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Barron’s: Netflix’s Hastings Among Best CEOs

29 Mar, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Barron’s March 29 included Netflix founder Reed Hastings among its annual selection of top 30 CEOs — a first-time honor for the chief executive of the Los Gatos, Calif.-based online DVD rental pioneer.

Citing the economic downturn and financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, the weekly business magazine said it sought leaders who had advanced their companies during the turmoil, including “feast[ing]” on the problems of competitors, among other traits.

Hastings joined a group that included Larry Ellison of Oracle, Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Co., and Gordon Nixon with Royal Bank of Canada, among other first-time honorees.

Characterizing Hastings as “not an obvious member of our elite group,” Barron’s said the executive, who has a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford, qualified by consistently defying doubters and short sellers (traders who profit when a company’s stock declines in value), to help Netflix supplant Blockbuster as the top DVD and video download rental business.

While it might be difficult to find many a naysayer during Netflix’s 11-year run of consecutive profitable quarters, or not question the company’s streaming prowess in the age of iTunes and Roxio CinemaNow, there is little doubt Hastings’ leadership attracts bright employees.

Indeed, one former executive, Mitch Lowe, is now president of Redbox, the leader in DVD kiosk rentals.

Notable returnees to the list included Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

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