Twenty years ago today (August 29th, 1997), is when Netflix was founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. The pair started Netflix after Hastings just sold off his company, Pure Atria for $700 million.
Hastings said that he started Netflix after he was fined $40 at a Blockbuster for being late to return a copy of Apollo 13. Let’s take a quick history of Netflix over the past 20 years.
It wasn’t until April 14th, 1998, where the company properly launched NetFlix.com as a mail order DVD rental service. Members could choose from more than 900 DVDs and you could keep a movie for up to seven days.
In September 1999, Netflix introduced a subscription model, where for $15.95 per month, members could keep up to four movies for as long as they like. Nearly a year later, Netflix introduced an unlimited option for $19.95 per month. Unlike retail rivals like Blockbuster, Netflix’s service offered no due dates, late fee or shipping fees with their unlimited plan.
In 2000, Netflix declined an acquisition offer by Blockbuster of $50 million. On May 29th, 2002, Netflix filed for an IPO with just over 600,000 members and less than 400 employees. On opening day, Netflix sold 5.5 million shares at $15 USD per share and a few weeks later, the company sold an additional 825,000 shares.
In 2004, co-founder and board member Randolph left the company. In February 2007, Netflix introduced their streaming service and to start to move away from the business of DVDs sales. Netflix initially offer around 1,000 titles such as Chinatown and The Office.
In September 2011, Netflix decided to spin off their DVD business as Quikster but the idea was met with backlash and a month later, Netflix said they would be killing Quikster before it even began.
On February 1st, 2013, Netflix released their first piece of original content with House of Cards. Kevin Spacey plays the titular role of Frank Underwood as he schemes his way into power. The show’s first season earned 9 Emmy nominations which was the first streaming exclusive show to do so.
On October 16th, 2015, Netflix released Beasts of No Nation both in theatres and on their service. It was the company’s first major motion picture (of which they bought the rights for $12 million). This move by Netflix was met by criticism by theatre owners, partly because it hurt their business.
Netflix has continued to release more original content, they have released an estimated 126 original series or films in 2016 alone, which is more than any network or cable channel.
On January 6th, 2016, Netflix goes live in 130 new countries, to add to the 60 countries it’s already available in. CEO, Reed Hastings announced this during his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Today, Netflix is one of the biggest companies out there. As of July 2017, they have about 103 million subscribers worldwide with around 51 million in the US alone. The company is worth around $61 billion
Happy 20th Birthday to Netflix and here’s to many more years and countless hours of entertainment.
It won’t be too long before Netflix’s 25th or 30th comes around in the next couple of years.