Reed Hastings is an American entrepreneur who co-founded Netflix, a media rental service, which provides on-demand internet streaming media available to viewers in several countries all over the world. Established in 1997 as a single rental service, the web-based mail-order service is today available in nations across the globe, and a huge share of the credit for its success goes to its highly innovative co-founder Hastings who believes that taking calculated risks is the key to entrepreneurial success. Born as the son of a prominent attorney in Boston, he grew up to be a bright and adventurous young man. He studied mathematics at Bowdoin College and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Overcome by a sense of both service and adventure, he joined the Peace Corps and travelled to Swaziland where he taught high school mathematics for two years. Returning home, he furthered his education and by the time of his graduation he knew that he would one day start his own business. His first company was Pure Software which was later merged with another business and sold off. Then he teamed up with Marc Randolph to co-found Netflix which operated on a concept novel at that time. His risk taking paid off and Netflix went on to become a highly successful venture with millions of subscribers from all over the globe
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Wilmot Reed Hastings, Jr. on October 8, 1960, in Boston, Massachusetts to Joan Amory and Wilmot Reed Hastings. His father was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Reed graduated from a private school in Cambridge following which he joined the Bowdoin College where he studied mathematics. He also served in the Marine Corps officer training through their Platoon Leader Class in 1981.
He graduated in 1983 and joined the Peace Corps—a volunteer program run by the United States government which sends volunteers to developing nations of the world. He went to Swaziland and taught high school mathematics from 1983 to 1985. He later stated that his experiences in Africa helped hone his entrepreneurial skills and risk taking abilities.
He joined the Stanford University upon returning from the Peace Corps and earned his Master's degree in computer science in 1988.
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He embarked on a career as a software developer and accepted a job at Adaptive Technology. There he worked under Audrey MacLean, the CEO at that time, from whom he learned the value of focus. He quit this job in 1991.
Reed Hastings was an entrepreneur at heart and had always wanted to start his own company. Along with Raymond Peck and Mark Box, he formed his first company, Pure Software in October 1991. The company, which produced products to troubleshoot software, grew rapidly over the ensuing years.
However, the growing success of the company proved to be a challenge for Hastings as he realized that he was not prepared to manage such a rapidly growing company. An engineer by profession, he found the responsibilities of being the CEO quite daunting.
The company went public in 1995 and Pure Software merged with Atria to form Pure Atria Corporation in 1996. However, some unforeseen issues cropped up after the merger and the combined company, Pure Atria, was acquired by Rational Software in 1997.
Reed Hastings considered his experience with Pure Software to be a vital lesson in his entrepreneurial career. He then collaborated with Marc Randolph to co-found Netflix in 1997. Netflix was conceived as a media rental service which offered flat rate rental-by-mail to customers in the United States.
By 1998 Netflix had started mail-order DVD operations. Initially customers were allowed to rent each DVD for a seven-day period. This system was changed in 1999—now subscribers could pay a set monthly fee to rent an unlimited number of DVDs.
The company grew steadily over the years, and Hastings became known for the innovative management strategies he implemented in Netflix’s administration. He offered extraordinarily high packages to employees in order to attract the best talents and was also quick to fire those who were not putting in their best.
He employed aggressive expansion strategies and expanded Netflix through movie studio partnerships and marketing campaigns that emphasized the company’s catalog of indie films, documentaries, and other movies not easily available through other services. Netflix shipped its billionth DVD in 2007 and today it has more than 65 million subscribers.
He joined the board of Microsoft in 2007 and served there until 2012. He is also a director of the board of Facebook since June 2011.
Reed Hastings is the co-founder of Netflix, a media rental service based on his innovative ideas. The company’s services are available all over North America, several parts of Europe and also in Australia, South America, and New Zealand. As of July 2015, Netflix reported a subscriber count in excess of 65 million.
Awards & Achievements
The Henry Crown Leadership Award was presented to Reed Hastings in 2014. Each year the award is given to an outstanding leader whose achievements reflect the high standards of honor, integrity, industry, and philanthropy that characterized the life and career of industrialist and philanthropist Henry Crown.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Patrician Ann Quillin and has two children.
Hastings is active in educational philanthropy and is a strong advocate for education reform through charter schools. In 2006, he donated $1 million in startup funds to Beacon Education Network to open up new charter schools in Santa Cruz County.
As of August 2015, Reed Hastings has a net worth of US $1.65 billion.