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That Will Never Work
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Listen in 20 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Mark Randolph

That Will Never Work

Netflix: an idea that becomes a success story

That Will Never Work is the story of the most significant steps in the creation of Netflix, as told directly by its co-founder and first CEO, Mark Randolph. From being the startup in 1997 that sent the first DVDs available in the market via post, to the great entertainment company that we know today, with more than 150 million subscribers, the Netflix story is proof that it is possible to revolutionise any sector, with grit and determination, starting from a simple idea, even when it seems as though it will never work.

That Will Never Work
Read in 16 min.
Listen in 20 min.

Be wary of lightbulb moments: good ideas don’t just pop up suddenly

Silicon Valley loves to tell stories of ideas that come about as if by magic in a moment of enlightenment. That’s just not how it works and Netflix is proof of that. The idea did not come all at once in a moment of divine inspiration, it did not just pop up ready-made, perfect and ready to roll out like a clear vision. The truth is that for every good idea there are at least a thousand that have no value at all and it is often difficult to distinguish between them, it takes time.

In 1997 Marc Randolph had just two things in mind: he wanted to start his own company and he wanted to sell something on the internet. It might seem strange that one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world is the fruit of such a train of thought, but that’s just how it went: the adventure began with the idea of selling personalised shampoo online and ends with the inception of Netflix! The extraordinary life of an idea is nothing more than a journey from a dream to reality. A dream that began with two friends in a car on their way to work bouncing ideas back and forth, loads of which were destined not to work, and ends up with the creation of a company that is floated on the stock exchange.

It is better to be cautious of those that talk about “enlightenment”: the best ideas don’t just come out of nowhere, they creep up slowly and gradually, over time. In fact it is often the case that you don’t realise just how good your idea is until a few months after it has knocked on the door of your imagination.


The key ideas of "That Will Never Work"

Be wary of lightbulb moments: good ideas don’t just pop up suddenly
Great ideas flow on the drive to work
The initial idea: sending DVDs in the post
Sharing an idea with a good team to develop it in the best possible way
Use other people’s money: the mantra of every business
The Netflix culture: freedom and responsibility come first
The launch of Netflix: an unexpected success that shorted the servers
Finding innovative solutions
Putting your ego aside for the good of the company
New ideas to test right away
You cannot predict the success of an idea because “nobody really knows anything”
The dot.com bubble and the price of success
The realisation of a dream: floating on the stock exchange
Randolph’s rules for success
Take-home message
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