Back in 1997, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph created Netflix to be an alternative to brick-and-mortar video rental stores like Blockbuster, Family Video, and Hollywood Video. They eventually put Blockbuster out of business (and even made a sitcom about the store only to cancel the series, in a funny-but-sad real-life meta-joke), offering movies by mail. Once they added a streaming component to the mix, removing the need to order discs or send them back and allowing viewers to watch hundreds of movies from the comfort of their couches, Netflix rocketed to become the first major movie streaming service. Randolph left the company in 2002 and credited Hastings with much of its success, and Hastings has been the guiding hand behind every big Netflix decision since. He has shaped the corporate culture at the company, and it’s strange to think of Netflix without him at the helm.
There has been a lot of bad news out of Netflix-land in the past year. Last January, the streamer lost $50 billion in value overnight, then the streamer’s massive money woes led them to gut their animation department and cancel loads of shows. Oh, and they were sued by their investors last May for not being honest about subscriber growth. Netflix may still be a very popular streamer with some must-see originals like “Stranger Things,” but Hastings’ exit doesn’t signal that things are going to improve for them any time soon. “Netflix and chill” could become “Tubi and chill” before you know it. Just look at what happened to Blockbuster.