Willy Shih, Stephen P. Kaufman
Strategy & Execution
Reed Hastings founded Netflix to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encountered challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across a broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation’s largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon – the rapid growth of the company’s online streaming service, which had a very different business model. Hastings’ efforts to separate the activity into two separate companies met with strong pushback from consumers and the press. What was the best path forward?
Disruptive innovation, Growth strategy, Operations management, Technology