SANTA CRUZ, CALIF.—At a downtown coffee shop in 1997, Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings wondered: Could you mail a DVD and have it arrive unbroken? To test the idea, the friends dropped off a disc at the post office across the street and mailed it to Reed’s home nearby. To their surprise, the disc arrived undamaged, an experiment that soon led to the birth of a scrappy start-up now known as Netflix. Netflix, a name that combines the internet and movies, was once such an improbable idea that Randolph’s wife thought, “that will never work,” inspiring the title of his recently released book. The company not only worked, it worked beyond their wildest dreams. It would eventually revolutionize TV, herald the era of binge-watching and upend Hollywood’s long-established order. Netflix poured vast sums into original TV series and films and became the undisputed king of streaming, with more than 151 million subscribers in nearly 200 countries. Now the Los Gatos company faces an existential challenge from a new crop of rivals who are determined to beat it at its own game. Next month, Apple and Disney will launch their streaming platforms, followed by WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal next year. Investors have… Read full this story
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