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Elon Musk Praised As “The Bravest, Most Creative Person On The Planet” By Netflix Co-Chief Reed Hastings: “He Is Trying To Help The World”

Deadline
Deadline
 2022-11-30
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Elon Musk’s back may be against the wall as Twitter’s new owner, but he has plenty of friends in high places, especially in the tech sector.

Netflix co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings praised the Tesla billionaire as “the bravest, most creative person on the planet” during a wide-ranging session at the New York Times DealBook conference. “What he’s done in multiple areas is phenomenal.” Hastings hastened to add, “His style is different. I’m trying to be, like, a steady, respectable leader up here and he’s just out there .” he added, drawing a big laugh from the crowd at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

With the $44 billion he and his backers put into acquiring Twitter, Hastings said, Musk “could have built a mile-long yacht.” Instead, he wants to do “good for the planet.”

Asked by moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin whether he genuinely thinks that Musk is making a positive contribution to the planet, Hastings said he is “100% convinced that he is trying to help the world in all of his endeavors.” In regard to Twitter, the Netflix chief added, Musk “believes in free speech and the powers of democracy.”

While Hastings said he remains “deeply respectful” of Musk despite his eccentric methods, he expressed amazement that “people are sooo picky on, the blue check mark, and yes he’s making a mess of some things. Can you give the guy a break? This guy just spent all this money trying to make things better for democracy and society, to have a more open platform, and I am sympathetic to that agenda.”

In the same way Musk’s Twitter has faced criticism over its slackening content moderation, Netflix has been scrutinized over its decision to allow certain content to circulate on its platform. One lightning rod was Dave Chappelle’s 2021 comedy special The Closer , which included a significant amount of transphobic material. Asked about uproar both inside and outside the company over Chappelle, Hastings replied, “Our brand is trying to be the most exciting entertainment brand in the world and Chappelle is dead-center for us. He is the best, or one of the best and that special was one of the most entertaining and watched specials we’ve ever had. We would do it again and again.”

The 35-minute conversation covered considerable ground. Hastings hit on topics like Netflix’s ongoing investments in content (no change in the forecast), its potential interest in sports rights (“talk to me after we’re a success in gaming”), its addition of advertising (which the Co-CEO admitted he wished the company had done years ago) and its quest to limit password sharing. In addition to Musk, Hastings expressed his admiration for newly restored Disney CEO Bob Iger. The Netflix exec tweeted his regret that Iger will no longer be eligible to run for president in 2024. Bob Chapek, who was abruptly removed as CEO after a rocky stint of less than three years, was “very good, very disciplined” in Hastings’ view. “It’s not like we saw any cracks.”

Asked about the strategic hand Iger now faces, Hastings said, “It’s strong. It was strong before.”

As far as Netflix’s ad tier, which began rolling out earlier this month, Hastings admitted it was “wrong” for the company to spend so long stonewalling investors and the press when execs were asked whether they would consider jumping into the ad game. Despite the delay, he added, “we’ll catch up in a few years and we won’t remember when we started.”

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