Thanks to Covid-19, The mantra for 2020 has to be “Quarantine and Chill”. It’s good that Netflix is here to “entertain people all over the world,” as the company’s co-founder, Reed Hastings, explained at this year’s WIRED25.
Satisfying global entertainment tastes, however, requires an immortal ingenuity, as well as narratives that span both the US and overseas. Netflix’s secret, according to Hastings’ new book No rules rulesis that it values its workers through its work process. It’s this employee-centric attitude that enables a startup to sustain a culture of innovation that, for example, evolves from a 30-strong DVD vendor for rent via email to the world̵
The service features movies and TV shows from Spain, Germany, Japan, Korea, UK, Brazil and other countries, and features lockdowners stories from anywhere for everyone. “If you are a globalist like me,” Hastings said in an interview with Nick Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED, “you want to put the world together and want people to understand, respect, love and appreciate each other. And entertainment is an integral part of how this is done. “And if, in a time of rampant nationalism, culture is the antidote to bigotry, then keep pouring!
However, Hastings’ globalist ethos doesn’t lead you to pursue your travel plans for better recommendations. While the occasional Korean flick shows up when its deep learning algorithm “digs the edge” to expand your artistic horizons, it is not your job to see if you’ve recently traveled to South Korea. The point is diversity, not data abuse.
“Nobody wants a movie like the one you saw last night,” Hastings told Thompson. “We want something that is different, that is fresh.”
Your data, he was also quick to discover, is safe with Netflix. “We don’t buy data. We do not sell any data. We are a complete, isolated island of data. “Your recommendations are based exclusively on your viewing habits in connection with the preferences of anonymized users. However, if the company were funded by advertisers, Netflix – like other Silicon Valley giants – would get an incentive to share your information with its sponsors.
This subscription-based model has largely saved the company from technical setbacks in recent years. Hastings also emphasized, “We’re basically an LA company doing incredible technology.” Two-thirds of its budget goes to creating content in La La Land. So you compete more with Disney + and HBO Max than with Facebook and Google.
For the future of Netflix, they will continue to make great series and movies. However, at some point these media could follow the path of the novel and opera and become a “small art form”. The uncertainty lies in “substitution threats” such as user-generated content from TikTok and YouTube, and advances in AR hardware and video games. However, Netflix isn’t interested in moving to these areas “because we’re not that good. But at the moment, films and series seem to be a central human format. I think we have a pretty long-term thing ahead of us, but at least in principle, movies and TV shows will one day be small. “
Before cinema becomes as rare as Elizabethan theater, Hastings recommends seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in Paul Dano’s “slow and beautiful” art house film Wildlife. Also keep an eye out for upcoming Netflix projects like Obamas, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as a host of other “incredible producers”. So why not stay home and relax? There’s a lot on TV.
Portrait by Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images.
More great WIRED stories