Wilmot Reed Hastings, Jr., commonly known as Reed Hastings, was born on October 8, 1960, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is an American entrepreneur renowned for his role as one of the co-founders of Netflix, a prominent company specializing in media streaming and video rentals. Reed served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Netflix from 1998 to 2020, and later, he held the position of co-CEO from 2020 to 2023, after which he assumed the role of Executive Chairman in 2023.
Reed Hastings has a bachelor’s degree in 1983 in mathematics at Bowdoin College. Following this, he dedicated a period of his life to serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and then spent two years as part of the Peace Corps. During his time with the Peace Corps, he predominantly taught mathematics in what is now known as Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).
Upon returning to the United States, Reed Hastings continued his academic journey at Stanford University, achieving a master’s degree in computer science in 1988. Subsequently, he ventured into the field of software development. In 1991, he founded Pure Software, which later became Pure Atria Corporation. Notably, he sold this company in 1997, yielding a substantial profit from the transaction.
In 1997, Hastings conceived the notion of a movie-rental service based on subscriptions, spurred by a significant late fee he incurred when he failed to return a videocassette rented from a physical store. Although DVDs were a relatively new format in the market at the time, Hastings believed they could be efficiently mailed to customers. Alongside his business partner Marc Randolph (who departed from the company in 2004), Hastings established Netflix as a California-based company in 1997, commencing its mail-order DVD operations in 1998. Hastings assumed the role of the company’s CEO later that same year.
Initially, Netflix allowed customers to rent each DVD for a seven-day period, but by December 1999, subscribers could pay a fixed monthly fee to rent an unlimited number of DVDs. Customers made their DVD selections and managed their accounts through the Netflix website, and DVDs (up to three at a time) were dispatched and returned via mail. Upon the return of a DVD, the next movie on the customer’s account list was automatically dispatched.
Hastings expanded Netflix’s reach through partnerships with movie studios and robust marketing campaigns. He emphasized Netflix’s extensive catalog of independent films, documentaries, and other content not readily available on other platforms. In February 2007, Netflix marked the shipment of its billionth DVD. Concurrently, the company introduced applications that allowed customers to access movies and TV shows through streaming downloads.
Hastings continued to oversee Netflix’s expansion into content produced exclusively for its streaming service. During this period, Netflix also began producing its own films. In 2020, Ted Sarandos was appointes co-CEO alongside Hastings. Three years later, Hastings stepped down from his position as CEO to assume the role of executive chairman.
In addition to his business endeavors, Hastings was known for his philanthropic efforts, dedicating a portion of his time to educational causes, particularly in the realm of charter schools. Between 2000 and 2004, he served as the president of the California State Board of Education.
Hastings is married to Patricia Ann Quilin, and they both have two children.