Meetup: Netflix, from good to great

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to the ‘Product that counts’ meetup at Yelp SF.
I try to make it to this meetup every time I can as the caliber of the speakers is quite high and they normally share interesting facts.
This meetup was about Netflix and how the product evolved. The speaker was Gibson Biddle, ex VP of Product at Netflix.

Netflix - ex VP Product Gibson Biddle

Netflix – ex VP Product Gibson Biddle

Some of the interesting facts that were treated during the talk and that are good to think about were:

  • What do you do against a $5M law suit?
    • Do you leave it setting a precedence for others or you fight it being a considerable distraction rather than focussing on your product?
  • When releasing a product and the competence launches a similar product just 1 week before you do, do you release it or learnt from it? Is it worth the wait?
  • In what do you base your decisions? Do you focus only on the product even if that may affect the return of the investment and have some people wondering about their ROI?
  • How do you deal with competitors that release alternatives to your product? (Blockbuster?)

I think the main answer to some of these questions, apart from the experience on this which is invaluable, is the data you have and the quality of it.

Apart from learning from his experience growing and adding features to the Netflix product, there were some interesting facts about what went well and wrong:

  • I always thought APIs are one of the exponentials for the use of your product. People will create amazing applications if your product is good. Apparently, Open Apis did not go that well for Netflix.
  • Social network did not go that well either. Your friends have really different taste to you when referring to movies. On the other hand collaborative filtering was a success.

Interesting facts

  1. Netflix started as a renting service for DVD. 
  2. When pivoting on ideas, design of the product changed radically as well. At a specific time, their revenue was dvd rental, competing with big companies like block busters. Advertisement let them flow for a couple of years and finally streaming was possible.
Netflix on year 1999

Netflix on year 1999

Netflix year 2015

Netflix year 2015

  1. On top of that, Netflix at a certain point decided to avoid getting into hardware. In a matter of months, they got partnerships with XBox on TV manufacturers.
  2. Netflix took big risks with several of its decisions: not launch 1 month before Amazon did in UK, not getting into the hardware business, wait until the correct time when dealing with Blockbuster…

If you are interested on the original slides, you can find the link here .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *