Summary List Placement
When Netflix is faced with a big, agenda-setting decision, it convenes a special team of 23 business heads to debate the issue at hand.
This team helped shaped recent company moves, like the decisions to open an office in Canada and to invest $100 million in Black-led banks and financial institutions, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed to Insider.
The group known internally as the “Lstaff ” — the L stands for leadership — sits between the company’s officers and its larger executive staff of vice presidents and above that are called the “Estaff.”
Co-CEO Reed Hastings mentioned the Estaff in his recent book about Netflix’s corporate culture. They typically meet a few times a year for a full day during Netflix’s Quarterly Business Reviews, which are for employees that are director-level and above.
The Lstaff is more exclusive, made up of select department heads with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and remits within the company.
It consists of Netflix’s eight C-suite execs including co-CEOs Hastings and Ted Sarandos, as well as other 15 other business leads like Maria Ferreras, who heads up business development; Minyoung Kim, vice president of content for, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; and Vernā Myers, who leads inclusion strategy.
While the group isn’t new, Netflix only recently began referencing the team in its communications.
About 48% of the group, or 11 of its 23 members, identify as women, a company spokesperson confirmed. The same share of women made up Netflix’s overall leadership, directors and above, as of October, according to a January report by the company.
That’s significantly greater representation of women than the gender makeup at other Hollywood studios, where a 2020 UCLA study of 11 studios found that 80% of the senior executives were male. Across corporate America, a 2020 McKinsey report showed that women made up 28% of senior-vice-president positions and 21% of C-suite execs.
Netflix has been vocal about its efforts to improve representation on screen and within its ranks. It published in January a report that detailed its progress among representation of women and Black talent in top roles. The report also highlighted that Hispanic or Latinx and other groups were still underrepresented among leadership.
The discourse around inclusion progress comes at a time when such topics are in the public eye. It’s also significant because researchers and advocates and Hollywood have argued that having more people from underrepresented groups in positions of power can help improve inclusion both on screen and behind the scenes.
An overview of Netflix’s Lstaff and the perspective each leader brings follows (ordered alphabetically by last name):
Bela Bajaria, vice president, global TV
Bela Bajaria became one of the most powerful content execs in TV last year when she was elevated to vice president, overseeing all of global TV for Netflix.
Bajaria was promoted after content chief Ted Sarandos became co-CEO in 2020 and shook up the ranks in part to reflect Netflix’s growing global focus.
She has since made her mark on the content team, restructuring the growing division to include units responsible for big franchises, events, and overall deals, in addition to genres like dramas, comedies, and unscripted series.
Bajaria had been a rising star within Netflix since joining the company from Universal TV in 2016, after selling series like “Master of None” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to the service.
Bajaria previously oversaw non-English TV originals at Netflix. She also led a team that licensed series and movies from major US studios and worked on original coproductions. She spearheaded the colicensing model that saw series like the CW’s “Riverdale” and CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery” branded as Netflix originals outside of the US. And she oversaw Netflix’s recent foray into unscripted originals with shows like “Queer Eye” and “Nailed It.”
Maria Ferreras, global head of business development
Maria Ferreras knows the ins and outs of Netflix’s business relationships, as the company’s global head of business development.
Based out of the company’s Amsterdam offices, Ferreras oversees all Netflix’s partnerships, such as its pacts with telecoms like Orange and Sky that have helped the company grow its footprint in Europe.
The former Googler joined Netflix in 2017 after a decade as director of partnerships for YouTube for Southern Europe and emerging markets.
She previously led business development for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Netflix, before taking on the expanded remit as global lead.
Bryony Gagan, vice president, business and legal affairs
Bryony Gagan oversees all of Netflix’s content deals.
She is the vice president of business and legal affairs who handles content production, acquisition, and distribution. She oversees the company’s labor relations, music business and legal affairs, and intellectual property groups, as well.
Gagan’s role within Netflix has become pivotal as original content plays a larger role within the business.
She joined Netflix in 2008, when Netflix had just introduced streaming and before it started commissioning its own programming.
Before Netflix, she was senior counsel at the video-technology company DivX, Inc., where she managed content- and tech-licensing deals with consumer-electronics makers.
Dean Garfield, vice president, public policy
Dean Garfield is a top lobbyist at Netflix. He was brought on in 2019 as vice president to help build out the company’s global public policy.
Based in Amsterdam, Garfield has focused his recent attention on Europe. Netflix has expanded its lobbying efforts in the region as it boosts production there in part to comply with EU policy that mandates at least 30% of its content originates from Europe, and responds to local regulators calling for a “Netflix tax” on streaming revenues, as The Hollywood Reporter has detailed.
Garfield joined Netflix in 2019 after spending a decade running the Information Technology Industry Council, an advocacy group that represents big tech on the global stage. He was also on the US president’s Trade Advisory Council under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
Garfield has prior experience in the entertainment industry as well. He spent five years at the Motion Picture Association of America and four years at the Recording Industry Association of America.
Reed Hastings, co-CEO and chairman
Co-CEO and chairman Reed Hastings has been with Netflix since its inception. He cofounded the business in 1997 and has run it as CEO for much of his tenure.
Hastings was instrumental in company-defining and industry-leading moves, like formalizing Netflix’s workplace culture around the tenets of “freedom and responsibility.”
He also shepherded Netflix through massive strategic shifts including its transition from a DVD-by-mail business to streaming, push into original programming, and global expansion.
As a leader, Hastings has said he prides himself as making as few decisions for the company as possible, preferring to empower employees to make what they think are the best choices for the business. That thinking could have played into the establishment of the inter-disciplinary Lstaff.
Last year, Netflix’s long-time content chief Ted Sarandos joined Hastings as co-CEO of the company, creating a rare dual-leadership model that Hastings said could be “incredibly powerful” when you have two leaders who work as well together.
Hastings, who founded and sold software startup Pure Software before Netflix, brings his tech and business acumen to the entertainment firm while Sarandos has helped chart its course as a content company.
Bill Holmes, vice president, strategy and partnerships
Bill Holmes helped forge many of Netflix’s relationships with consumer-electronics giants like Apple, Samsung, and Sony.
Holmes spent about 12 years at Netflix in that capacity running business development, before being stepping up this year into a broader role as vice president of strategy and partnerships.
Netflix’s deals with electronics makers are key to it landing distribution on all the major devices around the world, and have been foundational in emerging markets like Brazil to building a market for streaming video.
Holmes joined Netflix in 2008 by way of the video-technology company DivX, Inc., where he was responsible for its partnerships and co-marketing with consumer-electronic brands.
David Hyman, chief legal officer
Netflix’s longtime legal chief David Hyman, who has been general counsel since 2002, oversees all legal and public policy at the streaming company.
Hyman oversees the company’s licensing and talent deals, an acquired skill set that Netflix opened a production legal lab to train young lawyers for; legal issues as varied as a lawsuit over the depiction of Sherlock Holmes in “Enola Holmes” and a charge against Netflix in Texas tied to the film “Cuties”; and helps the company navigate the legal waters abroad.
Hyman, a Washington, DC native, cut his teeth as general counsel during the dotcom bust at a failing online grocer, Webvan, before landing the Netflix job in 2002. He joined the company as it was preparing to go public.
Minyoung Kim, vice president, content
Minyoung Kim is Netflix’s content lead for key Asian markets including Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, where the company is boosting content production.
Kim told Bloomberg in December that Netflix planned to double spending on original content in Asia next year, as it faces stiffer competition from international rivals like Disney and Amazon as well as local competitors like Tencent’s WeTV.
Kim previously built out Netflix’s first slate of original programming in Korea, including shows like the zombie period drama “Kingdom” that amassed big audiences locally and abroad. Netflix said in January that it would be opening two new production locations in Korea to keep up with the demand for local productions.
Kim was one of Netflix’s earliest content execs in Asia, first based out of Singapore. She joined the streaming company in 2016, after it expanded its service to much of the globe.
Before Netflix, she spent three years at Twitter where she was in charge of content partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, worked at NBCUniversal in France and entertainment company CJ E&M in Korea, and got her start in the industry at an independent TV company.
Vernā Myers, vice president, inclusion strategy
Vernā Myers joined Netflix in 2018 to spearhead its inclusion strategy.
The vice president of inclusion strategy leads a team of 17 staffers charged with integrating cultural diversity, inclusion, and equity into Netflix’s operations, including sitting in on meetings to help spot biases or explain how a decision may impact underrepresented groups.
Myers has pushed all the leaders within Netflix to think with the kind of “inclusion lens” her team brings to those meetings. She’s held workshops, for example, to train executives to identify their own privileges and how their experiences could influence their viewpoints.
Under her leadership, Netflix increased Black representation to 8% of its US-based staff as of October, up from 3.8% in 2017, a January report showed. But Myers also wrote in the same report that the company still needs to do better recruiting Hispanic or Latinx and other underrepresented talent, and learning more about inclusion outside of the US.
Jessica Neal, chief talent officer
Jessica Neal oversees culture, recruiting, and human resources for Netflix, which employs more than 9,400 staffers around the world.
Neal is a Netflix veteran, who has been with the company since 2006, minus a four-year detour at ed-tech company Coursera and then mobile-gaming publisher Scopely.
She rejoined Netflix in 2017 to lead HR for the product-engineering team, and was promoted to chief talent officer later that same year.
Neal is responsible for building and fostering Netflix’s growing workforce. She is also the steward of the company’s controversial corporate culture, which has been characterized by radical “freedom and responsibility” and groundbreaking policies like unlimited vacation, but also by brutal transparency as described in a 2018 Wall Street Journal report. Co-CEO Reed Hastings unpacked some of the thinking behind the company’s policies in his 2020 book with Erin Meyer, “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.”
Neal also said in a 2018 interview: “Usually people are very scared about feedback, but we try to make that part of our everyday way of working. We’re also a testing culture. We’re not afraid to fail; it’s all about learning. If we get down a path that we think is the wrong way, we can easily turn around and change it.”
Spencer Neumann, chief financial officer
Chief financial officer Spencer Neumann is helping transition the streamer’s financial operations to support its growing global content ambitions.
Since joining Netflix from video-game publisher Activision Blizzard in 2018, Neumann has pushed the company toward self-funding its operations, a milestone Netflix’s rising stock suggests investors are looking forward to as well.
Over the past decade, Netflix took on billions in debt and burned through cash to foot its content bill.
It told investors this year for the first time that it expects to break even with cash flow and be cash-flow positive after 2021. It also said it doesn’t expect to need any more outside financing beyond its $15.8 billion long-term debt load.
Neumann works out of Netflix’s Los Angeles offices and was tapped, in part, for his experience with production finance. Before Activision Blizzard, he worked at Disney for stretches dating back to 1992, with stints at private-equity firms in between.
Greg Peters, chief operating and product officer
Greg Peters has perhaps the largest role at Netflix after co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos.
As operating and product chief, he oversees a lot of the details that go into making the service a success, from pricing the service for subscribers around the world to experimenting with new features like a linear stream, as well as the global company’s overall operations.
Peters, who has been chief product officer since 2017, was handed the extra chief-operating-officer duties in July. He’s since had a mandate to spend more time at Netflix’s various offices around the world to improve how the teams work together, a responsibility that previously fell to co-CEO Reed Hastings. Peters had some experience with this already, having helped launch and leading Netflix Japan earlier in his career.
“In his new role, I want Greg to take on more of this work so that we continue to improve rapidly,” Hastings said. “Eventually he needs to know every corner of Netflix better than I do today.”
Peters has been with Netflix since 2008. He led international development in an earlier role, where he helped build relationships between the streaming company and consumer-electronics manufacturers, internet providers, and TV operators.
Francisco Ramos, vice president, Latin American content
Francisco Ramos is a seasoned TV exec who is responsible for Netflix’s content across Latin America, including both original and licensed fare.
Ramos is focused on bringing in more local-language programming from regions from Mexico to Spain, where Netflix established its first European production hub and birthed global franchises like “Money Heist.”
He recently said his team is looking in 2021 for more documentary films and series, among other programming.
Netflix has prioritized developing more local-language content that speaks to different cultures around the world, as it’s said those kinds of stories tend to travel better.
Ramos joined Netflix in 2017 and was promoted to vice president of Latin American content in 2019.
He started his career in Spain, where he worked at media conglomerate Grupo Zeta, network Antena 3 Television, and distributor Aurum Producciones. He was also an independent producer.
Amy Reinhard, vice president, studio operations
Amy Reinhard is a key content exec at Netflix who oversees studio operations and consumer products.
As vice president of studio operations, a role she took on last year, her purview includes Netflix’s physical production, production facilities, and creative services like casting and intellectual-property management.
She is also in charge of licensing TV shows and films from outside studios and from local producers in Latin America, Europe, Africa, The Middle East, and India.
Reinhard, who joined Netflix in 2016, was previously vice president of content acquisition.
She spent nearly 12 years before Netflix at Paramount Pictures, most recently as president of worldwide TV licensing and distribution.
Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer
Netflix recruited in 2020 former Apple, Uber, and Endeavor marketing executive Bozoma Saint John to be its chief marketing officer.
Before she became the steward of the Netflix brand, Saint John earned a reputation during her 20-year career for her ability to tie brands like Pepsi and Apple to cultural trends, as Insider reported. She’s also known as outspoken and a role model for women of color, who are largely underrepresented in the senior ranks of corporations.
Saint John, who will publish a memoir in 2020, hasn’t spoken much publicly about her plans to reshape Netflix’s marketing approach.
But, since her appointment, the streaming service has continued to release and promote series and films that reflect the zeitgeist, and stand out with subscribers at a moment when they have more streaming services to choose from than ever.
Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer
Ted Sarandos built Netflix into a force in Hollywood, and last year, the chief content officer took on the role of co-CEO, underscoring the value of content and Sarandos’ contributions to the company during his tenure.
Sarandos architected Netflix’s rise in original programming, launching its first slate of original programming in 2013. He helped prove that Netflix could compete with storied movie and TV studios like HBO and Disney, not only in buzz but in critical acclaim.
Netflix routinely releases originals that set the cultural conversation like the romance series “Bridgerton,” and films that amass blockbuster-sized audiences like the Chris Hemsworth-starring “Extraction.” The streamer has become a staple at the Emmys, and has made some headway at the Oscars (though the top prize of best picture has so far eluded it). And it’s become a home for top talent from showrunner Shonda Rhimes to director Martin Scorsese.
Sarandos recently shook up Netflix’s content leadership ranks to raise the profile of global-oriented leaders like Bela Bajaria, who now oversees global TV, and Scott Stuber, who is responsible for original films. Both execs are also in the Lstaff.
Recently, Netflix has been driving the market for international content. Its local productions are winning over bigger international audiences, like the Spanish series “Money Heist” and French series “Lupin.” And the company plans to boost its original content spending in key international regions like Asia.
Caitlin Smallwood, vice president, data and insights
Caitlin Smallwood has led various data-science functions at Netflix for the past decade.
As vice president of data and insights, Smallwood currently oversees the data engineering, internal metrics, statistical research, consumer research, and models that shape Netflix’s internal applications and its service.
Smallwood has said one of her focuses is using machine learning to help scale the service, as it expands more people around the world.
Before Netflix, Smallwood worked at companies including Intuit and Yahoo.
Scott Stuber, vice president, original film
Veteran film producer Scott Stuber is the top film exec at Netflix. He leads the development, production, and acquisition of the streamer’s movie slate, as vice president of original film.
The former Universal Studios exec joined Netflix in 2017 to develop movies that could compete with theatrical releases from major US studios.
Netflix has since moved from small-budget indies like “Beasts of No Nation” and goofball comedies from Adam Sandler, to more Oscar-worthy fare like “The Two Popes” and “Marriage Story.” (It still does the Sandler comedies, however.) When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters last year, Netflix also dominated the summer movie season with action flicks like “Spenser Confidential,” “Extraction,” and “The Old Guard.”
Stuber brings with him Hollywood connections, as well as a working knowledge of both the executive and creative worlds. He founded and ran Bluegrass Films before Netflix, and was the former vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Studios.
In addition to overseeing Netflix’s film slate, Stuber has continued to experiment with theatrical distribution, releasing some films in theaters for short windows or on the same day they’re released on streaming, even amid the pandemic.
Rachel Whetstone, chief communications officer
Rachel Whetstone has led communications at Netflix since 2018.
The chief communications officer brought with her key international experience as Netflix expanded onto a larger global stage, as well as a cool head in a crisis.
Before Netflix, Whetstone was vice president of communications at Facebook during Cambridge Analytica and other scandals, Uber during its Travis Kalanick days, and Google for a decade including when the European Union was trying to limit the tech company’s power in search.
Mark White, vice president, engineering
Engineering vice president Mark White runs the group responsible for the content-discovery experience on Netflix.
He oversees the algorithms that power the personalized recommendations and overall experience on the service, its API, its content-creation tools, and the e-commerce experience where people can sign-up for or manage their subscriptions.
White has been with Netflix since 2007, and was previously vice president of product engineering.
White joined Netflix from Paypal and previously worked at Intuit.
Allison Wright, vice president, talent
Allison Wright, vice president of talent, leads the human-resources teams that support the production, animation, and HR groups at Netflix, which gives her a direct line into each of those business units.
She also works directly with senior leadership as a business partner, which is an HR rep who helps match a unit’s staffing and management with its business needs.
Before Netflix, Wright held HR and organizational roles across a range of industries, including video games, music, retail, hospitality, and healthcare.
Wright is also a member of the Board of Trustees for The Actor’s Fund, an organization that helps provide emergency financial assistance, housing, healthcare, and other services to people in entertainment fields.
Todd Yellin, vice president, product
Netflix’s longtime vice president of product, Todd Yellin, keeps Netflix on the cutting edge of how people find and stream video over the internet.
His team is in charge of the user interface on the service, be it through smart TV sets or mobile phones. He also oversees member acquisition and how to leverage social and messaging. And he’s responsible for studio technology including tools that help creators tell interactive stories like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”
During his time at Netflix, Yellin first imagined its system of categorizing titles with tags that capture the nuance of genre and narrative, such as “dark,” “suspenseful,” or “irreverent,” which still fuels Netflix’s algorithms today.
Yellin, who is a former filmmaker and critic, has been with Netflix for 15 years and held his current role since 2014.
Mark Yurechko, vice president, strategy, planning, and analysis
Mark Yurechko knows the nitty gritty of Netflix’s operations that the public rarely gets to see, including analyzing company financials to set Netflix’s earnings targets and helping ensure that its hefty content budget is going to good use.
Yurechko, a vice president, runs the strategy, planning, and analysis group that handles planning and forecasting for the business, analysis and scenario modeling for major corporate moves, and financial forecasting.
His team also oversees content strategy and analysis, which includes determining the appropriate budget for a project, assessing its performance, and analyzing what Netflix’s competitors are up to.
Yurechko spent nine years at Deloitte Consulting before he came to Netflix in 2011.
Read more Source: businessinsider.com