When I tell people I wrote a book, their first question is usually “Did you write it yourself?” I guess they expect that I used a ghostwriter, or wrote an “as told to” tale. Or, conversely, that the words simply poured out of me, like water from a pitcher, stimulated by a dream about a late fee on a movie.
But as I hope you’ve figured out by now, no venture—whether it be book or company—is ever the product of a single person. So did I write this book by myself? Of course not. Like Netflix, this book is the product of scores of people each adding a little bit of themselves to the mixture. I’ll never be able to thank them adequately…but if you’ll bear with me through a few more pages, I’m going to try.
First, a huge thank-you to Jordan Jacks, who—with his patient coaching and countless supportive cries of “this is pure gold”—reviewed, massaged, rearranged, shaped, and infinitely deepened the manuscript. Jordan, I owe you big time.
Also to my friend Doug Abrams of Idea Architects, who, on one of our hours-long walks in the woods, convinced me that there might be a book inside of me, and then spent countless hours helping me bring it to life. This book wouldn’t exist without him.
To my editors: Phil Marino at Little, Brown, who took the how-to book that I initially pitched him and realized that it would be stronger and more powerful as a memoir. He was right. His ongoing edits and suggestions made the book infinitely stronger. And to Claudia Connal, my UK editor at Endeavour, who not only helped me avoid an international incident by misspelling colour (or endeavour), but also provided numerous great suggestions that made the book tighter and clearer in every country.
To Janet Byrne, my copyeditor, who painstakingly found every misplaced comma, misspelled word, and factual inaccuracy. You don’t notice these things until someone points them out to you. If not for her, you may have gotten the impression from me that Dr. Evil’s testicles were “freshly shorn,” not simply (and more accurately) “shorn.”
A huge shout-out to all the members of the early Netflix team who spent countless hours with me on the phone and in person: Christina Kish, Te Smith, Jim Cook, Eric Meyer, Suresh Kumar, Mitch Lowe, Patty McCord, and Steve Kahn. They shared their stories, filled in holes in my memory, and reviewed early drafts of the book for tone and content. I’m sorry I couldn’t fit in all of your great stories, but I loved hearing them.
I owe a special debt to Gina Keating, author of Netflixed, who selflessly shared her original notes and interview transcripts, all of which helped me more accurately capture not just what people said, but how they said it.
To my first advance reader, Sally Rutledge, who, by reading the entire book on a single transcontinental plane flight, first demonstrated that it might be bingeworthy (which is appropriate for a book largely about Netflix).
To the rest of Doug Abrams’s team at Idea Architects: Lara Love, Ty Love, Cody Love, Mariah Sanford, and Janelle Julian, who spent two long days patiently listening to my Netflix stories and helping me build them into something approaching a narrative.
To the publishing team at Little, Brown: Craig Young, Ben Allen, Maggie Southard, Elizabeth Gassman, and Ira Boudah; and to the team at Endeavour: Alex Stetter, Shona Abhynakar, Caro Parodi, and Juliette Norsworthy—who all patiently tolerated an insatiably curious newbie trying to understand how the publishing industry works. Oh…and they promoted and published the book, too.
To Caspian Dennis and to Camilla Ferrier, who helped bring this book to other international audiences.
And a quick call-out (literally) to Anthony Goff and Chrissy Farrell, the people responsible for the audiobook. Thanks for letting me know that I’ve been pronouncing timbre and inchoate incorrectly for all these years.
There was a big group of people involved in letting the outside world know about this book. I’m particularly grateful to Heidi Krupp, Mariah Terry, Jenn Garbowski, Alana Jacobs, Lindsey Winkler, Colleen McCarthy, and Callie Rome at K2 communications; to Barrett Cordero, Ken Sterling, Blair Nichols, Daria Wagganer, and Aggie Arvizu at BigSpeak; to Rob Noble, Jinal Shah, Simon Waterfall, Kyle Duncan, and Paul Bean at Group of Humans; to Kristen Taylor at KThread; to Colby Devitt at Catch the Sun Media; and to TJ Widner, who—as far as I can tell—doesn’t have a name for his business.
Does that last paragraph strike you as a big group of people? Do you wonder how one could possibly keep that crew coordinated and marching in the same direction? Me too. And that’s why my friend Auny Abegglen gets a special thank-you for taking on the thankless task of herding all those cats. Thanks, Auny. I hope this was more fun than doing dog food commercials.
We’re getting to the end here, but not before mentioning the students at High Point University and Middlebury College, who over the years have shared all their great ideas for new ventures with me—and helped me realize that the lessons I learned as an entrepreneur can be used by anyone with a dream they want to make real. Thanks, in particular, to Jessica Holmes, past director of the Middlebury College MiddCORE program. It was with her support and patience that I figured out how to more clearly articulate these hard-won truths in ways that other people could understand.
None of this would have been possible without all of my friends and colleagues—past and present—at Netflix. Stay tuned for the companion volume to these acknowledgements in which I thank all 7,137 Netflix employees. But while you’re waiting for that, let me at least thank the much smaller group who—in addition to those named earlier—were the other full-time pre-launch employees: Corey Bridges, Bill Kunz, Heidi Nyburg, Carrie Kelley, Merry Law, Boris Droutman, Vita Droutman, Greg Julien, and Dan Jepson. OK, folks, who am I forgetting?
There really aren’t enough words for me to properly thank Reed Hastings. Without him in the picture, I wouldn’t be writing this book. Or at the very least, it’s doubtful you would be reading it. Revisiting the events that took place so many years ago gave me an even better appreciation for how amazing his contributions were, and how much I learned from him. Honoring our friendship and what we created together was one of my highest goals. Hope I pulled it off. Reed, when you’re done with Netflix and ready for the next one, I’m in!
And lastly, to my family. Thanks so much for your love and support. And your tolerance. Even now, we are on vacation, my wife and daughter are at the pool, and I’m holed up in our hotel room writing. Sorry again.
Thanks to my kids, Logan, Morgan, and Hunter. In addition to your continual support, all three of you read multiple versions of the book as it took shape and provided valuable feedback. The first glimpse I had that I might be on to something came as the three of you took turns reading chapters out loud while we were on vacation last Christmas. And doing so willingly.
Lorraine, I can’t ever thank you enough. For your support, for your advice, and for your love. Thanks for seeing that writing this book was important to me and for being with me through every minute of it. I love you.
And Kho? Thanks, wherever you are.