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Netflix names content chief Ted Sarandos as co-CEO

Netflix names content chief Ted Sarandos as co-CEO


Netflix’s big content chief will oversee the company alongside Reed Hastings

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Longtime Netflix executive Ted Sarandos has been named co-chief executive officer alongside co-founder Reed Hastings, the company announced today as part of its second quarter earnings release on Thursday.

“Ted has been my partner for decades. This change makes formal what was already informal — that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix,” Hastings said in a letter to shareholders. The letter does not state if the move is effective immediately.

Hastings added in a blog on the company’s website that he doesn’t expect much to change “in terms of the day-to-day running of Netflix.” Hastings added that “our key executive leadership groups are unchanged,” and he further characterized as the move as “Ted’s well deserved promotion formalizing how we already run the business today.”

It’s a day of executive changes at Netflix, and Hastings noted in his blog post that these “changes are part of a long process of succession planning.” Succession planning can insinuate that the current CEO is gearing up to leave, but Hastings has no plans to depart anytime soon. Hastings noted in his blog post that he’s “committed to Netflix for the long term,” and in an earnings call with analysts, reiterated that he was in it for the long haul.

“To be totally clear, I’m in for a decade — let me be really clear on that,” Hastings said. “I’m in for a decade. As co-CEO, it’s two of us full time. It’s not like a part time deal.” 

“Ted’s well deserved promotion formalizing how we already run the business today.”

Sarandos, who joined Netflix in 1999 and has been with the company for more than 20 years, has long served as chief content officer, a role that has involved overseeing Netflix’s massively successfully originals program starting with series like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Since then, Sarandos has transformed the company into one of the biggest power players in Hollywood. As part of the move, Sarandos has also been elected to the board of directors.

“I’ve also been tremendously fortunate in the teams we’ve built at Netflix, as we’ve reinvented ourselves again and again to meet our members’ needs: from DVD to streaming, from licensing to originals, from series to film and from US to local language stories told by creators all around the world,” Sarandos said in the same blog post.

As part of Netflix’s storied history, Sarandos is one of the key players involved in setting up the platform as a foundational streaming video product now home to nearly 200 million subscribers. Back in 2013, Sarandos was asked by The Hollywood Reporter that if he had to do it all over again, would he spend the amount of money he did on House of Cards — a $100 million deal that not even Hastings knew about at the time. Sarandos’ response: that if they were really going to try and get into the originally programming game, he didn’t want their attempt to fail “because we didn’t try hard enough or we weren’t ambitious enough.”

It’s quite an understatement. Since 2013, Sarandos has been instrumental in Netflix’s content strategy, which has helped the company shed its DVD mail service beginnings and transform into a Hollywood juggernaut. More than half of the titles on Netflix are now originals as the company as weaned itself off licensing, while the talent pool Netflix works with has grown to include directors like Martin Scorsese, Ava DuVernay, and Richard Linklater. The streamer now often dominates award show conversations as it’s become an entertainment force to be reckoned with, all in less than a decade. Most of that is credited to Sarandos and his team of executives working on both the TV and film side.

“Having watched Reed and Ted work together for so long, the board and I are confident this is the right step to evolve Netflix’s management structure so that we can continue to best serve our members and shareholders for years to come,” lead independent director Jay Hoag said.

“I’m committed to Netflix for the long term.”

Alongside Sarandos’ promotion, Netflix also announced that Greg Peters has been appointed chief operating officer on top of his chief product officer role. Hastings noted in the blog post that Peters’ appointment as chief operating officer “reflects the strategic and analytical strengths he’s brought to our product team over the past 10 years.”

“I still pinch myself when I think about what we’ve built together — with almost 200 million members and tremendous room for growth as consumers embrace internet entertainment,” Hastings wrote. “If we continue to improve our service and the quality of our shows and films we can get to serve hundreds of millions more people over the next ten years. It’s why I am so excited about being at Netflix for the decade ahead.”

Update July 16th, 7:45pm ET: Updated to include additional comment from Reed Hastings.