Reed Hasting was charged late fees for returning a rented copy of Apollo 13. This inspired him and Marc Randolph, previous coworker at Pure Software, to create Netflix in 1997. The following year the website was launch with an online version of pay-per-rental model ($4.00 per rental plus $2.00 in postage; late fees applied). In September 1999, monthly subscription was introduced. Since then it has a reputation on the business model of flat-fee unlimited rentals without due dates, late fees, shipping or handling fees, or per title rental fees.
Netflix developed and maintains an extensive personalized video-recommendation system based on ratings and reviews by its customers. On October 1, 2006, Netflix offered a $1,000,000 prize to the first developer of a video-recommendation algorithm that could beat its existing algorithm, Cinematch, at predicting customer ratings by more than 10%.
Netflix has played a prominent role in independent film distribution. Through a division called Red Envelope Entertainment but it closed in 2008, in part to avoid competition with its studio partners.
Netflix initiated an initial public offering (IPO) on May 29, 2002, selling 5,500,000 shares of common stock at the price of US $15.00 per share. On June 14, 2002, the company sold an additional 825,000 shares of common stock at the same price. After incurring substantial losses during its first few years, Netflix posted its first profit during fiscal year 2003, earning US $6.5 million profit on revenues of US $272 million. The company is well known for its worker-oriented culture, including unlimited vacation time for salaried workers and allowing those employees to take any amount of their paychecks in stock options.
Netflix has been one of the most successful dot-com ventures. A The New York Times article from September 2002, said that, at the time, Netflix mailed about 190,000 discs per day to its 670,000 monthly subscribers. The company's published subscriber count increased from one million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to around 5.6 million at the end of the third quarter of 2006, to 14 million in March 2010. Netflix's growth has been fueled by the fast spread of DVD players in households; as of 2004, nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes had a DVD player. Netflix capitalized on the success of the DVD and its rapid expansion into U.S. homes, integrating the potential of the Internet and e-commerce to provide services and catalogs that brick and mortar retailers could not compete with. Netflix also operates an online affiliate program which has helped it to build online sales for DVD rentals.
On September 18, 2011, Netflix announced its intentions to rebrand and structure its DVD home media rental service as an independent subsidiary company called Qwikster, totally separating DVD rentals and streaming. Andy Rendich, a 12-year veteran of Netflix, would have been the CEO of Qwikster. The new service would carry video games whereas Netflix did not. Then, in October 2011, Netflix announced that it would retain its DVD service under the name Netflix and would not, in fact, create Qwikster for that purpose.
On October 24, 2011, Netflix announced it lost 800,000 US subscribers in the third quarter of 2011 and more subscriber losses were expected in the fourth quarter of 2011. Despite the losses, earnings for Netflix jumped 63 percent for the third quarter of 2011.
On January 26, 2012, Netflix said it added 610,000 subscribers in the US by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. The company announced it had 24.4 million US subscribers for this time period.
Netflix first moved internationally by launching their streaming-only service in Canada on September 22, 2010. Then, in spring 2011, Netflix announced they would further expand internationally by launching services Latin America, by the end of 2011, and in the European market, starting in Spain by 2012. Subsequently, Netflix...
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