February 28, 2004 - Houston Chronicle: Reed Hastings, a former Peace Corps volunteer who once taught math in Swaziland, says he is pursuing a far nobler cause

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Swaziland: Peace Corps Swaziland: The Peace Corps in Swaziland: February 28, 2004 - Houston Chronicle: Reed Hastings, a former Peace Corps volunteer who once taught math in Swaziland, says he is pursuing a far nobler cause

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-188-54.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 7:04 pm: Edit Post

Reed Hastings, a former Peace Corps volunteer who once taught math in Swaziland, says he is pursuing a far nobler cause

Reed Hastings, a former Peace Corps volunteer who once taught math in Swaziland, says he is pursuing a far nobler cause

Founder of Netflix builds a cause into big business
Associated Press

LOS GATOS, Calif. — It would be easy to cast Netflix founder Reed Hastings as simply a dot-com rebel whose online DVD subscription service empowers consumers by letting them keep video rentals indefinitely without facing late fees.

But Hastings, a former Peace Corps volunteer who once taught math in Swaziland, says he is pursuing a far nobler cause.

Hastings sees himself as a DVD evangelist, with Netflix a pulpit for his mission to deepen the world's passion for movies and find an audience for every film.

"I would like Netflix to transform the movie business," Hastings says without the slightest trace of bombast.

"We want to become a Top 10 media company."

It sounds like a like a far-fetched ambition for an industry upstart that started this year with a 3 percent share of the $9.9 billion video rental market and stiffer competition from Blockbuster Entertainment and Wal-Mart Stores looming. Hastings, 43, isn't backing down, perhaps because he's already defied conventional thinking.

"He's the kind of guy you would back in a heartbeat because he is such a brilliant strategic thinker," said Jay Hoag, whose venture capital firm, Technology Crossover Ventures, was an early Netflix backer.

Skepticism has been shadowing Hastings since his 1999 launch of Netflix, which charges an all-you-can-watch monthly fee of $19.95 to receive three DVDs at a time through the mail.

Critics quickly panned Hastings' smorgasbord approach as another dot-com blunder. The service instead struck a nerve with tech-savvy movie lovers fed up with video late fees, a cash cow that industry leader Blockbuster Entertainment milked for about 15 percent of its revenues before Netflix came along.

Now Los Gatos-based Netflix is thriving, its audience rapidly approaching 2 million subscribers as the service attracts about 125,000 new customers each month, helped by software that personalizes movie recommendations based on customers' viewing histories and their feedback on films.

Netflix's accelerating growth has helped its stock more than quadruple in less than two years despite doubts about Netflix's ability to survive tougher competition and video-on-demand.

Meanwhile, consumers are renting fewer movies from Blockbuster, a trend that recently prompted majority owner Viacom to seek a buyer for its 81 percent stake in the 8,900-store video rental chain.

Even before Netflix, Hastings established himself as a shrewd entrepreneur.

In the early 1990s, he started a business software maker, Pure Atria, that he wound up selling to Rational Software for $752 million in stock. Hastings then came up with the idea for Netflix when he returned a rented copy of Apollo 13 more than a week late and got slapped with a $39 penalty.

It may turn out to be the best money Hastings ever spent, considering his personal stake in Netflix is now worth nearly $150 million.

Hastings isn't driven entirely by money. In 2000, former California Gov. Gray Davis appointed Hastings as president of the state's Board of Education, a nonpaid position he is lobbying to keep under California's new governor.

"We have all of Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies at Netflix," Hastings jokes.

Netflix's library of 18,000 DVD titles also includes many little-noticed movies, the kinds of films for which Hastings hopes to build larger audience. He aims to assemble the world's most diverse selection of DVDs and then draw upon Netflix's ability to analyze each customer's film tastes to "find the right movie for the right person."

It's a cause that Hastings hopes will help differentiate Netflix from mounting competition.

Wal-Mart launched a similar online rental service last year that undercuts Netflix by about a buck a month. Blockbuster already owns a Netflix copycat, FilmCaddy.com, and plans to introduce an online service that will deliver DVDs under its own brand name later this year.

"We should not only be able to compete in the online business but have a substantial edge over the existing competition," Blockbuster CEO John Antioco recently assured analysts.

But Netflix already is gaining a reputation as the place to go for independent films, foreign movies and documentaries that are tough to find elsewhere.

Leyl Master Black is among the legion of subscribers who love to pluck eclectic movies from Netflix's recommendation list. Because she's paying a flat fee, Black, 33, feels more comfortable checking out an obscure DVD from Netflix than gambling on an offbeat rental during trips to a Blockbuster store.

"I have seen so many movies from Netflix that I would never be able to find at a video store," said Black, who lives in San Francisco and Seattle. "Using something like Netflix takes a little more advanced planning, but it's definitely worth it."

Netflix doesn't impress all its customers. About 5 percent drop out each month.

The company loses money on new customers during the first four months. Based on its current churn rate, Netflix estimates the average subscriber keeps the rental service for 21 months, up from 16 months at the end of 2002.

Netflix's revenues nearly doubled last year, producing a $6.5 million profit on subscriptions totaling $270 million. It's expanding into Canada and the United Kingdom.

Hastings believes Netflix could earn more than $20 million for all of 2004, with revenues reaching as high as $475 million. Within five years, he predicts, the company will boast more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 100,000 film titles.

"Reed has established a beachhead in something that looked like nothing more than a toehold just a couple years ago," said entertainment industry analyst Dennis McAlpine. "It's not going to be easy to get rid of him now."

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Story Source: Houston Chronicle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Swaziland; Business; Silicon Valley; Computers; Internet



By Charles Nweke ( on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 6:26 am: Edit Post

We now have a Peace Corp in Nigeria known as National Unity and peace Corp(NUPEC). I'm certain that we are pursuing a common course. To this effect, we want to partner with you in order to achieve our set objectives. Please inform us of how possible this can be.

By eghosa ( - on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - 6:56 am: Edit Post

kindly send to me the informations about the Nigerian national unity and peace corp [NUPEC].

By Alphons Okele (p57964869.dip.t-dialin.net - on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 6:59 am: Edit Post

We learnt that the Nigerian National Unity and Peace Corps is recruiting people in Abuja area and sending them to various states. How authentic is the operations of this corps and do they have a legal backing from the national assembly?

By Anonymous ( on Thursday, May 01, 2008 - 4:29 pm: Edit Post

patrick but i know they are recruiting without feeding'how can the applicant survive it in the training?

By FOINYANGO JOY DANIEL (phhq-hq-he200-i-w-01.starcomms.net - on Friday, May 02, 2008 - 2:58 am: Edit Post


By Mr joe ( on Saturday, October 18, 2008 - 12:41 pm: Edit Post

Pls national assembly u pple should look into us pls

By MR OKOYE PETER A. ( on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - 2:33 pm: Edit Post


By Julian ( on Thursday, October 23, 2008 - 10:48 am: Edit Post

What is holding nupec to be legislated?

By Okwelum jude ( on Saturday, October 25, 2008 - 11:15 am: Edit Post

pls. i want to fin out about how NUPEC recriute peopl and the level of qualification needed, the salary paid.

By makozi ikhane isaac ( on Friday, November 21, 2008 - 11:32 am: Edit Post

i am a graduate interested to work with the national unity and peace corp. please tell me when, where and how i can be recruited.

By MR.S.K.BABALOLA ( on Saturday, December 06, 2008 - 12:57 am: Edit Post

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY pls,urgently pass NUPEC bill into law.as dis wil reduce uneployment rate.

By Degosh ( on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 6:41 am: Edit Post

National Assembly and sentors pls look into nupec activities if it is good pls lead hand on them inorder to reduce unempolyed youths in country please

By ayobami ( on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 8:53 pm: Edit Post

The national unity and peace corps have good things to offer nigerians.Their programmes are spectacular. we implore the national assembly to let it be legislated.

By FRIDAY STEPHEN AKUT ( on Monday, March 23, 2009 - 8:39 pm: Edit Post

I so much love getting information about national unity and peace corp. But the NUPEC. news is not in the communication media as others ageneses why? What did Yar’adua Said about NUPEC in-view of the role of NUPEC to the nation? I want Mr. President to know that were there is Unity there is Peace and were there is no Peace, Unity cannot be establish. Not forgotten you Architect Namadi Sambo the Governor of Kaduna State. Your iron concern toward NUPEC

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