and build upon their already dominant position in the online streaming market.
Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph had previously worked together developing tools for programmers at Hastings' company Pure Software. When Pure Software was acquired by Rational Software in 1997, Hastings found himself with enough capital to start a new, more ambitious venture. After deciding to create an online film pay-per-rental service, in August 1997, he invested $2.5 million dollars in his idea and Netflix was born, with Randolph as its first CEO.
In April 1998, with a modest 30 employees, the website launched. This being long before streaming of high quality video on the internet was viable, Netflix's business model initially closely resembled that of traditional film rental stores. Films could be ordered by customers online for $0.5 plus postage, while further revenue was made by imposing fines on customers who failed to return the DVD in time. In 1999, they also started to offer a subscription-based service. In early 2000, they switched entirely to a flat fee, unlimited rental model, and got rid of the late fees.
With this business model, Netflix continued to grow its subscriber base, but during the early years no profit was made, and Hastings and Randolph had some concerns about its viability. In 2000, they tried unsuccessfully to sell their company to Blockbuster for $50 million, and in 2001 they were forced to lay off a third of their employees.
At their initial public offering in 2002, Netflix raised $82.5 million, and the following year they were finally a profitable business, taking $6.5 million profit on revenues of $272 million.
In 2004, co-founder Marc Randolph retired from the board.
By 2005, Netflix offered over 35,000 films and was shipping a million DVDs a day. They were also developing what would become a highly sophisticated film recommendation algorithm that would improve user experience and help keep them ahead of their rivals.
In 2007, Netflix began to shift to its current model of online streaming. The now widespread availability of high-speed internet for consumers meant that a new frontier was opening in the field of high-quality online video streaming. The following years witnessed a collapse in DVD sales and rentals, but with their streaming service up and running, Netflix were perfectly poised to take advantage of this trend. Subscriptions increased dramatically and Netflix established itself as the largest players in the online streaming market, beating rivals such as Hulu, Vudu and AmazonVideo in market share.
In March 2011, Netflix started investing heavily in original content. Since then it has purchased, developed and produced in-house numerous films and TV shows.
By autumn 2013, Netflix had 33.1 million subscribers in the US alone, and were also growing in many international markets.
As of 2016, Netflix is available in nearly every country in the world and has changed the way millions of consumers access video media. They also own exclusive rights to countless successful shows and films in addition to having exclusive deals with major and minor film and tv studios the world over. They are therefore hugely influential globally not only in changing the way video media is distributed, but also increasingly in changing the way it is produced.
Business model of Netflix
Netflix has always sought to appeal to a mass-market by providing an affordable, convenient way to consume video media.
Initially, before the advent of online streaming, they sought to take customers away from established brick-and-mortar video rental stores such as Blockbuster by providing the consumer with a more convenient way to choose films with the added benefit that they didn't impose exorbitant late fees.
Since 2007, their target customer base has expanded to include almost everyone in the world with a high-speed internet connection. They have been central players in bringing on-demand premium video streaming to the mass market.
In their initial phase as a postal-rental company their value to consumers hinged on convenience, affordability and range of films.
Brick-and-mortar video rental stores could not compete with the convenience Netflix offered consumers by letting them order rental DVDs in the post. Netflix also had access to millions of more consumers who perhaps lived far away from any rental stores or maybe simply did not want the inconvenience of a trip to a store Unconstrained by shop sizes, Netflix was also able to offer a broader selection of films, stocking tens of thousands of more obscure titles rather than primarily blockbusters.
Since online streaming took off, Netflix's value proposition is slightly different. They still offer customers convenience, range of selection and competitive pricing, but they achieve this differently now.
They offer convenience by having one of the most established and reliable web streaming platforms out there. They offer a wide selection because they have negotiated deals with most of the world's major and minor film studios in addition to developing their own award-winning original content. They continue to offer pricing that is competitive through their subscription-based, “watch-as-much-as-you-like” approach, which differs from competitors such as Apple's streaming services.
They are also appealing for many consumers because unlike some competitors such as Hulu Plus, they do not currently include advertisements for subscribers.
There is nothing inherently non-replicable about Netflix's streaming-business model, and increasingly, as the world of online streaming develops, they find themselves in a market with a lot of strong competition. Their current dominant position in the market is due to their status as pioneering and well-funded early developers in the field, and they continue to offer users access to an unparalleled range of content. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen whether they can maintain this status, or whether disruptive newcomers may eat into their market-share in the future.
Netflix's main channel has always been their website. Initially, customers could mail-order film rentals from it, and the convenience of this online channel that enabled them to usurp their rival Blockbuster's market-share.
Nowadays, subscribers stream video directly from netflix.com, but Netflix also offer a mobile app for subscribers which serves as a key secondary channel.
TV set top boxes provide another channel, as Netflix has done much work to ensure the compatibility of their platform with many main brands.
Netflix maintains its relationships with customers on a subscription fee basis, offering unlimited on-demand streaming in exchange for a monthly fee.
Netflix has created a platform in which the user experience is entirely self-service, and yet still easy to use. The company was an early pioneer of film-recommendation algorithms, which they developed to give the user a better experience.
Over the years Netflix's key activities have shifted from mail-order processing to focus on developing online video player software, content licensing and original content development.
Content providers have always been key partners, as their entire business model is completely dependent on third-party video content. Netflix have negotiated deals with studios the world over to obtain rights for streaming the content they offer.
Another key partner used to be the United States Postal service, who processed the hundreds of millions of rentals that at one point they were posting yearly. This end of the business has since declined, and as streaming took over, internet service providers have replaced them as key distribution partners.
Netflix's original key resource was its massive inventory of DVDs and efficient mail-order processing capabilities, but today, Netflix's key resource is the rights it owns to stream virtual content. It has deals with more content producers than its rivals and is therefore able to offer its users a wider array of content.
The platform itself is also a key asset. They have invested heavily in ensuring it is as user-friendly and reliable as possible while offering a wide range of highly developed features such as algorithmic film recommendation.
An increasingly lucrative resource for Netflix is their original content. They own the exclusive rights to a number of in-house productions that regularly draw audiences of millions.
Netflix's biggest expenditure is paying for the rights to stream its third-party content. Netflix's cost structure is cost-driven, and its business is based on its ability to sell cheap streaming to a mass market. These days, because it is such a large and important channel for content producers, Netflix is often able to negotiate more favorable licensing deals than its competitors, allowing it to offer its services so cheaply.
To provide customer service and to update and innovate its platform, Netflix employs over 3,700 employees, whose salaries constitute another key expenditure.
Since very early on in the company's history, the main revenue source has been the monthly subscription fee its users pay. This has not changed, even as the company's business has switched from mail-order to streaming.
When they were still primarily a mail-order rental company, they used to make additional revenue from advertising on the DVD envelopes they would post out, but these days, advertising is not a revenue stream for Netflix. There has been speculation that they may in future need to introduce some advertising revenue streams in order to increase profits and continue their growth.
info: After earning a MSCS in Artificlal Intelligence from Stanford, Hastings served in the Peace Corp and worked as a high school maths teacher before becoming an entrepreneur. He founded Pure Software in 1991, which he would sell to Rational Software in 1997, providing him with the funds to start Netflix. He is an active philanthropist with an interest in education and serves on the board of many educational organizations in California.
info: After gaining an EMBA in from Claremont University, Tawni Cranz served as HR director at Bausch & Lomb and various senior HR positions at FedExKinkos. Joining Netflix as director in 2007, she is responsible for managing the company's unique corporate culture and promoting talent within it.
info: Jonathan earned an MSC in Economics from LSE, going on to spend over two decades as a Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent. As part of the team of journalists covering the 911 attacks for that paper, he won the Pulitzer Prize. He later held senior corporate roles at the Walt Disney Company, including Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, before joining Netflix in 2011.
info: A graduate of Simon Fraser University, Kelly Bennett went on to a successful career at Warner Bros, where he served as Vice President Interactive, World Wide Marketing, gaining experience in managing huge world-wide marketing campaigns. He joined Netflix in 2012.
info: With a doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Aberdeen, and years of experience as a top-flight software engineer. Neil Hunt has played a key role in designing and optimising the Netflix platform since he joined the company in 1999. Prior to this he worked in computer vision and image processing research, and as a software engineering career with companies such as Pure Atria and Rational Software.
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