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Mike K., over at Hacking Netflix, had the opportunity to sit down with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last week and has put the Q A online. In the short interview, Hastings praises the folks at Blockbuster for their honesty, creativity and very high integri... [Read More]

Comments

Dave Zatz

Great job! Thanks to Hacking Netflix and Reed Hastings for communicating this with us.

I still think they should add games and do away with throttling. ;)

Aron

Well done, Mike. I'm sure many of the readers will be happy that the questions weren't all softballs. Hastings went into more detail on some things, such as Saturday delivery, than I have seen anywhere else.

Re: Sith Lord. He's right about it being an Overstock CEO reference to illegal Wall Street trading behavior. Some of the same 'evidence' also applies to Netflix. He appears to be only somewhat informed on the topic. Or maybe, he just wants to appear that way [fade in conspiracy music].

Jg

Nice interview. I would have liked a little more elaboration on the throttling question -- it wasn't as clear a response as I'd hoped for -- but that's to be expected, I guess.

You didn't ask my question: what was it like growing up with a name like Reed Hastings?

mikek

Sorry -- I only had 15 minutes with Reed Hastings for the interview (it was the only time both of our schedules were free), so I had to leave a few questions out.

I thought the Sith Lord question was silly, but something to throw into the mix. Next time assume that I don't know about esoteric stock references. ;-)

- Mike K.

Aron

btw, talk about a backhand complement:

'Yeah - back when they decided to partner with ENRON and the partnership completely FAILED, they wrote it off as a LOSS. At least they're honest!'

There's something almost deliberately contradictory about calling Blockbuster honest and with high integrity, willing to admit failed ventures and move on, and then suing the pants off them.

"Friends, Investors, Customers... I come not to bury Blockbuster, but to praise it.."

Jes

Aww shucks. My question about Netflix giving us better queue organization abilities, didn't make it. I could swear you wished for that once here too, Mike? I could be crazy.

I understand you didn't have long with him, though. I think you did a great job!

Personally, I feel a bit better now about Netflix, after this interview from Reed.

Jes

Should also mention, that I think it was nice of Reed to grant the interview. He didn't have to do so at all.

Thanks, Reed!

corey3rd

It was nice to see Reed completely duck the "magic number" before they start messing with your turnaround.

C Nyze

Good interview and I agree with Jes, it was awesome that Reed even did the interview! The only question that I wanted to hear that was missed was "What is in your queue?" ... that would have been a fun one for him I think.

storm72

Blockbuster doesn't process and ship on weekends anymore. The last time they sent me anything on a Saturday was back in March.

They specifically state in their FAQ that they ship Monday-Friday.

http://tinyurl.com/h5bg8

noe638

I can't believe that he called Blockbuster creative and honest...they were getting the tar knocked out of them by Netflix and their response was to clone them. Do you accuse honest people of stealing your ideas?

Sage advice to tell his employees to remember that this site is "over-represented with highly passionate people". Most of my casual Netflix friends probably watch 4-8 movies a month, 100% absolutely love the service, and don't even know what throttling is.

CJ

Interesting Interview. Hastings is kind of vague stating the obvious in some answers:

The business model, which requires a full day USPS availability, wouldn't work on Saturday.

The answer on "smoothing"/"Throttling" is hilarious - of course the allocation algorithm to keep both low and high turnover customers as customers is a trade secret.

You always want to praise your competition as you bury them - it's not nice to throw barbs at a funeral.

And I'd bet NetFlix places more credence on this blog than Hastings lets on in his answer to if he reads Hacking Netflix.

NetflixShill

"over-represented with highly passionate people"

He's saying the people who can't see through his fraudulent lies are not passionate. What is wrong with being passionate about movies, or the companies we rent them from? He would rather we just say "who cares?", and conform to whatever his expectations are, I suppose.

Netflix can make us happy, simply by telling the truth. Stop claiming "unlimited" and all variations. A universal limit of 4-5 cycles per month (12-15 DVDs on 3-out), maybe with roll-over for light users. Very few get more than that, so it's fair to say that IS their limit. NF creates bad PR by trying to profit from the "unlimited" claim, which they only honor for a few rare people.

NetflixShill

"Why don't you work on Saturdays? It seems to be such a competitive advantage for Blockbuster, and everybodys interested in getting more movies… Is it cost-prohibitive?"

Blockbuster hasn't sent me a DVD on Saturday since January. They have received DVDs that arrived Saturday, until recently. That might now be coming to an end, as well. Maybe they work Saturdays for new/light users, but they aren't doing it for me now. Anyone else?

NetflixShill

"Blockbuster doesn't process and ship on weekends anymore."
"They specifically state in their FAQ that they ship Monday-Friday."

Saying they only SHIP Monday-Friday does not mean they only PROCESS Monday-Friday. Until recently, they have received on Saturday. If they have stopped doing that, it's still too soon to say. They missed my last Fri return, but that might just be a postal glitch.

Super-Bat-Man

chill out Netflix Shill, he's just saying to his people don't worry too much, because there are millions of others who love the service. and he has a great reson for not changing the "unlimited" limit - IT'S WORKING! and his company is growing.

it amazes me that you post negative comments on here regularly, go do something else that makes you happy. you're so negative. I hope you're not this miserable around your friends and family.

Super-Bat-Man

and speak for yourself I wouldn't be happy if they set a limit at 12-15 cause I've been a member for a little over a year and I get 18-21 on the 3-out plan. i live near a big city, and don't rent anime or new releases.

they can lie all they want at this point, I know, hell, WE ALL KNOW BY NOW what each of us is going to get monthly. it's different for everybody depending on where you live and what you choose.

deal with it, they are not changing it because you complain

Aron

I really wish we had asked what Reed thought about a YouTube-like component to their VOD solution. While YouTube is enormously successful in terms of total usage it may not actually be compatible with a commercial interest. That is, it may be very difficult to make any money off of it. And on top of that, there is a large amount of potential legal copyright violation and policing issues.

YouTube content is the very long end of the long tail, but people are gonna be loathe to pay much for dancing teenagers singing Kelly Clarkson.

Mike, when you send Reed your thank-you note, you should attempt to negotiate a second round. ;)

storm72

I guess you could infer that BB may process, but not ship on Saturdays. My experience is that movies I have returned that should arrive on Saturday (mailed on a Thursday) are not checked back in until Monday. I think this is a pretty good indication that my BB DC is not processing on Saturdays.

RAYMOND KNIGHT

I have to say that the answers to the question of throttling and Saturday delivery were non-answers. At least with the throttling question, he answered a question that wasn't even asked. Mr. Hastings is good, to say the least. He ought to run for Political office. I thought it was funny that he talked about openness when the only reason he changed the terms of service was because he was sued and forced to admit at least part of their practices. They still haven't completely admitted throttling and that it happens automatically with most users not just heavy users. The only group of customers it doesn't happen to is the occassional user. Anybody above 13 DVDs a month is throttled. As far as Saturday goes it is a question of money nothing more nothing less. More days open means more DVDs sent out and more cost to NETFLIX. Saturday processing is an internal decision it has nothing to do with the UPS.

thattherepaul

Yeah, I say "over-represented by highly passionate people" is a good call. Some of the frequent posters here seem to perpetually teeter on the brink of hysteria. A great interview. Aron's question on including movie writer information being well received, maybe we can look forward to seeing that added to the Netflix site, and in turn, begin selecting movies for their writing, not their glitz.

Toffer Peak

Raymond - his no delivery on Saturdays answer actually made perfect sense and he was quite honest about the truth. I have often thought that they should add Saturday delivery but his answer certainly cleared up some of my thoughts on the issue.

The fact is because of they way 5 day shifts work in the US (that probably >90% of people work on), if they added Saturday processing the number of rentals would increase at most 20% but the costs would increase more than 20%. therefore even if you got more rentals per month your cost per DVD would go up. if you want to get more DVDs per month the more cost effective method is to increase your monthly plan limit, not to add Saturday delivery.

Aron

"over-represented by highly passionate people"

You'd have to be crazy not to agree with this delicately phrased description. I don't think average Joe Blow is looking for "Hiyarazaki's magic mushroom vol 2: Wide Screen director's cut with extra color magic, european edition" or prefers to watch movies with headphones on a computer screen.

NetflixShill

"speak for yourself I wouldn't be happy if they set a limit at 12-15 cause I've been a member for a little over a year and I get 18-21 on the 3-out plan."

Of course you wouldn't be happy, because you are gaming the system. You're also way above the norm. I've never gotten more than 16 per month, and mostly just 12-14. Why should you get more than me? Is your money worth more?

"i live near a big city, and don't rent anime or new releases."

I live IN a big city and don't rent anime or new releases. I still never got as many as you claim to get. The question you still can not answer is why YOU should get more than others who pay the same money. I understand that you don't want to get less than you are getting, but your own greed and selfishness isn't a reason why NFLX should discriminate against other users and give you priority.

NetflixShill

"or prefers to watch movies with headphones on a computer screen."

I don't even own a TV set. When my old unit had to be de-gaussed monthly, I ditched it. I also canceled cable to save $$$. I prefer to join 3 DVD services than pay $50 a month for basic cable (no movies), or $100+ for a complete line-up. Cable and satellite are a rip-off. I've never seen a TV set look half as good as my LCD monitor. I've tried many, and they were all crap - poor black levels, soft, washed out, and dull. Using component and HDMI cables, it still looked inferior.

Speakers can not compare with the frequency range and fidelity of good headphones. Best speakers may have a 20-20,000 Hz range with lots of distortion at both ends. Headphones can have a 5-30,000 Hz range (or more). You obviously aren't an audiophile if you don't acknowledge the superior quality headphones provide. I hear the cut-off, and cross-over with ordinary speakers that is absent on my high-end cans ($200+). I prefer them, since they are less harsh and distorted, and they produce the full range of DVD. Speakers can not even reproduce CDs faithfully.

Super-Bat-Man

"I've never gotten more than 16 per month, and mostly just 12-14. Why should you get more than me? Is your money worth more?"

WHY SHOULDN'T I GET MORE THAN YOU? you are already getting the amount that you want Netflix to cap it off at. So stop complaining! If I can get more than that don't complain that someone is getting better service and they should be brought down. Complain that someone is getting better service and that you should be getting the same.

Do you complain at work that other people make more than you so they should make less?

I think that answers all of your questions but just in case... I should get more than you because I am quick with my returns maybe just maybe the post office is better around here and that's just how netflix works. Deal with it and stop complaining that other people should be brought down just because of you. THAT is selfish!

jon

I can't help but wonder if Netflix is just persecuting you, Shill. Just singling you out. What a mean company to only let you see 12-14 movies a month for $18 with only the slightest effort on your part to get off your butt and put the disc in the mail.

Seriously, dude, get a grip. If you don't like the service then unsubscribe. Meanwhile the rest of us will just go on getting our discs (whatever quantity we are each receiving) and be satisfied with the service.

The point isn't whether or not someone else is getting a better deal than me. The question is if someone else can give me a better deal. So far I haven't found one (to me "better deal" means more than just counting pennies), so I stick with Netflix.

No longer addressing Shill specifically:

Why do some people choose to be unhappy? Why do some people insist on comparing their lives to everyone around them? Why is it so difficult for some people to be content? Why are some people apparently unable to mature beyond the juvenile "it's not fair!" stage of development?

Why do I keep saying "why" and "some people"?

Super-Bat-Man: I couldn't have put it better myself. Though I did try...

Jerry Aiello

I have been a Netflix customer for more than 4 years. Over 1 month ago I pointed out to their customer service personnel that someone had used my credit card to subscribe to Netflix: as a result, I canceled that credit card. When I called, I gave a new card number which was verified. At that time for some reason my account was placed "on hold", but I was not told that a problem existed. When in frustration over not receiving a movie for 3 weeks, I called to find out what the problem was, customer service found that the account had a "hold". I managed to get a supervisor on the phone who made the "hold" go away temporarily. It is back on, but again I was not told it was back on, or what was the cause of the problem. I had to take the initiative to call the friendly, but impotent, customer service people to get the problem fixed. It is still not fixed. No one knows why it is not fixed. Now here is my issue: do I cancel my account and lose what has been a reasonably good Netflix experience? Or do I tough it out? From a corporate point of view I would be very worried that there are more customers just like me who are having problems that cannot be quickly resolved and are forced out of frustration to resort to rants to the "IR" email, or post to BLOGS with bad public relations implications, or just close up shop. We all know the old adage: when a customer is unhappy, he will tell 10 of his friends that he is unhappy. The bad publicity grows exponentially. I own Netflix in several mutual funds. It seems to be a pretty poor investment choice. I suggest that someone at the top of the chain look into this problem and get it fixed. Thank you.

NetflixSucks

THE PEOPLE AT NETFLIX ARE A BUNCH OF DEVIOUS LIARS. THIS CALCUATED BLUNDER MADE NETFLIX MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THE SO-CALLED GLITCH WAS MORE LIKE A 5 DAY GLITCH. IT'S THE OLD MUSHROOM THEORY: "KEEP THEM IN THE DARK AND FEED THEM PLENTY OF SHIT."

piles problem

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

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