In 1997 entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph forever changed the way the world would indulge in entertainment.
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Netflix, the subscription-based movie-rental service turned mega streaming platform with a treasure trove of shows, movies and original series, has since found its way into hundreds of millions of households around the world.
Before creating one of the major players in the streaming industry, now worth over $193 billion, Hastings studied mathematics at Bowdoin College in Maine. Upon graduating in 1983, Hastings entered the U.S. Marine Corps and then served with the Peace Corps where he spent his time teaching math in Swaziland. By 1988, he received his master's degree in computer science at Stanford University, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Shortly thereafter, his career as a software developer had begun. By 1991 he founded Pure Software, later called Pure Atria Corporation, which he sold six years later. His idea for Netflix came shortly after selling the company.
The idea first came to him in 1997 after he was charged a late fee when returning overdue videocassette movie rentals. At the time, DVDs were just beginning to hit the market, however, the entrepreneur knew they would travel well within the mail.
By 1998, Hastings and his soon-to-be Netflix co-founder, Marc Randolph, began selling mail-order DVDs. Before becoming the streaming behemoth that it is today, Netflix was a subscription service for mail-ordered DVDs where subscribers could rent movies for a seven-day period, mail them back and receive another DVD in return.
Randolph graduated from Hamilton College in 1980 before beginning a four-decade-long career as an entrepreneur. Today he bills himself as a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, adviser and investor, according to his about page on MarcRandolph.com. Randolph laid much of the groundwork for the Netflix before handing the reins as CEO over to Hastings in 1999, according to his website. Although he stepped down as CEO, he remained on the company's board of directors until retiring from the company in 2003.
Aside from Netflix, Randolph founded or co-founded six other startups throughout his career in addition to supporting other entrepreneurs and helping to seed dozens of tech ventures. He also sits on the board for companies including Chubbies Shorts, Augment Technologies, the environmental advocacy group 1% For The Planet and the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Both Randolph and Hastings now reside in Santa Cruz, California. While Hastings continues his role sitting at the helm of the media giant, Randolph speaks at industry events, sales meetings and conferences all over the world in venues ranging from 10,000- seat auditoriums to corporate board rooms.