Review of That Will Never Work

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In 1997, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph batted around start-up ideas on their commute to Silicon Valley. Randolph kept pitching, despite constantly hearing objections like “that will never work.” He hit on renting movie DVDs by mail. Despite naysayers, Netflix launched in 1998. Randolph, its first CEO, tells the entertaining story of its success, from ideas he and Hastings sketched on dinner napkins to 2002’s $80 million dollar IPO. He writes with the “radical honesty” that is the mainstay of Netflix culture. You’ll learn a lot – although Randolph left Netflix in 2003, so Hastings will have to write the sequel. 

About the Author

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph invests in start-ups and mentors entrepreneurs.


Getting to a good idea takes hard work and systematic vetting. 

Marc Randolph remembers how he pitched start-up ideas as he and Reed Hastings carpooled to work in 1997. The author admits that most of his ideas were bad. Hastings’s company, which had recently acquired Randolph’s company, was merging with another firm. In four months they’d both be out of work, but with money to invest in a new venture.

Randolph knew their future was in internet sales, but says that’s all they knew. Hastings had gone back to school to study education. He wanted to change the world. Randolph was passionate about starting a new company. He had talked two valued employees into moving to the West Coast with him, and he wanted to keep his core team together. He describes how he depended on Christina Kish for project management and Te Smith for PR and press. They helped him vet ideas to pitch to Hastings.

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