Netflix Happens When a CEO Has Too Much Power
Whether you write nice things about them or give them a hard time, some CEOs simply do not want to talk to you.
I have reached out to Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings several times -- through his company's PR department and directly via email. I have tried breaking the ice by bringing up the great work he does with charter schools. He wants no part of a dialog with me.
That troubles me, primarily because all I can do is assume and speculate about Hastings and what happens at his company. This guarded, closed-door policy Hastings enforces at Netflix hurts him.
Like I told a Zynga (ZNGA) corporate communications person the other day, Don't be like Netflix! Put Mark Pincus out there. Let me sit down and talk to the guy. Humanize him!
People, particularly investors and their end users, "hate" guys like Hastings and Pincus. They don't seem real. They have become multi-million dollar caricatures of themselves. They cash out options. They get rich in secondary offerings. And they have complete and total control of their less-than-well-managed companies.
This makes them enigmas.
That's a dangerous position for these guys to be in.
Maybe you picked up Gina Keating's excellent book, Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs , and read it in one night. It's page turner. You can't help but walk away from the book wondering about Hastings' ego, his seemingly out-of-control narcissism.
There's no way not to because, other than lame YouTube videos and planned-well-in-advance magazine features (like this one in Vanity Fair where I get some love), the public has no lens, other than a murky, filtered media lens, to see Hastings through.
So when I answer the PsychCentral's Narcissistic Personality Quiz for Hastings, here's what happens:
And, no joke, I gave him the benefit of the doubt in a big way.
This whole notion of access, egomania and control is a big deal. And word that Reed Hastings is in hot water with the SEC over a Facebook (FB) post he made only allows concerns over the amount of control he has at his company to resurface.
This is not the first time Hastings has appeared on the SEC's radar. Late last year, a report hit claiming that the Commission wanted to know more about how Netflix reports subscribers metrics, as I noted on Seeking Alpha at the time. Hastings, for all intents and purposes, seemed to think the SEC was out of line for asking. Netflix now reports less subscriber data, not more.
Along similar lines, Netflix has a history of ignoring the will of its shareholders . At the 2011 annual meeting, investors overwhelmingly passed a measure Hastings disagreed with; he directed the board to shoot it down. Just hideous, practically non-existent corporate governance.