Image source: Netflix.
Fresh off an earnings-powered 35% share price jump in April, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took the stage at the re:publica 15 media conference in Berlin last week.
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"He wants to do some points he's never done before -- lucky us!" said event host Alina Fichter. Hastings did not disappoint.
Here are five of the freshest insights Hastings shared on that German stage. For those playing along at home, you can find the entire talk embedded at the end of this article.
Let's start on a lighthearted note.
Content rumors An audience member wanted a scoop on one of the many content production rumors that always surround Netflix. In response, Hastings gently reminded everyone that the rumor mill shouldn't be trusted:
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, explaining his company's recent history at the re: publica 15 conference. Image source: re: publica 15.
Lessons learned from Qwikster Hastings brought up the Qwikster debacle of 2011, using the event to explain how Netflix likes to learn from its mistakes.
Later on, the subject of risk came up again.
Hastings pointed to the upcoming Sense8 series by the Wachowski siblings and last fall's BoJack Horseman as examples of risky but innovative shows. One is a mind-bending thriller in a format never tried before; the other adds adult humor to a seemingly harmless cartoon, resulting in another new style that can't follow in the footsteps of any proven success stories.
Hastings wants to take more of these leap-in-the-dark chances -- and maybe he's not trying hard enough yet:
House of Cards: the one that nearly got away Almost synonymous with Netflix originals, it's easy to take Kevin Spacey vehicle House of Cards for granted. But Hastings recalls the nerves in the room before this expensive, unproven experiment was nailed down.
The political drama and its six Emmy awards very nearly slipped through Hastings' fingers. This big winner wasn't always a sure thing:
Keeping it simple The battle-tested KISS principle holds a ton of power at the Netflix headquarters.
The company is ripping a cherished page out of the Appleplaybook. Netflix won't try to do everything for everybody, with potentially mediocre results. Instead, Hastings chooses to focus on doing a few things very well. The strategy has worked wonders for Apple over the past 15 years, and Netflix is following the same path more strictly than you might think.
In short, excellence comes from keeping a tight focus, turning down good ideas because they wouldn't be great. That has to be a tough lesson to learn.
Reed Hastings, left, and Alina Fichter, right, discussing Netflilx's business at the re: publica 15 conference. Image source: re: publica 15.
Hastings' vision for the next 20 years of TV history That brings us to the fifth and final point on today's schedule: Where Reed Hastings sees the TV industry moving over the next couple of decades.
This is "just a little preview" of the Netflix CEO's vision, but still meaty enough for a big bite. I'll even divide it into two parts, to help with digestion:
In Hastings' view, scheduled programming is slowly going away in favor of on-demand options. Netflix will try to lead the charge, but still leaves plenty of room for other specialists to grab certain niche markets.
The hardware will get better, faster, cheaper. If you thought the last decade was interesting, what with the smartphone boom and digital video explosion, you won't believe the next 10 years. Incredibly fast broadband everywhere, delivering content in formats we have yet to dream of. Video entertainment is about to get way more entertaining.
And here's how:
Now, I understand if you want to toss a whole bag of salt on some of these claims. In particular, of course Hastings sees all social interaction moving online. As a Facebook director since 2011, he almost has to hold that view. Hastings may be right about it, and he may be wrong. But the larger point still stands, that video entertainment is becoming more personal as it moves deeper into online media.
Let's be clear: I had to whittle my original list of nearly 20 compelling takeaways down to these five gems, leaving a ton of important angles uncovered. So if you still want more when we've covered the top five points together, feel free to dive right into the video.
The article 5 Things Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Wants You to Know originally appeared on Fool.com.
Anders Bylund owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. The Motley Fool also owns shares of Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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