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Netflix & Scaling Culture

Former Vice President, Head of International Originals, at Netflix

IP Interview
Published on January 4, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • How Netflix maintained culture while scaling headcount and content globally
Executive Bio

Erik Barmack

Former Vice President, Head of International Originals, at Netflix

Erik was responsible for the strategy, team management, and production of Netflix Originals outside of the US. He managed over 40 production and finance executives and led the production of various critically acclaimed shows such as Dark and Casa de las Flores. He was a key figure in scaling Netflix globally to regions such as India, Mexico, and Europe where Netflix now produces tens of local language shows. Erik joined Netflix in 2011 as Global Content Director after spending six years leading ESPN Business Development. He left Netflix in April 2019 to launch his own development and production house of shows outside the US.

Interview Transcript

How did you maintain a creative culture as Netflix scaled content globally?

I liked being disruptive and boots on the ground. I liked being the first in at the market. But I think the right answer, ultimately, is that you try to empower people, in these regions, to make decisions and you hire really well. As you grow, your focus as a leader, is to inspire culture and then make sure that the bets are ambitious enough.

But as the business grew, I missed being involved in shows and finding new stuff. I’m probably happier doing what I am doing now. But preserving that culture is fundamental to that company’s success, for sure.

Did you have to put in processes, at some point, when you scaled from a couple of hundred to thousands of people?

No; I think it’s like American novelist, E. L. Doctorow’s analogy for writing a novel. He said you can drive hundreds of miles in the darkness, with just seeing what is 10 feet in front of you, with the headlights on. I think, as long as you have a good car and you have good people, you can make a bunch of good decisions, without putting tons of process in.

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