Since its early days as an Internet DVD distribution network in 1997, Reed Hastings has been at the helm of Netflix. Now, a quarter of a century later and with 230 million customers, the founder of the company leaves the bow of the ship to take a more discreet position and become CEO.
His position is now held by two co-CEOs, Ted Sarandos (who was already since 2020) and Greg Peters, the two big names who in recent years have helped Hastings turn Netflix into the behemoth of streaming what is now. Before them, both face a series of challenges at a difficult time for the company: the platform has to face the effects of two radical decisions, the opening of a plan with ads and the removal of shared accounts, which may lead to a reaction Negative from many customers.
At the moment we do not know if Hastings has data on the first reaction to these two decisions that have led him to go into the background, but we do know who his two successors are as co-CEOs. Possibly one of them ends up directing Netflix alone. For now, these are their profiles.
Ted Sarandos: all because of the algorithm
Netflix’s Head of Content (he will retain the position although he is also co-CEO) since 2000 he has overseen the creation of original series and movies on the platform. In other words, he is directly responsible for the launch of highly successful series on Netflix such as ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Dark’, the episodes for the platform ‘La casa de papel’ and movies like ‘Roma’. His professional career began in the world of film distribution in home formats, such as VHS and DVD.
Without him, Netflix would not have taken a decisive step in its own production, especially after the success of ‘House of Cards’ in 2011. Sarandos is also the person responsible for imposing the format that the streaming industry now follows when it comes to proposing series: there are no longer pilot episodes, but complete seasons are commissioned. A more risky but also more coherent format, and one that moves away from traditional linear television, where the series went ahead based on the reception of an initial pilot. Derived from this, Sarandos has imposed on Netflix the idea that the real power of Netflix is in the subscriber numbers, not in the audience. This perspective may partially change now that the platform is also going to have an ad-supported option.
Sarandos’s great contribution to Netflix has been to give prominence to the personalization of the platform according to the tastes of the viewer and not according to a grid that is imposed from the management, something for which the algorithm becomes an essential tool. Netflix is what it is in large part thanks to Ted Sarandos, and his contribution to the broader streaming landscape with his tenure, which now continues without Hastings, has been essential.
Greg Peters: The Shadow Surprise
The name of Peters is much less well known and mediatic than that of Sarandos. Nevertheless, some of the latest and most famous steps that the company has taken have been under his aegisa. The now co-CEO was until now COO (director of operations, in the position since 2008) and his has been both Netflix’s determined foray into the world of video games and the controversial new option of ad-supported subscription.
But not only that: Peters has also been responsible for functions such as product management, international development and Netflix’s partnerships with electronics, internet and multi-channel video distributors. His is also, as we verified when we interviewed him in 2017 (in the midst of the war with Movistar), the entire technical, design and experiential section of Netflix. Peters studied physics and astronomy at Yale, which gives him a very different preparation than Sarandos, who has always developed a career in the audiovisual world.
It is perhaps this diversity in the profiles of the two managers (one more focused on content, the other on support and its possibilities) which means that, if one of them ends up being named Netflix’s sole CEO, they both guide the platform in very different directions. Or on the contrary, their differences may make them complementary and function as two heads for the same position. In any case, it is clear that the post-Hastings era is beginning, a period of continuity but one that can give big surprises.
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