Everything was rolling smoothly, but it crashed when Hastings split streaming from DVD and raised prices. These moves triggered Netflix's crash, but ultimately they benefited Hastings. He was able to point to Qwikster and the price hike as temporary obstacles that would take time to overcome, but, once Netflix got past them, everything would be all right again.
He masterfully took control of the story and shifted focus away from Netflix's broken business model. Today, he operates along similar lines, using international expansion and original programming as evidence that Netflix operates from a position of strength. It does not. From any objective quantitative or qualitative standpoint, this is obvious.
Netflix needs a miracle to achieve the level of success it requires internationally and with originals to survive. But that's what Hastings does. He sells miracles. Ice to Eskimos. He turns busted and unsustainable business models that require cash infusions to stay afloat into opportunities. Wall Street laps it up so it should come as no surprise if, eventually, Steve Ballmer does as well.
And people have the nerve to criticize Jeff Bezos at Amazon. Or, worse yet, suggest that he might be willing to make a Ballmer-like mistake and take Netflix off of its shareholders' hands.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.