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Netflix Going Postal

18 Jan, 2006 By: Holly J. Wagner

William J. Henderson

Netflix has hired former U.S. Postmaster General William J. Henderson as its new COO, where his expertise may have some unexpected benefits as well as those the company sought out.

Henderson, 58, assumes his new role Jan. 23 and succeeds Tom Dillon, 61, who led Netflix's operations since shortly after its 1999 launch and is scheduled to retire in April.

Henderson was COO of the United States Postal Service (USPS) from 1994 to 1998 and postmaster general and USPS CEO from 1998 until he retired in 2001. He was the 71st postmaster general of the United States and the fifth career employee to lead the world's largest postal system. At Netflix he will be responsible for managing and evolving the technology, automation and distribution operations supporting the company's rental business and will report directly to Netflix chairman and CEO Reed Hastings.

"Bill Henderson is about the only person on the planet who looks at our volume of mail as a trickle," Hastings said.

Netflix ships more than a million DVDs a day, but not every disc has arrived where it was supposed to.

A federal grand jury in Colorado recently indicted a contract mail carrier on four counts of stealing Netflix and Blockbuster mail-order rental discs and a fifth count of possessing them — 1,256 discs in all — taken from routes in Lyons, Colo.

Karen Durante, 24, of Loveland, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Investigators had been looking for 503 missing discs in the Lyons area between January and March of last year. That led them to a Lyons post office worker, Gloria Flores, who was caught with six stolen DVDs in her car. She later pleaded guilty to a single count of embezzlement and received three years' probation.

Investigators thought the problem was solved after Flores was arrested, but began investigating Durante in April because the thefts were still going on.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office prosecuting the cases had no information on what they were doing with the discs.

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