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That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  11,998 ratings  ·  1,016 reviews
In the tradition of Phil Knight's Shoe Dog comes the incredible untold story of how Netflix went from concept to company-all revealed by co-founder and first CEO Marc Randolph.Once upon a time, brick-and-mortar video stores were king. Late fees were ubiquitous, video-streaming unheard was of, and widespread DVD adoption seemed about as imminent as flying cars. Indeed, thes ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Sharon Orlopp
Buckle up for the ride!! Marc Randolph, founder of Netflix, takes readers on the wild roller coaster ride of startups. It took Netflix only four years from initial launch to going public. I recently worked at a tech startup that went public within four years and it is a crazy, heart thumping, tightrope-walking journey. This book reads like a corporate thriller with heart stopping twists and challenges.

When Netflix initially launched in April 1998, after twelve months of incredibly hard work, the
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pretty sure all the good reviews are from people the author knows. There’s no reason this book should be 13 hours long. The Epilogue was 30 minutes!! He drones on and on with personal stories, how he already has a few successful start ups, and tips for success. By the end I found him unlikeable and unrelatable.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

"[Author & screenwriter] William Goldman is most famous for writing three words: 'Nobody Knows Anything' . . . Nobody really knows how well a movie is going to do, until after it's already done it . . . [It] isn't an indictment. It's a reminder, an encouragement . . . you have to trust yourself. You have to test yourself. And you have to be willing to fail." -- the author, on pages 211-212

Marc Randolph's That Will Never Work is a book that untidily - though not really meant in a negativ
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating AND entertaining!

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I won this book in a giveaway. (Thank you Hachette Book Group!) I was a little worried I would find That Will Never Work a bit dry but I was totally wrong. I found myself smiling/chuckling many times as I was reading it. Marc Randolph SO has a way with words and if he ever writes another book, I will be first in line to read it.

I loved reading how Marc would pitch ideas (customized dog food, customized baseball bats, customized
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I tend to find Netflix a very interesting company and so the story itself is interesting. That said the writing style is such that I found myself skimming through large chunks of it without feeling like I was missing much. Lots of memoir-ish stuff that just added nothing.

If I didn’t find the topic particularly interesting I probably would have bailed on this one.
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was like listening to an annoying uncle brag about how good he is at business. It seems like he just wrote it so he could reminisce about the good old days.

It took him a long time tell stories we already know the end to. And some of his stories were so contrived. [My wife] said, "You look like a chameleon." In a way...I was!

I really thought this was going to be a book about Netflix (more like Creativity, Inc.). It was more like an autobiography. We never get to the streaming...it ends
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Some neat details about difficult moments in Netflix’s early history. Really great stories. But the author has a chip on his shoulder that interfered with my ability to trust the narrative. Careful lies of omission made me yearn for a less conflicted historian.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Got this from a work acquaintance as a Christmas gift. Not a fan. The author comes across as a giant money-obsessed douchebag, with chapter titles like "show me the money" and "how it feels to deposit a check for almost $2 million". Not relatable at all to the average non-millionaire, and comes off as flaunting wealth in a nation with millions of people unemployed, homeless and in poverty. Wish I could return this trashy book. ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the main things I wanted to note from this book is that being an entrepreneur is a lot easier when you've a wad of cash behind you. Jeff Bezos was given some "seed capital" by his folks to start Amazon, the not unforgettable sum of three hundred grand. To be fair, Marc Randolph is very open about the fact that Netflix was funded initially by family and friends - or rather, make that "friend", his main partner Reed Hastings. Of the two million dollars "raised" to kick off the idea of renti ...more
Sam Ng
Dec 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really don't get all the glowing reviews. It's one thing to write a book sharing your experiences and some vague, common sense "success tips". On the other hand, I really doubt someone is going to give away the very business strategies that, say, a father would pass down to his son. This would only generate more competition to himself and would not be very bright! So don't expect anything like that in this book.

Another consideration that wasn't really touched on in this book is that networking
Melissa Borsey
Aug 09, 2022 rated it liked it
Honestly, I’m not sure why I thought this book would be a good idea. It’s long, boring, and basically you need friends/family with lots of money-not very inspiring. I thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I generally don't care for business books, but Marc Randolph's story of Netflix hit home, as I was part of the Blockbuster group working directly for Wayne Huizenga in the very early days (way before the company was sold, moved to Dallas post 1994 and ruined). Didn't have to be that way. Classic story of a big company's failure to adapt. But more importantly, classic story of a small company's will to adapt, survive and prosper. Kudos Marc. I wish we worked together back then. ...more
Allegra Shaw
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So good. Great insight into Marc Randolphs brain, how he thinks and works. Lots of great ideas to implement into your own business!
Florin Pitea
Oct 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is so good, it's a small wonder it is still legal. Informative. Enjoyable. Highly recommended for binge-reading. ...more
J. Aleksandr Wootton
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: job
Engaging, well-told. Great prose. And lots of fun to read.

Was NetFlix - AKA "movie rental by mail" a good idea? Maybe. Maybe not. But it wasn't a bad idea. And if there was a way to make it work, Randolph and his team were determined to find it...

Thanks to streaming, NetFlix is now nearly as ubiquitous as in-home TV. But it was born from a litter of bad ideas, and its early days were marked by experimenting with more of the same. Its business model was incredibly vulnerable, especially after the
Shawn Rapier
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Ok book. I enjoyed hearing about the start of Netflix but it got bogged down. It was like the author wasn't sure if he was writing a business book, a biography or a company story. There were parts I loved but others I sped through just to be done. ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting story, painfully folksy book.
Fefyy Antela
I REALLY enjoyed this book.

It was fascinating to learn more about the beginning of [probably] the biggest entertainment institution in our modern days 😄
Farisha Ruzaini
Sep 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
First thing first, my dad would be so proud of he knows I had read something very educational, not lovey dobey stuff. Haha! Honestly, the reason I bought this book at the first place because it cost me RM19.90. So, I was like "why not, give it a chance". Well, what can i say, it worth every penny.

It all started Last two nights (I think) before I went to bed - I read a few pages and I can't stop reading it. Highlighting good points, googling the meaning of each jargon words, making notes on how c
I am a Netflix user, even though it is through my friend's account lol. I wanted to read about the birth of Netflix, how it started and what led this revolution on how we now consume content. I loved that Marc Randolph gave us an in-depth look into Netflix was the idea stage, before capital was involved, people were hired and the first DVD purchased.

A lot happened to get this giant company started and it was great getting insights into what makes and break a start-up. Culture of course is a hug
Sebastian Gebski
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is very different from other well-known titles about Netflix (Powerful, No Rules Rules). It's not a book about growth or culture. It's a personal story about founding the company - a start-up, to be precise.

It's about playing bold, facing uncertainty, searching for a market, and revealing the product's identity. About picking the correct people, making hard decisions, events, and encounters that have gelled the 'early team' together.

It covers the very early days only (because Randolph
Kriti Saxena
Apr 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Tightly written, this succinct account of how Netflix came to be the phenomenon it is today is written in a light tone that manages to still convey the oft-heard messages like "Keep trying till you succeed" and "Nothing is an overnight success" without sounding tiring.

Key takeaway? Nobody knows Anything.
Hiran Venugopalan
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sep 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. Uninspiring and lacklustre- nothing like Phil Knight’s memoir
Sagar Chamoli
Feb 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
4 stars


The book is the journey of Marc Randolph who was 1st CEO and co founder of online streaming platform Netflix. The book starts with how Marc and other co founder Reed Hastings wanted to start with some business that could scale up and something customer can come back to them again. After brainstorming through multiple ideas they landed up on DVD rental through postal and that's how Netflix was born.

Initially the model had some flaws but with passing time they got better and started
Ultra Lady
Sep 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, library
I really enjoyed this memoir. It is also the first audiobook my husband and I listened to together, on two long drives. So great that this was narrated by the author and founder of Netflix!

Marc Randolph has a great way of telling stories, his story to be precise, and he seems to be a likeable, empathetic, compassionate leader in the tech industry, which is really nice to hear.

We live in Santa Cruz (previously in Mountain View), where Marc Randolph started Netflix, so the many locations around t
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Nice, short and informative read about the founding and initial stages of development of Netflix.
Between the pages we meet again some of the well known heroes of the Silicone Valley such as Jeff Bezos.
Nov 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
i will never read another book about business again ever in my life and you can quote me on that
Vicky Pilkington
Oct 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and inspiring read from the guy who founded Netflix.
Sumedh Mool
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book was supposed to be about how netflix came into being and evolved in its early days. But the author, who is the co-founder of Netflix, delves too much into the details about his personal life while not doing justice to the central idea on which the book was expected to be based on.
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Goodreads Librari...: please combine editions 3 10 Jan 04, 2021 12:24AM  

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