"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Monday, November 7, 2016

Disruption, Culture, People & Leadership, Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix

Organised by National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) U-Creative.

Reed relates how travel and living outside the US has changed him. He said that our school system is structured and success within a very structured system may not translate to success outside.

In the world of business, most entrepreneurs fail, but when  a few among the many succeed, they get to be invited to speak in panels like this.

He related that when he was in Pure, a software company he founded, he was promoted beyond as a programmer into a manager responsible for more and more people and also doing sales. Both of which he didn't particularly enjoy as the company was growing bigger and people were following rules more than they were being creative. He felt that he wasn't doing well and wanted to quit as he couldn't forgive himself for doing badly. Eventually he did quit, though the management was reluctant to let him go.

The sales in Pure doubled every year, but was bought over by their largest competitor. It was not fun any more. The creative people got less interested. Business became rigid. This is quite common among many companies. And then they have little ability to adapt and were just following the rules. Design companies should be  more flexible to changes.

In Netflix, there are no policies for somethings, but at the same time they are careful not to let things go crazy. So we need high performance individuals. The company should Inspire people instead of merely managing them.

In the industrial manufacturing economy, it thrives by reducing the variables. Too many businesses are influenced by this aspect of the industrial economy.

Employees want to help companies by not making mistakes. This stifles. Instead, we think of the team more like a sports team. We endeavour to hire the best person in every role. It is about performance and effectiveness, not just longevity or just adequate performance

Netflix does not use the bell curve on staff, nor has a policy to cut x number of people every year. It all depends on the market. If there are high performance individuals to be won over, you either pay and have the player in the team, or lose the player.

However, this practice does not cut across the whole company. For instance, customer support workers are structured and are based on different considerations from creative professionals. The former are measured by their reliability.

Question: It appears that the OTT space is now dominated by the giants. If you were to invest in a startup in this space, which one would they be?

At anyone time it would appear that the giants dominate. Look at the IT industry. At one time Microsoft dominated everything.

What are the biggest challengers?
88 million subscribers may seem very big in Netflix, but it is very small compared to the other players like Youtube or Facebook, that have subscribers running into billions.

We advertised on Youtube (a competitor).

Data analytics was something affordable only to the big companies previously, but now, it is accessible to small companies as well. How will Netflix adjust to this levelling of the playing field?

Data Analytics enables mass customisation, such that shows that are not interesting to you don't get promoted to you.  So virtually, we look consistently good to the customer.  Netflix is working towards making all content available to everybody.

How do you decide what gets made?
We use data analytics where we should. Picking content, however, is a creative leap.

Consumption data. How different globally?
A broad mix of taste in every culture. They are not culture dependent.

For more articles about how technology is influencing the future of the arts, click here.

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