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Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs [Kindle Edition]

Gina Keating
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Malkin takes readers on an eclectic journey of American capitalism, from the colonial period to the Industrial Age to the present, spotlighting entrepreneurs who achieved their dreams. Learn more about the author, Michelle Malkin

Book Description

Netflix has come a long way since 1997, when two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Marc Ran­dolph and Reed Hastings, decided to start an online DVD store before most people owned a DVD player. They were surprised and elated when launch-day traffic in April 1998 crashed their server and resulted in 150 sales. Today, Netflix has more than 25 million subscribers and annual revenues above $3 billion. Yet long- term success-or even survival-is still far from guaranteed. Journalist Gina Keating recounts the absorbing, fast-paced drama of the company's turbulent rise to the top and its attempt to invent two new kinds of business. First it engaged in a grueling war against video-store behemoth Blockbuster, transforming movie rental forever. Then it jumped into an even bigger battle for online video streaming against Google, Hulu, Amazon, and the big cable companies. Netflix ushered in such innovations as DVD rental by mail, a patented online queue of upcom­ing rentals, and a recommendation algorithm called Cinematch that proved crucial in its struggle against bigger rivals. Yet for all its success, Netflix is still a polariz­ing company. Hastings is often heralded as a visionary-he was named Business Person of the Year in 2010 by Fortune-even as he has been called the nation's worst CEO. Netflix also faces disgruntled customers after price increases and other stumbles that could tarnish the brand forever. The quest to become the world's portal for pre­mium video on demand will determine nothing less than the future of entertainment and the Internet. Drawing on extensive new interviews and her years covering Netflix as a financial and entertainment reporter, Keating makes this tale as absorbing as it is important.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings, Netflix became one of the biggest dot-com success stories. But at the time, the idea of renting DVD movies by mail was considered a long shot, as DVD was barely an established format. Keating separates fact from legend in this story of how the tiny upstart, Netflix, took on and ultimately decimated the goliaths of the industry, Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video. Although consumers caught on to the service and benefited from the price wars between Netflix and Blockbuster’s rival online service, the companies strained under the pressure of competing at a loss to see who could outlast the other. Fans of either service will be amazed at the machinations that went on behind the scenes while they were blithely enjoying movie after movie on the industry’s dime. It seems that only Apple Computer rivals Netflix in how its customers hold a deep personal attachment to the brand “experience,” and fans of the service will get a lot of insight into how much risk, dedication, and commitment it took to bring that experience into being. --David Siegfried


“The little red envelope that could . . . and did! This is a classic Silicon Valley start-up tale and Keating gives readers behind-the-scenes access to a story that continues to play out in America’s mailboxes, living rooms, and mobile devices every day.”

—JIM COOK, CFO of Mozilla; Netflix founding team member

“A well-crafted, well-researched, and well-sourced page-turner. Keating is no stranger to this subject, having covered Netflix for years as a reporter, and gives readers a fascinating and insightful look into the inner workings of a company that forever changed how America watches movies.”

—LORI STREIFLER, executive editor, City News Service Inc.

“Even if all you know about Netflix is that it has bright red mailers and comes out of your Roku box, Keating’s reporting will make you want to sit down and learn more. It’s a tale of corporate intrigue, gigantic success, and enormous failure.”

—ALLAN PARACHINI, adjunct professor, California State University; former Los Angeles Times reporter

Netflixed has all the drama and intrigue of a Hollywood blockbuster, but for me, it was also nostalgic. Gina Keating perfectly captured the pressure, energy, and emo­tion we all felt as we fought Netflix for control of America’s living rooms. I’m often asked by people, ‘What happened at Blockbuster?’ Now I can tell them . . . just read Netflixed.”

—BEN COOPER, EVP, Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media; former head of marketing, Blockbuster Online

“…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 …An impressive look at the infinite complexities and cutthroat competition driving the deceptively simple business of 21st-century movie delivery.

Kirkus Reviews

“There's a grim reality behind the magical wafting of DVDs to our mailboxes, according to this lively, canny business potboiler…[This] 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.”

Publishers Weekly

“Keating separates fact from legend in this story of how the tiny upstart, Netflix, took on and ultimately decimated the goliaths of the industry, Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video… It seems that only Apple Computer rivals Netflix in how its customers hold a deep personal attachment to the brand “experience,” and fans of the service will get a lot of insight into how much risk, dedication, and commitment it took to bring that experience into being.”


Product Details

  • File Size: 1135 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (October 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007X5ZE4W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,461 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Story October 15, 2012
The story behind the rise of Netflix has always intrigued me, mainly because it never should have happened: Netflix was a scrappy start-up with some venture capital money, setting out to take over a market that was controlled by corporate titans with enormous brand recognition and tremendous financial resources.

But somehow Netflix managed to reinvent the way that people watch movies and turn a profit; just how improbable was this? So improbable that, for YEARS, Netflix was one of the most shorted stocks in America and America's most famous and probably best shortseller, Jim Chanos, had assembled a list of reasons--all good reasons, by the way--why Netflix was destined to fail.

But it didn't. Netflixed is the mostly never before told story of Netflix's unflappable belief in its business model and Blockbuster's highly leveraged ineptitude that allowed Netflix to execute and topple a titan. It's an incredible story, succinctly well-told by Gina Keating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blockbusted! December 31, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As an avid movie fan and long time customer of Blockbuster I switched to Netflix a few years ago as I loved the no late fees concept. The library from Netflix of course was huge so that was a plus as well. This book helps to explain the disruption in the market for movie fans and how slow Blockbuster was to respond. Reminds me a lot about the ongoing battle with Amazon and Barnes and Noble (Barnes and Noble responded a little better).

Gina Keating does a good job balancing the two sides and taking the reader into both houses to understand the thought process for Blockbuster and Netflix. I enjoyed reading about Johnny Antioco from Blockbuster as he so badly wanted to implement certain ideas, but at times was misguided.

Anyone who is a fan of corporate strategy will enjoy this read as Netflix enjoyed having large amounts of cash and low overhead compared to Blockbuster with a serious cash burn and high overhead. In addition Blockbuster had franchisees not on the same page with overall strategy. Netflix also had a personal credo of "great brands had to connect with customers on a personal level". If used wisely and monitored this is where social media helps certain companies.

Good book on how to get after the more established companies and disrupt "business as usual". Anyone starting a business and challenging mature companies and markets needs to read and understand this book. Well written and an interesting read for sure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Ideas and Even Bigger Egos January 12, 2013
By IT Guy
Excellent read and I hope the algorithms at Amazon will recommend her next book to me! I would even go so far as to say that the style of this tech story was "better polished" than the last tech story I read, the recent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson had a tendency to remind the reader what had just happened in the previous chapter, like a TV series returning from commercial and restating the plot. But the pace of Netflixed keeps you reading and interested, no need for recaps.

Based on my personal experience in IT, the most satisfying part of the book was reading about Netflix using technical excellence, in house programmers, and an engineering-driven culture to create software that was a work of art. They easily defeated Blockbuster's outsource-and-copy approach to software development. I almost spit my coffee when I read how the Netflix engineers spotted an obvious flaw in the Blockbuster bar code system, as I'd seen similar errors myself during an Accenture infestation at my company. It was both hilarious and sad that a guy named "Evangelist" could have helped save Blockbuster had the folks in charge listened to his message.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be that there weren't enough technical details. Several minor flubs early on indicated that any technical details provided would be very shallow (...if I recall Usenet was compared to "the Internet" and emails were found via a "URL tracing program"..), but those didn't make the story any less compelling. I wanted to learn more about how the app got into so many DVD and BluRay players and influenced the cord cutters phenomenon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed reading Netflixed July 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this to be a great read as the struggle to satisfy the public's quest for entertainment is constantly evolving. My appreciation for and understanding of Netflix has now been changed in a way that I didn't expect before reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Gina Keating! November 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gina Keating is a gifted story teller who writes with a quick pace, and a succinct style, yet is unfailing in her ability to breath life into all of her characters. I have a particular interest in this subject as I fell in love with Netflix (or really their DVD recommendation engine) back in the day -- I suddenly was watching great movie after great movie, something Blockbuster didn't provide. And I'm still a fan as we stream movies and watch TV shows, in order, at our leisure, commercial free. But I think I would have enjoyed this book even if I had no knowledge of the subject matter beforehand, such is Keating's gift. I look forward to her next book.

The story begins as Randolph and Hastings are carpooling into Silicon Valley deciding that they want to "be the Amazon of something". They recognized that DVDs would displace VHS tapes and Hastings mails one to himself (actually, he mailed a CD, DVDs were hard to find at the time) and found it to be playable. But they still weren't sure about the business model (a-la-cart rentals, sales?). The true genius behind Netflix was how they used the market place as a test lab, trying different combinations in different locations, dissecting the customer data, before settling on the monthly subscription/online queue. The other genius was the recommendation engine, something that the internet allowed them to implement. They discovered that happy customers didn't necessarily have to see the latest release (which were more expensive) and tweaked the online recommendations for this purpose.

But the part of the book I found the most intriguing was the war with Blockbuster, and in particular the role that Carl Icahn, the activist investor played.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of Netflix and the film distribution model
Well paced and comprehensive telling of the Netflix story and the wider industry story of the movie distribution model. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dermot
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and well written.
This book reads like if you smashed the social network and the wolf of Wall Street together. Gina, hit me up to direct this one for you :)
Published 2 months ago by C. Knutson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight into Netflix's Management
I read this book primarily to gain a better understanding about the company that has delivered considerable profit to my investment portfolio. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Luke Liem
4.0 out of 5 stars I like books that explore Business rivals and company histories
... And this is another solid one. The pace of things is moving so fast though that they'll likely have to write subsequent epilogues just to keep the book current. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ross G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought to you by Netflix
A classic Silicon Valley success story of a revolutionary company that survived the late 2000 dot-com bust, various corporate giant assaults and the 2008 Great Recession. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian Kodi
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
Netflix seems now the undisputed leader in online streaming but it was not like this before. This book shows the struggles, battles and victories that Netflix endured in its rise... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. Tellez Rosas
5.0 out of 5 stars You also decided the fate of this market; and will be able to relate...
Very well written; the author, impartially, describes an exciting dispute for an important consumer market and the behavior of their main players. I recommend.
Published 5 months ago by Al Simon
1.0 out of 5 stars who cares?
So dated. Thought it would be about the future. Instead it is about dvd rentals by mail.
Published 7 months ago by Move Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Very cool backgrounder on one of the most revolutionary events of...
This is an insightful book written with a strong and even handed storytellers hand. It brings back memories of how these technologies and companies developed and evolved into... Read more
Published 7 months ago by cnote
4.0 out of 5 stars very easy to read and interesting insights
It's cool how the author aproaches the competitiors in deth to give a better view of the whole cenario. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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