Three things are happening in video delivery world that are colliding here:
People are “cutting the cord” as they become less dependent on cable for high quality content (due to things like YouTube and Netflix)
Because you’ve lost the “cable bundle” economics (where cable subscribers would cross-subsidize each other’s viewing — you pay because you really want ESPN & I pay because I really want HBO and, as a result, we both end up paying less for more content), video streaming services like Disney+ inevitably increase prices & introduce ad models to cover their (very high) cost (of content production). This naturally means new bundles will emerge as consumers look to find ways to pay less for more content.
High speed internet today is largely subsidized by the investments from cable industry to deliver video. If ‘cord cutting’ (as in canceling cable) continues, then eventually the cost of high speed internet will go up as it becomes the “main event” for the company’s financials. Given (2), I think this likely means “cable companies” will increasingly become “bundled internet + streaming service” companies soon.
All this is ironically not that different from the original cable bundle, only this time we have a few new logos (i.e. Netflix) and a little more price transparency since you can see what the unsubsidized streaming video service cost (i.e. Disney+, Hulu, etc.) would be outside of the bundle.
Charter is taking a page from the book of Amazon and Apple, allowing you to essentially combine your bills. Do you have to get Spectrum cable because that’s the only internet provider in town? Well, soon, you might be able to bundle in your Hulu with Live TV service, too. Multiple services, one bill. That’s a step up from the HBO situation where you’ll have to cancel HBO and then go subscribe directly to Max if you want the pricier 4K version of that service.
Company culture is a concept which, while incredibly difficult to explain or measure, is very important to a company’s well-being and employee morale. Too often, it comes in the form of vaguely written out “corporate mission statements” or never-ending lists of feel-good, mean-nothing “company values”. Oh joy, you value “teamwork” and “making money” – that was so insightful…
It was thus very refreshing for me to read the Netflix company culture document (sadly no longer embed-able, but you can find it at this Slideshare link).
Slidumentation aside, I think the NetFlix presentation does three things extremely well:
It’s not a list of feel-good words, but actual values and statements which can actually guide the company in its day-to-day hiring, evaluation. Most company culture statements are nothing but long lists of virtues and things non-sociopaths respect. “Teamwork” and “honesty”, for example, are usually among them. But, as the Netflix presentation points out, even Enron had a list of “values” and that wound up not amounting to much of anything. Instead, Netflix has a clear state of things they look for in their employees, each with clear explanations for what they actually mean. For “Curiosity”, Netflix has listed four supporting statements:
You learn rapidly and eagerly
You seek to understand our strategy, markets, subscribers, and suppliers.
You are broadly knowledgeable about business, technology, and entertainment.
You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
Admittedly, there is nothing particularly remarkable about these four statements. But what is remarkable is that it is immediately clear to the reader what “curiosity” means, in the context of Netflix’s culture, and how Netflix employees should be judged and evaluated. It’s oftentimes astounding to me how few companies get to this bare minimum in terms of culture documents.
Netflix actually gives clear value judgments. I’ve already lamented the extent to which company culture statements are nothing more than laundry lists of “feel good” words. Netflix admirably cuts through that by not only explaining what the values mean, but also by what should happen when different “good words” conflict. And, best of all, they do it with brutal honesty. For instance, Netflix on how they won’t play the “benefits race” that other companies play: A great work place is stunning colleagues. Great workplace is not day-care, espresso, health benefits, sushi lunches, nice offices, or big compensation, and we only do those that are efficient at attracting stunning colleagues.Netflix on teamwork versus individual performance:Brilliant jerks: some companies tolerate them, [but] for us, the cost to teamwork is too high.Netflix on its annual compensation review policy:Lots of people have the title “Major League Pitcher” but they are not all equally effective. Similarly, all people with the title “Senior Marketing Manager” and “Director of Engineering” are not equally effective … So, essentially, [we are] rehiring each employee each year (and re-evaluating them based on their performance) for the purposes of compensation.Within each of the three examples, Netflix has done two amazing things: they’ve made a bold value judgment, which most companies fail to do, explaining just how the values should be lived, especially when they conflict (“we don’t care how smart you are, if you don’t work well with the team, you have to go”), and they’ve even given a reason(“teamwork is more important to delivering impact for our customers than one smart guy”).
They explain what makes their culture different from other companies and why. Most people who like their jobs will give “culture” as a reason they think their company is unique. yet, if you read the countless mission statements and “our values” documents out there, you’d never be able to see that difference. Granted, the main issue may just be that management has chosen not to live up to the lofty ideals espoused in their list of virtues, but what might help with that and make it clearer to employees about what makes a particular workplace special is explaining how and why the company’s culture is different from another’s. Contrast that with the Netflix presentation, which spends many slides explaining the tradeoffs between too many rules and too few, and why they ultimately sided with having very few rules, whereas a manufacturing company or a medical company would have very many of them. They never go so far as to say that one is better than the other, only that they are different because they are in different industries with different needs and dynamics. And, as a result of that, they have implemented changes, like a simpler expense policy (“Act in Netflix’s best interests”) and a revolutionary vacation policy (“There is no policy or tracking”) [with an awesome explanation: “There is also no clothing policy at Netflix, but no one has come to work naked lately”].
Pay attention, other companies. You would do well to learn from Netflix’s example.