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Netflix Sends Icahn a 'Welcome Wagon' of Sorts

2 Nov, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Carl Icahn

Netflix broke from policy by issuing a statement in support of investor Carl Icahn buying a 10% stake in the subscription video-on-demand rental pioneer.

“We have many shareholders, now including Mr. Icahn, and we’re always open to their perspective on how to build on our success,” the statement from a Netflix spokesperson reads.

Icahn’s stake trumps co-founder and CEO Reed Hasting’s holdings, a reality that underscores the mercurial investor’s probable desire to shake up the status quo at Netflix.

While several media pundits suggest the statement infers indifference on the part of Netflix and, more importantly, Hastings to Icahn’s interest in the service and SVOD, the fact Netflix responded at all is telling. The service has traditionally declined comment on market fluctuations and scuttlebutt. 

Indeed, Netflix did not offer initial comment more than a year ago when subscribers began abandoning the service in droves after it announced plans for a price hike and subsequent spin-off of its disc rental business.

As outrage from subscribers spilled over onto blog posts, Netflix appeared to shrug off the dissent as the grumblings of a disenchanted few.

“Change can be unsettling for some, but not the vast majority,” former spokesperson Steve Swasey wrote in an email at the time.

It was a sentiment echoed months before when Netflix tweaked user interfaces for streaming, which apparently slowed browsing content selections, among other gripes. The backlash then resulted in more 1,000 negative posts on fan site HackingNetflix.com, including this one:

“Thanks, now I can instantly determine that Netflix has nothing interesting to watch,” wrote Anonymous, who then added dozens of additional posts of anger.

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