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Netflix's Reed Hastings stepping down as company posts best subscriber numbers in a year

Hastings is stepping down as CEO at Netflix, a position he's held since the company's DVD-by-mail days

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Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings
Photo: Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images / Netflix

Some big news out of Netflix tonight—at least, for the kind of nerds we’re forced to be, who have to care about who, say, runs Netflix—as company co-founder Reed Hastings announced during an earnings call today that he’d be stepping down as co-CEO of the company, a role he’s shared with chief content officer Ted Sarandos for the last 2.5 years. Sarandos won’t have to soldier on alone in the CEO role, though, issuing his impassioned defenses of Dave Chappelle by hand: He’ll be joined in the position by former chief operating officer Greg Peters. (Hastings will stay on as “executive chairman” of the company, a distinction that we’re sure the planet’s C-suite types will understand instinctively, transmitting it to each other via a series of indecipherable clicks and buzzes.)

News of Hastings—who’s been one of the major guiding forces at Netflix since the DVD days—stepping down comes as the company emerges from one of its shittiest years on record, albeit one where the tunnel got a little brighter at the end. After taking it in the teeth on subscriber numbers early last year, to the point that investors launched angry lawsuits over missed targets, the launch of the company’s long-threatened ad-supported tier finally seems to have staunched the bleeding. (Per Variety, Netflix brought in about 7 million new subscribers in Q4 of 2022, nearly doubling its estimates for the period.)

More to the point, Netflix is clearly looking to get out of the subscriber rat race altogether; this is reportedly the last time the company intends to set subscriber goals, period, instead focusing solely on revenue. To that end, the company’s shareholder’s letter was careful to remind all involved that, yes, the crackdown on password sharing is coming—“Today’s widespread account sharing (100M+ households) undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business”—along with a note that, after a decade of voracious spending on new content, the company is ready to dial back its efforts to make new content. (Which would also explain its equally voracious appetite for cancellations of late.)