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Private Investment Brief @ThePIBnyc
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As a rule, when a newspaper article starts with "A difficult debate is raging in the halls of Company X..." and two sentences later the "debate" turns out to be a dumb thing to be fighting about, then usually something else is going on. As marriage counselors, know, fights are...
...never really about what they're supposed to be about. That's what seems to be going on at Netflix. Officially, they're debating internally whether to "trust the algorithm" or override it in order to keep Jane Fonda et. al. happy:…
But arguments like that are not actually that hard to resolve. The objective correlative isn't there, to use a showbiz term. This leads me to believe that Fondagate is a proxy war for some deeper internal turmoil within Netflix. I'm not sure what exactly that turmoil consists...
...of, but I don't think it's a coincidence that there have been two long, leak-filled, somewhat nasty WSJ articles about the company within a few weeks. (On the bright side, you know you've arrived in life when people like me start with the full-scale Kremlinology). My guess... it's a case of Saxons vs. Normans, with a little CP Snow thrown in: Once upon a time there lived a race of runty, awkward, but lovable nerds who spoke plainly, looked facts squarely in the face, and loved technology. They started a company and it prospered. Then the...
Normans from Hollywood invaded—taller, better-dressed, better-spoken Basil Rathbone types who can magically win any argument without having to present rigorous evidence (a weapon the nerds are especially powerless against). That much is obvious, I suppose, and perhaps to be...
...expected from a company that has evolved as Netflix has. And it wouldn't be much of a problem if the political power of the Hollywood faction corresponded closely with their long-term strategic importance. But I wonder if the nerds see it that way. My conspiracy theory is...
...that the technologists, as keepers of the original Netflix flame, believe the Hollywood faction has become irrationally powerful. I should admit my bias here: I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Netflix's "rerun TV" of licensed content was the company's secret weapon...,
...with original content (the raison d'être of the Hollywood faction) more of a buzz-builder, marketing tool, and means by which Netflix's top executives can have a little more fun in life (they wouldn't be the first—we're looking at you, Bronfman family!). Maybe I'm totally...
...wrong, and the Hollywood faction deserves to take over. But I thought it was very telling that the WSJ article mentioned the opposition of Neil Hunt— perhaps the true father of Netflix's technological superiority, and a man who you'd think would be agnostic between rerun TV...
...and original content—to efforts to bias viewers in favor of original content. [More on Hunt here:…)
Neil Hunt was of course fired, ostensibly because it was thought the new chief product officer should be from the Hollywood side. I don't know Fam: Between these purges (Freudian slip) and the two strange WSJ articles, it all feels a little ominous. "It's the human element......"
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