Netflix’s fabled “culture deck,” which over the years has taken on the meaning of Magna Carta in tech and business circles, has received a few updates reflecting the streaming giant’s current circumstances.
The document, based on a PowerPoint deck created by co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings, sets out principles that guide employee priorities and the company’s overall approach. It has been publicly displayed for years, revised at various intervals and viewed more than 20 million times. Its section headings (“Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled,” “Disagree Then Commit”) reflect some of the pillars of the company’s uniquely articulated culture. Hastings elaborated on many of these principles in his 2020 book: No rules rules.
A section titled “Judgement” adds a new bullet point to the imperative: “You spend our members’ money wisely.” At current levels estimated to be $20 billion in 2022, Content Netflix’s spending came under severe scrutiny after the company posted its first drop in subscribers in more than a decade in the first quarter and indicated further losses in the current quarter. More than two-thirds of its market value has disappeared in the last six months. While the company isn’t likely to radically cut spending, management has signaled a new commitment to cutting fat, and some shows and employees have already been laid off as that process begins.
Another newly updated section, “Artistic Expression”, indirectly references recent controversies over titles such as Sweet or Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The nearer. The latter, released last fall, sparked a violent backlash and a full-scale strike by employees outraged by Chappelle’s anti-transgender broadsides. Netflix resisted requests to withdraw the special from its service.
“Entertaining the world is a great opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and perspectives,” the section says. Ratings, content warnings and parental controls are all tools aimed at helping subscribers avoid content that may upset them, the document adds.
“Not everyone will like our service with everything – or agree with it,” it continues. “Although each title is different, we approach them based on the same principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we work with; we program for a variety of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers choose what’s appropriate for them, rather than having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”
diversity first reported on the update of the document.