Don’t let Netflix’s quiet M&A track record fool you: The company is open to making the right deal, according to top execs who discussed that prospect in an appearance on the streaming service’s pre-taped discussion following its earnings report Monday.
Though the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company has made only one acquisition in its 20-year history — comic-book publishing company Millarworld — Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos signaled his interest. “In terms of using M&A to acquire intellectual property, it could be a very useful tool,” he said.
Sarandos cited the example of Millarworld, which Netflix purchased last year for an undisclosed sum. He indicated the company is already in production on one series based on a Millarworld property, “The Magic Order,” and that the acquired company released its first comic book under Netflix auspices.
Citing Netflix’s historical disinclination to acquire, Spencer Wang, VP of investor relations and corporate development, also cautioned that the past isn’t necessarily an indicator of what the future holds for the company.
“Based on that track record, I think the takeaway for investors is that we have a strong bias to build over buy,” said Wang. “That being said, we do see M&A as a perfectly fine tool for us to help find interesting assets that help us grow the business. From our perspective, we continue to be on the lookout for new IP and other related assets that help us improve the service and help us grow faster.”
Wang and Sarandos were mum on a pair of recent reports that Netflix was circling potential acquisition targets including EuropaCorp, Luc Besson’s film studio, and Los Angeles-based billboard company Regency Outdoor Advertising.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took part in the videotaped discussion as well but did not address M&A prospects. He did, however, touch on the troubles other technology giants like Facebook are currently encountering with data privacy, and claimed that not being in the advertising business keeps Netflix from being vulnerable to those issues.
“We’re substantially inoculated from the other issues that are happening in the industry, which is great,” he said. Hastings, it’s worth noting, is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.
Correction: This article initially reported that the name of the Millarworld property in production was “The Umbrella Academy,” which was what Sarandos had said during the post-earnings discussion. A Netflix representative later clarified that Sarandos had misspoke, and had meant to say “The Magic Order.”