Netflix Turns 21, Co-Founder Reed Hastings Talks Facebook

Netflix quietly turned 21 years old on April 14, and co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings was on a stage in Vancouver, BC, discussing lessons learned from the recent data breach scandal at Facebook.

During a Q&A on the last day of the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference, Hastings, who has been on Facebook’s board of directors since 2011, attempted to downplay recent revelations that the personal data of 87 million Facebook users had been compromised by a third party for profit.

Comparing Facebook and similar interrupting technologies to the rising popularity of the television in the United States in the 1960s, Hastings said Facebook remains sometimes misunderstood, on a steep learning curve, prone to making occasional mistakes.

“[TV] was [once] called a vast wasteland. [It] was going to rock the minds of everybody. And it turns out everybody’s minds were fine. There were some adjustments,” said Hastings, as reported by Recode.

Mistake or not, the fact millions of Facebook users’ data was used by a foreign company to impact the 2016 presidential election, found apologetic founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington, D.C., fielding questions from lawmakers – many of whom appeared unaware how the social media platform worked.

“How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” asked Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

“Senator, we run ads,” responded Zuckerberg after a pause.

Hatch later tweeted that he knew how Facebook’s business model worked and that the real issue remained transparency in the Internet age.

Netflix’s Hastings, who is up for re-election to Facebook’s board, appeared to have Hatch’s sentiment in mind. He said Facebook deserved to be criticized and that senior management was taking the issue of protecting user data seriously.

“So, I think of it as all new technologies have pros and cons. And in social [media] we’re just figuring that out,” Hastings said.

Separately, the CEO said Netflix’s early success revolved around willfully launching a business model with built-in obsolescence and using that sand clock to enhance its revolutionary online by-mail disc rental platform into a streaming video pioneer.

“We were born on DVD and we knew that would be temporary,” Hastings said. “No one thought we’d be mailing discs for the next 100 years.”

Netflix April 16 reports first quarter (ended March 31) fiscal results after the markets close.

 

 

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