Putting the business savvy of Reed Hastings’ decision to spin off Netflix’s DVD-by-mail business into Qwikster aside — and there is a lot to debate about this — the way all of this came about makes me think that it was a decision made in the middle of the night by a panicked executive on a weekend bender. Namely (no pun intended), the name: Qwikster. Nevermind that just about everything on the web with a name ending in “ster” has ultimately failed (Friendster, Napster), but the company didn’t secure the @qwikster domain from Twitter prior to unveiling the new business unit.
Even worse, the person currently in possession of @qwikster — some random dude named Jason Castillo — is a guy with a penchant for tweets some might find mildly offensive who has a stoner Elmo (pictured at right) as his avatar.
The whole debacle Netflix has fallen into in the past few weeks is yet another not-so-subtle reminder of the stunning speed in which things can rise and fall on the web. People create things that come out of nowhere and take off like rockets launching into the sky, only to come crashing back down to earth shortly thereafter. And the people who create those things go from being hailed as geniuses to idiots in lightning speed, as their triumphs and failings are talked about and dissected on all corners of the web.
It wasn’t that long ago that Reed Hastings was hailed as such a genius, someone who revolutionized an entire industry and slayed well-established corporate giants virtually overnight, and today he is almost universally being derided as a blithering idiot who has no idea what he’s doing with his company. In the “old days” people built businesses and the industries in which those businesses existed remained largely unchanged for decades, thus there was never the need to evolve too frequently and so rapidly. (Oh you developed webbed feet because your world flooded and you needed to be able to swim faster than your predators? Well the water has already receded and now you better be able to run faster than your predators. Good luck with that, Mr. Webbed Feet!)
So much for all that. It’s the reality of the world we all now exist in, and in this case it makes me kind of sad because I love Netflix. LOVE. It provides a service that I treasure and frankly would be willing to pay more for if they asked me to and I believe the company was taken to the woodshed and suffered unjustly when they announced their rate increase a few weeks ago and now, in an apparent effort to make it up to the cry-babies it pissed off, is panicked and making questionable decisions.
I really hope they make it. But the pounding they’re taking today is, frankly, well-deserved.
Meanwhile, I’m guessing Jason Castillo’s net worth is about to expand exponentially?