Reed Hastings is an American businessman, technology entrepreneur, innovator, and author. He is best known as the co-founder, chairman of the board, and former chief executive officer of Netflix.
Reed Hastings stepped down as the CEO of Netflix on January 2023.
Netflix is a video-rental company, and an on-demand internet streaming media which gives subscribers access to films, short movies, television shows, documentaries, and original content which cannot be found in other services. Netflix has grown rapidly and is well-known for its over 100 million hours of content, garnering over 100 thousand titles while boasting over 183 million subscribers worldwide.
Reed’s first entrepreneurial idea was to invent the foot mouse; however, his project failed. He claimed in an interview with Business Insider that,
“I have lots of ideas, but not always the best judgment. I was using a keyboard and mouse, and I had this idea that I could use my hands only for the keyboard and use my foot to operate the mouse. It was the mid-1980s. And so, I worked with some designers and came up with the foot mouse. But then we found out that your leg cramps, and the floor is very dirty.”
“After a couple days, it’s disgusting. And so, my first big idea was a total failure. I was just as excited about the foot mouse as I was about Netflix. That’s why, when I briefly tried to be an investor, I was totally awful at it, because I was just so full of hope for every person that came in. I was like, Sure, that might work! I have a very optimistic personality.”
What else is known about him? Read along to learn more details about his career journey and personal life.
Who is Reed Hastings?
He is the former CEO of Netflix, an еntrерrеnеur and philanthropist. Reed was born Wilmot Reed Hastings Jr. on October 08, 1960. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Wilmot Reed Hastings and Joan Amory. His father, Reed Hastings, was a lawyer and worked for President Richard Nixon’s administration in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Not much is known about his mother’s trade.
Reed Hastings attended high school at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Upon graduation, he was enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1983.
He practised for two years before joining Stanford University, where he pursued a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. He graduated in 1988.
Reed Hastings Career
Reed Hastings kicked off his career as soon as he finished his college studies in Mathematics. He joined Peace Corps, a United States government volunteer program that sent its members to volunteer in third-world countries across the world. He was assigned to Swaziland in Africa, where he was tasked to teach mathematics in a local high school. He shared that his experiences in the continent shaped his entrepreneurship skills. Reed taught in Swaziland for two years between 1983 and 1985 before returning to the United States for his Master’s degree.
Reed Hastings was equipped at Stanford and landed his first job in Tech at Adaptive Technology. He worked as a software developer whose role was to create a tool for troubleshooting software. He worked there for one year before he left to start his own tech company.
During his stay at Adaptive Technology, he worked under Audrey Maclean, with whom he shares he learned a valuable lesson in the tech business. Audrey Maclean was the chief executive officer at Adaptive Corp. In October 1991, Reed Hastings quit and started his own tech company, Pure Software, alongside his friends and cofounders, Raymond Peck and Mark. The company majorly focused on the production of software troubleshooting products.
Pure Software witnessed a rapid growth in profits and size in its early years that it went public by 1995, just four years since its inception. However, its rapid growth was also characterized by an increase in human resources, which called for his leadership and managerial skills. Leading his team posed a difficult task bearing in mind that Reed lacked the leadership experience as a chief executive officer. He only had a background in engineering. He admitted that he once approached his board to replace him as he could not dispense his CEO responsibilities.
One year after going public, Pure Software merged with Atria Software to come up with Pure Atria Corporation. The merger would integrate its functions such that Pure Software programs would detect bugs while Atria tools would be in charge of developing complex software.
In 1997, the merged company Pure Atria announced it was acquired by Rational Software. Reed Hastings was then appointed chief technical officer during the transition of the two companies. However, he left the new company soon after the acquisition.
Reed Hastings Netflix
The idea of Netflix was launched in 1997, and it changed the whole scene of entertainment. Previously, viewers were expected to rent each DVD for seven days and return them, failure to which it could attract an extra fee. Reed Hastings admitted to being a victim and had misplaced a cassette of the Apollo 13 movie for six weeks owing $40 to the company. During this time, an idea came to him that he could have a better business model such that one could pay a monthly fee and have a variety to choose from.
However, Reed Hastings, alongside Marc Rudolph, came up with Netflix, which redefined the usual 7-day system to introduce a flat rate movie rental-by-mail. As long as subscribers would pay a monthly fee, they could rent an unlimited number of DVDs. Interestingly, Reed Hastings’ Netflix put together two emerging tech trends; DVDs and websites. The DVDs were smaller and less cumbersome to send by mail compared to VHS cassettes, and with websites, it was easier to order your movies as opposed to using paper catalogues.
Netflix made a great fortune from this innovative venture. The company went public in 2002. In 2007, Netflix launched its online streaming service. Prior, they only functioned as a DVD subscription service only. Netflix premiered its first original television series titled House of Cards in 2013, and it proved to be worthwhile. The television series garnered positive acclaim and was nominated in nine Primetime Emmy Awards. House of Cards bagged three awards from the nominations. He stated that
Reeds explained how the Netflix concept and the term “Nextflix” came to be.
“I was very fortunate to be in internet companies in the 90s, and so I always believed that the Internet speeds would continue to do this, as they have. And so, when we named the company Netflix 25 years ago, that was because we believed in internet television and that possibility. I’d say what I did not see is us doing original content.”
“The concept that we had is sort of blockbuster online, where you have everything from everybody, and then we would be a retailer. And I didn’t understand the value producer, distributor, channels, exclusive content that HBO and others had done. Ted Sarandos, my partner, really figured out that part that if you looked at again, HBO, which was our model for a long time, having exclusive content was essential, and then we ended up pivoting towards that. The first part of that being “House of Cards,” and then getting into building our own content. So, it’s been a really two-part thing one is, yes, internet entertainment and second, doing original content.”
On January 2023, Netflix announced alongside its earnings that Reed Hastings was stepping down from being the CEO of Netflix Inc . He however will remain chairman of the company.
Reed Hastings' Book
Reed Hastings has written a book titled “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention”. The book focuses on how his media streaming company enhances an environment of employee freedom and responsibility.
Reed was asked why he authored a book on corporate culture rather than the future of entertainment and technology during a video talk with TIME from his home in Santa Cruz, California. According to him,
“We don’t want to give away our secrets in entertainment, how we make shows and how we do casting. But corporate-culture stuff is useful to a broad range of nonentertainment firms. This book is really designed to be an antidote to 300 years of industrialization.”
“For 300 years we’ve been factory, factory, factory. That’s influenced our management paradigms to where the boss is top-down, there are no errors, there are lots of processes. That does work well for factories. But for innovative or creative organizations, it’s really much better to go with flavors of creativity and freedom and responsibility. We want to inspire people instead of supervising them.”
Reed Hastings' Leadership Style
Reed Hastings leadership style is a hands-off approach. This offers the employees high levels of autonomy but with elevated expectations and a culture of overly direct feedback. As a result, the employees are empowered to bring out big decisions without running them by their immediate superiors. This has led to a management style at Netflix that hires and keeps only the best employees.
Reed Hastings Personal Life
Who is Reed Hastings’ wife? Reed is married to Patricia Ann Quillin. The couple tied the knot in 1991 and was blessed with two children. Not much is known about Reed Hastings’ children.
What is Reed Hastings' net worth?
As of 2021, Reed Hastings’ net worth is estimated at $6.3 billion according to Celebrity Net Worth. Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $5.3 billion while Bloomberg estimates his net worth to be 6.46 billion. Most of this income’s primary source is from the Netflix stocks.
What does Reed Hastings own? Reed owns 1 per cent of the online streaming service. In addition, he served as a board member of Microsoft Inc. for five years between 2007 and 2012. He was also a director of Facebook Inc and owns shares worth $10 million. He served the board for 8 years, from 2011 to 2019.
Although Reed Hastings remains elusive to the public, it’s no doubt that Netflix has made a huge fortune. The Netflix online streaming service has amassed over $47 billion and is available in North America, several parts of South America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Besides, Reed Hastings started making vast sums of money early in his career. In 1996, during the Pure Atria Corporation acquisition by Rational Software, Reed earned a whopping $750 million.
How much did Reed Hastings invest in Netflix?
The acquisition of Pure Atria Corporation gave Reed Hastings the capital to start the Netflix video rental company. He made a whopping $750 million from the sale. Much of the proceeds went to his startup. Since its inception, the company has doubled its profits every year.
How much does Reed Hastings make a year?
Reed Hastings reportedly earned $43.2 million in 2020. Netflix made huge profits in the previous year. The pay had increased from the past two years. In 2018 and 2019, Reed Hastings earned $38.6 million and $36 million, respectively. Reed Hastings has a beautiful house in San Francisco Bay Area. The house is located in California, United States. He lives together with his wife, Patricia Ann Quillin and his two children.
He іѕ а рhіlаnthrоріѕt аnd ѕеrvеѕ оn thе bоаrd оf ѕеvеrаl nоn-рrоfіt оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ. His most recent work is the MyAgro, a large investment. It’s a West African farming and savings cooperative that helps farmers save money with scratch cards after a harvest. They build up these scratch cards, which are smartphone validated, and when planting time comes, they get fertilizer or high-quality, fantastic seeds and some advice. The project intends to assist 10,000 to a million farmers in Senegal and Mali. He asserts that,
“I was a high school math teacher in southern Africa, which was my first job out of university. I got the chance to travel throughout most countries in Africa and so it’s just kind of close to my heart. I love working to help these farmers, you know, with a little bit of fertilizer and good seeds, you can double the output of a small subsistence farmer so it’s really a profound impact.”
The former CEO uses his fortune to give back to the community, mainly in the field of education. He donated $120 million to an education scholarship fund for African-African students in the year 2020.
The money went to the United Negro College Fund, Morehouse College, and Spelman College in equal amounts. In 2006, Hastings gave $1 million to a proposal in Santa Cruz County to open new charter schools.
Frequently asked questions about Reed Hastings
Below are some frequently asked questions about Reed Hastings.
Q: How much of Netflix does Reed Hastings own?
He owns about 1% shares of the company.
Q: Is Reed Hastings a billionaire?
Reed is worth billions of dollars. According to Celebrity Networth, he is worth $6.3 billion, and Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $5.8 billion.
Q: Why did Reed Hastings create Netflix?
Hastings is commonly quoted as saying that he decided to establish Netflix after being fined $40 at a Blockbuster shop for being late returning a copy of Apollo 13.
Q: What is Reed Hastings’ leadership style?
Reed’s leadership style is simple. He gives employees a lot of freedom but comes at a price: high expectations and a culture of overly frank feedback that straddles the line between critical and constructive. It is an unlimited vacation. No dress code, but just don’t show up naked. No approval is needed for expenses.
Q: What is Reed Hastings known for?
He is most known for co-founding Netflix, a subscription streaming service and production firm based in the United States.
Inspiring quotes for entrepreneurs from Reed Hastings
Below are some inspiring Reed Hastings’ quotes.
- “With failure, you learn one of 99 things to avoid. So they are not that useful. I think it is more useful to learn from others’ failures.”
- “Don’t get distracted by the shiny object [and if a crisis comes], execute on the fundamental.”
- “Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high.”
- “Guessing right is a skill developed over time. Not all smart risks work out, but many of them do.”
- “Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.”
- “I learned the value of focus, I learned it is better to do one product well that two products in a mediocre way.”
- “Be brutally honest about the short term, and optimistic and confident about the long term.”
- “Most entrepreneurial ideas will sound crazy, stupid and uneconomic, and then they’ll turn out to be right.”
- “Be big, fast, and flexible.”
- “On the Internet you get continuous innovation, so every year the streams are a little better.”
- “Stone Age. Bronze Age. Iron Age. We define entire epics of humanity by the technology they use.”
- “The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than trying to control their people.”
Netflix has sprung up to become one of the most successful tech ventures that have combined the internet, technology, and television. Reed Hastings has spearheaded this new journey in entertainment, and his genius has proven to be looking into the future.
- Full name: Wilmot Reed Hastings Jr.
- Gender: Male
- Date of birth: October 8, 1960
- Age: 61 years (as of 2021)
- Zodiac sign: Libra
- Place of birth: Boston, Massachusetts
- Current residence: Santa Cruz, California
- Nationality: American
- Ethnicity: White
- Religion: Christianity
- Sexuality: Straight
- Height in feet: 5’9″
- Height in centimetres: 175
- Weight in pounds: 167
- Weight in kilograms: 76
- Hair color: Grey
- Eye color: Blue
- Mother: Joan Amory Loomis
- Father: Wilmot Reed Hastings
- Marital status: Married
- Spouse: Patricia Quillin
- Children: 2
- University: Bowdoin College (BA) and Stanford University (MS)
- Profession: Businessman