Sarandos, 55, will continue to serve as content chief and also was elected to Netflix’s board of directors. He first joined the company in 2000 as a DVD buyer and has overseen content operations ever since.
“Ted has been my partner for decades,” Hastings said in announcing the appointment as part of Netflix’s second-quarter earnings. “This change makes formal what was already informal — that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix.”
In addition, Greg Peters has been appointed Netflix’s chief operating officer, adding to his chief product officer role. “We want Greg to help us stay aligned and effective as we grow so quickly around the world,” said Hastings.
Hastings, in a blog post Thursday, said the changes “are part of a long process of succession planning” — suggesting that he may be stepping aside as the co-CEO at some point. At the same time, Hastings, who is 59, wrote that he is “excited about being at Netflix for the decade ahead.”
“While transitions can be hard, I am optimistic because we have a well-established culture that’s built to be flexible and many years to get good at this,” Hastings wrote.
On the Q2 earnings interview, Hastings emphasized that he is not going anywhere for now: “To be totally clear, I’m in for a decade,” adding that his new co-CEO arrangement with Sarandos is “two of us full-time, it’s not like a part-time deal.”
For his part, Sarandos praised Hastings as an “unbelievable role model and source of inspiration for me” and said “my focus is to continue the successful train we’ve been on for the next 200 million subs around the world.” The two execs appeared to both be sitting in the lobby of Netflix’s L.A. main building, but socially distanced from each other.
Hastings wrote in the blog post, “Ted’s been instrumental to our success as a company. While I saw streaming coming and pushed for it, Ted drove the revolution in our content strategy, which was way ahead of its time and has been key to our continued success.”
In terms of Netflix’s day-to-day management, Hastings added, “I do not expect much to change. Our key executive leadership groups are unchanged. So think of Ted’s well deserved promotion formalizing how we already run the business today.”
In 2019, Sarandos’ total compensation was $34.7 million, up TK% from the year prior. Hastings’ pay package for last year was $38.6 million (including $37.4 million in stock option awards), up about 7%.
Sarandos led the company’s move into original content, which it started in 2013 with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” among its first originals. Before joining Netflix, he was an executive at video distributor ETD and Video City/West Coast Video. Hastings recalled that he first met Sarandos in October 1999 after reading about him in Video Business magazine.
“I’m excited and honored to have been appointed co-CEO of Netflix,” Sarandos said in a statement. He noted that at first, he was skeptical about Hastings’ vision of internet-streaming video.
Sarandos said that growing up in Phoenix, his family struggled financially — but that even if the phone or gas were cut off, his mother “always insisted on having cable TV and a little dish to get HBO.” At his job at a local video-rental store in high school, “Watching films and TV all day, and hearing what customers liked, helped me understand people’s dramatically different tastes and moods as well as the value of a good recommendation,” Sarandos said. “My journey to co-CEO of Netflix has been as a fan of great entertainment.”