Netflix’s mission statement, as articulated on their website, is “We want to entertain the world.” It’s simple, sure, but that’s what makes it a great mission statement: those six words encompass pretty much everything Netflix does. They are an entertainment company with global ambitions.
There’s more to a company than just a mission statement. Below, we’ll also dig into Netflix’s vision statement, values, and corporate culture. But first, I’ve got something to clear up regarding a misattributed Netflix mission statement I’ve seen floating around…
An Often-Cited (but fake) Netflix Mission Statement
On several websites, you’ll find the following statement misattributed as Netflix’s mission: “We promise our customers stellar service, our suppliers a valuable partner, our investors the prospects of sustained profitable growth, and our employees the allure of huge impact.”
But from everything I can find, this statement does not appear anywhere on Netflix’s website, in company culture documents, or in quotes from employees. It’s unclear where this mission comes from, but it’s very vague and has little to do with Netflix’s business – are they really more concerned with their “suppliers” than with providing quality entertainment?
This statement doesn’t use the language of a media company or a tech company, and it doesn’t use the language Netflix or its executives do when describing their business. By all measures, it appears to be a misattributed quote that has taken on a life of its own over the internet. I even reached out to Netflix; a member of their communications team confirmed that the above statement is not Netflix’s mission statement.
Netflix Vision Statement
Netflix does not have a clear public-facing vision statement. If it did, it would likely be something along the lines of “to be the leading platform for streaming media worldwide.”
It’s not too common for a company’s vision statement to address maintaining a position they have already achieved. But with megalithic competitors such as Disney and Apple, maintaining the pole position in a growing marketplace might well be enough. Of course, those companies are not Netflix’s only competitors. Perhaps Netflix CEO Reed Hastings got closest to articulating their true vision statement when, in an interview, he said that Netflix’s biggest competitor was sleep.
Historically, Netflix has already fulfilled two major visions in the 25 years since its inception.
The first was to build a DVD-by-mail business that could outcompete Blockbuster, the titan of video rentals. That was never a sure play, and, when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, Netflix’s founders were ready to sell the company to Blockbuster for $50 million. But Blockbuster turned them down – only to declare bankruptcy ten years later.
Netflix’s next great vision was to pioneer digital streaming and become a leading player in digital media. To do so, they launched their streaming platform in 2007 and began releasing original content in 2012. By now, you can call it mission accomplished – Disney and Warner Brothers are working to catch up, Amazon and Apple are looking to get their piece, and Netflix, for now, is ahead of the pack.
Their biggest competitor is sleep.
Netflix Values & Company Culture
On their company culture page, Netflix emphasizes five key principles that underpin work at Netflix:
What is special about Netflix, though, is how much we:
1. encourage independent decision-making by employees
2. share information openly, broadly, and deliberately
3. are extraordinarily candid with each other
4. keep only our highly effective people
5. avoid rules
Later on the page, they discuss the first of the above tenets in terms of freedom and responsibility. Per their description, they trust their employees to act in the best interests of the company, and give them broad leeway to do so.
The goal of this approach is to keep the company sharp and adaptive as it scales. As organizations grow, they often either devolve into chaos or develop layers of management and process that, even when effective, can stifle innovation.
But this level of employee independence can be difficult to maintain. To do so, Netflix intentionally keeps their business simple and focused. Among their major rivals, Netflix is the only company solely focused on streaming media. Because Netflix doesn’t have to maintain dozens of product lines and verticals, it’s easier for them to give employees the freedom to make their own decisions.
To support this independence, Netflix also insists on excellence from its employees. It pays top-of-market rates, and is famously unafraid to let people go if they’re not outstanding at their jobs. That might seem cruel, but hey, Netflix employees know what they’re signing up for – and for them, the culture of excellence must have a certain appeal.
Alongside the above principles, Netflix emphasizes an additional set of company values:
- You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
- You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
- You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
- You are good at using data to inform your intuition
- You make decisions based on the long term, not near term
- You are concise and articulate in speech and writing
- You listen well and seek to understand before reacting
- You maintain calm poise in stressful situations to draw out the clearest thinking
- You adapt your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language
- You provide candid, helpful, timely feedback to colleagues
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
- You make connections that others miss
- You seek to understand our members around the world, and how we entertain them
- You seek alternate perspectives
- You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable
- You make tough decisions without agonizing
- You take smart risks and are open to possible failure
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
- You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence
- You care intensely about our members and Netflix’s success
- You are tenacious and optimistic
- You are quietly confident and openly humble
- You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than what is best for yourself or your group
- You are open-minded in search of great ideas
- You make time to help colleagues
- You create new ideas that prove useful
- You re-conceptualize issues to discover solutions to hard problems
- You challenge prevailing assumptions, and suggest better approaches
- You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify
- You thrive on change
- You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures
- You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions
- You recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them
- You intervene if someone else is being marginalized
- You are curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us
- You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political
- You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face
- You admit mistakes freely and openly
- You treat people with respect regardless of their status or disagreement with you
- You always share relevant information, even when worrisome to do so
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
- You make your colleagues better
- You focus on results over process
You can read about these and more at Netflix’s official company culture page. Or check out CEO Reed Hastings’ culture deck from 2009 – the core tents of their culture have stayed remarkably stable over the years.