Netflix Is Turning 20—But Its Birthday Doesn’t Matter

Brian BarrettJason ParhamBrian RafteryPeter Rubin, and Angela Watercutter
08.29.2017
Wired

A FEW YEARS ago, one eagle-eyed YouTube user uploaded a true internet find: a 1998 DVD-Rom ad for a new service called NetFlix.com. Over a swell of stringed instruments and a parade of movie posters from Raging Bull to Twins, the new DVD rental company explained itself (“You won’t have to search for a video store that carries more than a few titles”). “Holy S**t!” wrote one commenter. “They had Netflix in ’98?!” They sure did, Shadowkey392.

In fact, today marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of the company—August 29, 1997, is when Reed Hastings, flush off the sale of his company Pure Atria (nee Pure Software), cofounded it with his colleague Marc Randolph. It wasn’t even named Netflix then—it was called Kibble.

But August 29, 1997, is quite possibly the least important date in the company’s history. As the past 20 years has shown, Kibble evolved in some precipitous and unexpected ways. So rather than celebrating its birth, it might make more sense to highlight the many other dates that are truly worthy of commemoration—the ones that helped turn Netflix from a mail-order business to a cultural behemoth.

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