There’s a grim reality behind the magical wafting of DVDs to our mailboxes, according to this lively, canny business potboiler. Freelance journalist Keating tries to style the saga of online movie-rental behemoth Netflix as a Silicon Valley romance wherein subversive geeks conjure “a shared dream of a consumer-oriented company that reflected their ideals,” one where “marketing and technology waltz in a harmony.” But that conceit fizzles when Reed Hastings, a cyborg with a head full of optimization algorithms but no “empathy gene,” takes over as CEO and institutes “an uncomfortable level of process and formality that withered the little company’s spontaneous creativity.” His corporate despotism works out well, since renting movies online, Keating demonstrates, is just dog-eat-dog commodity retailing that hinges on ruthless cost-cutting and efficiency, careful orchestration of price points with advertising and promotions, and tricks like a recommendation engine that considerately steers customers towards more profitable merchandise. The colorful narrative climaxes with Netflix and archrival Blockbuster throttling each other in an old-fashioned price war that Netflix wins by a hair. Keating hypes the allegedly world-shaking technological transformations in how we access digital content, but what’s far more interesting and dramatic is her smart portrait of how an ever-changing capitalism stays very much the same.
Chronicle of the multibillion-dollar bout between Netflix and former heavyweight home-video champ Blockbuster.
Veteran media journalist Keating’s nonfiction debut is a surprisingly swift-paced mix of investigative journalism and thrillerlike suspense. The major players in the game—Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Blockbuster’s John Antioco—are both complicated characters, and Keating does a commendable job painting a portrait of these very different business leaders, each with his own unique approach to vying for the same brass ring: domination of the American home-entertainment market. Hastings’ management style was coldly calculating, emphasizing the importance of algorithms to the issue of customer service. On the other hand, Blockbuster’s business model was almost Luddite in comparison, as they were convinced that traditional face-to-face transactions with customers would never go out of style. Keating covers the period from Netflix’s inception in 1997, through its lean years in the early 2000s, to its dramatic rise to prominence in the mid-2000s, and its near-downfall in 2010. Dutifully following the strands of Blockbuster’s ignominious decline, Keating also portrays Netflix as being in danger of succumbing to the same monopolistic arrogance as Blockbuster once did. This leaves them open to new business models popping up on the scene, such as the upstart DVD vending-machine service Redbox. Keating does an expert job at taking dry facts and stuffy Silicon Valley CEO types and arranging them all into a propulsive and satisfying narrative. An impressive look at the infinite complexities and cutthroat competition driving the deceptively simple business of 21st-century movie delivery.
Wall Street Journal
Behind the Scenes: How Netflix’s Former CFO Met Growing Competition
McCarthy was smart and tough and made a practice of not tolerating stupid mistakes – his own or anyone else’s. He had a volcanic temper that could erupt suddenly from his normally controlled resting state, making his profanity-laced outbursts doubly alarming when they came. He proved a perfect foil for the icy Hastings, who seemed to respect McCarthy’s shrewdness in market matters and his ability to say no and mean it.
Yahoo! – Screen
Reed Hastings Is Still the Guy to Lead Netflix: Gina Keating
Watch the interview at screen.yahoo.com
Wall Street Journal
Will Netflix Go the Way of Blockbuster?
Gina Keating, author of “Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs,” joins digits with exclusive insights into the company’s scrappy start-up story, CEO Reed Hastings’ polarizing leadership style, and what lies ahead.
We thought we knew the Netflix story. We were wrong. Author Gina Keating.
Pushing the Envelope
The Motley Fool radio show
We talk about the battle for the living room with Gina Keating, author of Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs.
Excerpt: ‘Netflixed’ Examines the Tumultuous Netflix Story
Randolph, in his late thirties, is as happy-go-lucky as Hastings—who is his boss at a soaring software company—is intense. Loose-limbed and lanky, with thinning dark hair, Randolph has engaging brown eyes, a bemused, wide mouth, and an easy laugh. Randolph is Hastings’s mirror opposite, a “people person,” exactly the guy you want to be your marketing manager when you are not.
‘Netflixed’ author talks Hastings’ glory, hubris, white lies (Q&A)
By now, most techies know the celebrated story of how Netflix vanquished Blockbuster to kill off the late fee, usher in streaming distribution, and lay waste to traditional video rentals.
[Netflixed] aims to set the record straight about how the company seized supreme power in online video rentals and who was responsible for that success, as well as offer clues to where the company may be headed.
Larry Wilson: Keating’s ‘Netflixed’ is ultimate entrepreneurs’ tale
The best part of every good business book is when the author brings us into the picture about what the organization was like before it perfected its Big Idea.
Take Netflix, for instance, as most of us do, judging from that familiar red-and-white envelope sitting on that table near your front door where you toss the daily mail. (It sometimes seems to me that the DVD-rental company is the only thing that keeps the United States Postal Service in business; no wonder it lobbies Congress so hard to keep money-losing Saturday delivery.)
Gina Keating’s New Book About the Rise of Netflix
In Gina Keating’s new book, Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, the story of the rise of Netflix sounds almost as juicy as those in the movies it rents out in those signature red envelopes: Two Silicon Valley tech dreamers turn a DVD-by-mail service into a $3 billion empire. Along the way they slay an entire industry and make a few enemies. But only one of the pair survives to emerge a star.
Did Netflix’s Reed Hastings Lie to Us?
After reading Keating’s account, I better appreciate Hastings, the CEO and the man. In fact, for as great of a job as Keating did, Hastings got an equally-as-raw deal.
Los Angeles Times
‘Netflixed’ dishes up juicy morsels about Netflix
Although the book sometimes casts Hastings in an unflattering light, Keating remains convinced he is the main reason that Netflix was able to transform home entertainment.
New book digs into Netflix’s origins, evolution
The book, “Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs,” tries to debunk a widely told tale about the company’s origins and paints a polarizing portrait of its star, CEO Reed Hastings.
New book digs into Netflix’s origins, evolution
The book captures Hastings’ vision, focus, charisma and chutzpah — traits that helped him transform Netflix from a quirky service with fewer than 100,000 customers in the late 1990s into a cultural phenomenon with 30 million subscribers in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and dozens of Latin American countries.
‘Netflixed,’ Book By Gina Keating, Describes CEO Reed Hastings As A Nasty Boss
Viewed through Keating’s lens, Hastings “seemed to lack an empathy gene.” He is depicted as a brilliant mathematician who looks at almost everything as an equation to be solved. Once he’s convinced he has figured out all the variables, Hastings never let compassion trump his logic, based on anecdotes in the book.
Continue reading a huffingtonpost.com
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Hates Carl Icahn Right Now
If you haven’t read Gina Keating’s book, Netflixed: The Epic Battle For America’s Eyeballs, you should. She details, among many other things, the fascinating story of Blockbuster’s fight with Netflix, explaining Icahn’s involvement as a Blockbuster investor.
New book reminds us why we loved Netflix
“Netflixed” is a reminder of why the public and business press fell in love with the company and managers there should hand out copies with every video rental.
The book that plunged Netflix into controversy
In writing her first book, it’s clear that former Reuters journalist Gina Keating didn’t just phone it in. After more than a decade covering media companies, Keating’s book Netflixed offers an in-depth look at the triumphs and tribulations faced by the online streaming service.
In ‘Netflixed,’ Gina Keating goes behind the scenes of ‘The Battle for America’s Eyeballs’
[…] this is not just another dry story about the corporate world. Rather, it’s a colorful tale of outsized personalities and big visions that ultimately led to a split between Reed and Hastings, which acclaimed journalist Gina Keating recounts in her new book “Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs.”
Continue reading at pasadenaweekly.com
The rise of Netflix and the remaking of home entertainment
The book dishes deep dirt surrounding Netflix’ dizzying rise to the top against massive odds: its long-standing rivalry with rental giant Blockbuster, its taking on and more-or-less vanquishing of both the videocassette and the brick-and-mortar rental outlet, and Hastings’ disastrous decision last year to raise subscription prices by as much as 60%, resulting in fierce consumer backlash – and that not-so-flattering Urban Dictionary definition.
Gina Keating on the Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs [Gina Keating interview]
The biggest enemy to Netflix right now is [CEO] Reed Hastings’ sense that he can do everything. He is a very brilliant guy, and he is the one who is responsible for scaling that company and giving it the focus it has to transform home entertainment. But the idea and customer-facing focus was created entirely by [co-founder] Marc Randolph and his team. Humans are very messy. They don’t make a lot of sense—especially consumers. They don’t evolve along a timeline you can really describe. And I think that’s very frustrating to Reed Hastings because he’s a mathematician, and he wants things to develop along a particular time frame.
Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs
Very detailed. Insightful. If you like the machinations of the little guy (Netflix) growing up to tackle the big boys (Blockbuster), enjoy the intricacies of business strategies and tactics, the amped world of developing technology, then this is a good read for you.
Amazon once offered to buy Netflix for $12 million, book says
For anyone thinking about buying “Netflixed,” note that it isn’t just a history lesson. The book offers clues to what may be going on today.
For example, Hastings has for much of the past two years politely dismissed the theory that Amazon Prime’s video service was a serious challenger to Netflix’s streaming business. But in her book, Keating suggests that Netflix has long been wary of Amazon.
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