Marc Randolph is a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, advisor and investor, as well as a co-founder and the first c.e.o. of Netflix. He shares the inside story of the media start-up and the techniques that anyone can use to take their idea from concept to success in his book, That Will Never Work: the Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea, which he tells us more about below.
Can you sum up That Will Never Work in a sentence or two?
That Will Never Work is the untold story of Netflix. It’s how a handful of people, with no experience in the video business, went from mailing a used Patsy Cline CD and ended up with a publicly traded company.
Why did you want to share the story of Netflix?
People are always advised to follow your dreams, but in That Will Never Work I show them how! That Will Never Work is my chance to share all the secrets I’ve accumulated in a 40 years career as a entrepreneur—secrets that can help anyone turn their dream into a reality.
What things do you think readers will be surprised to discover in the book?
People imagine that Netflix sprang fully formed into a global streaming giant, but Netflix might have been personalised sporting goods—or customised shampoo—or even pet food, since these were all ideas that I pitched Reed Hastings in those first months. They’ll be surprised to hear all the close calls, disappointments, and how close we came to not making it.
What lessons can readers take away from it?
By following the story of how we built a company, they’ll inevitably see things they can apply to their own lives and their own challenges—whether they are interested in building a company or not.
How did you find the publishing process? What impressions have you taken away of the industry?
It was fascinating to see—from the inside—how a centuries old industry is responding to new challenges and pressures. While some components are doing well—and meeting readers where they want to be—there were other elements that felt like vestiges of a different day and time.
That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea by Marc Randolph is published on 17th September by Endeavour, a division of Octopus Publishing.