Reed Hastings is a visionary in the tech world. His company Netflix disrupted the movie rental business and changed the way people watch movies and documentaries. What helped Netflix grow was Hastings’ management style, which was not employee friendly.
11 things about Reed Hastings
1. Hastings was born in a well-connected family
Hastings was born in Boston. His dad Wilmot Reed Hastings was an attorney in the Nixon administration and his mother Joan was a socialite but she wanted her children to have a simple lifestyle.
2. He got his bachelor’s degree in math from Bowdoin College and his master’s degree in computer science from Stanford university
He went to Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge. He got his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine. He got his master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University after a stint with the Peace Corps.
3. He served in the Peace Corps, which prepared him to be an entrepreneur
Though he attended Marine Corps officer training, he didn’t complete the training. Instead, he served in the Peace Corps. Between 1983 and 1985, he taught math to students in rural northwest Swaziland. Hastings has said that his time in the Peace Core prepared him to be an entrepreneur.
4. His first job was at Adaptive Technology
At Adaptive Technology, Hastings developed a tool to debug software. He learned from Adaptive CEO Audrey MacLean the importance of focus. It’s better to create one good product than two mediocre products
5. He founded Pure Software in 1991
Like Adaptive, Pure Software developed software that helped with troubleshooting code. Here, Hasting learned to be a manager. He took the company public in 1995. In 1996, Pure software acquired another software company Atria Software and the company changed its name to Pure Atria.
In 1997, Pure Atria acquired the software company Rational Software. Hastings left the company after the merger.
6. He co-founded Netflix with Marc Randolph in 1997
He co-founded Netflix in 1997 with Pure Software colleague Marc Randolph. The company initially focused on movie rental by mail for a flat fee. Inspired by YouTube, he launched a video service at Netflix in 2007.
7. At Netflix, Hastings placed a huge emphasis on culture
At Netflix, Hastings worked on creating a unique culture. Unlike other companies, Netflix does not provide lunches or gyms. Instead, the company is focused on building a team of high performance individuals by providing the tools they need to succeed.
For example, Netflix employees are paid a huge severance to quit if they don’t deliver performance. Hastings has said, “You gotta earn your job every year at Netflix”. A slide from a Netflix internal presentation summed up its philosophy on employee performance – “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package”.
8. He has strong opinions on stock options
Hastings has strong views on how tech companies treat stock options. He feels that stock options paid to employees must be treated as an expense on the company’s financials.
9. Hastings and his wife Patricia Patricia Ann Quillin have focused on social and racial justice
Hastings is married to Patricia Ann Quillin. They have two children. Hastings and Quillin have contributed to political causes – mainly social and racial justice- in recent years. Quillin sits on the board of Chicken & Egg Pictures, which funds female and non-gender-conforming filmmakers. The couple’s political spending has heavily skewed towards the Democratic party.
10. He sat on the board of Facebook and Microsoft
Between 2011 and 2019, he sat on the board of Facebook (Meta). He was on the board of Microsoft from 2007 to 2012.
11. He is a strong supporter of charter schools
Hastings is a big proponent of charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are not subjected to the regulations that apply to other public schools but charter schools are accountable to achieve certain results. Hastings is opposed to electing school board officials.