The online video streaming service sector is fierce with tremendous amounts of competition from both old and new companies vying for market share. In the last few years, many companies have entered the space, looking to avoid making the same mistake Blockbuster did all those years ago. Amazon, Disney, and Apple have all launched their own streaming services, hoping to get a piece of the pie. However, the company that truly started it all is the one that is still on top.

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) is the world's largest online video streaming service and domestic DVD-by-mail delivery service. The company has evolved into an internet television network creating its own brand of movies, series, and documentaries. It had approximately 183 million subscribers as of Q1 2020.

Netflix went public in 2002, with a stock price of $1.21. Its stock price didn't really start taking off until 2010, where its stock price ended the year at $25.10, nowhere close to its current price of $426.25, as of May 22, 2020.

The following are the top three shareholders of Netflix, followed by the largest institutional and mutual fund investors.

Reed Hastings

The CEO and founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, owns approximately 5.5 million shares indirectly through a trust along with 10.06 million in stock options giving him beneficial ownership of 2.28% of the company as of the company's last annual proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Hastings founded Pure Software in 1991 and sold his company to Rational Software in 1997 for nearly $750 million. Hastings teamed up with Marc Randolph to form Netflix in August 1997. Hasting financed the startup with $2.5 million in seed money as a service to rent and sell DVDs over the internet. With 30 employees and a catalog of 925 rental titles, Netflix officially kicked off its online service in August 1998. The company introduced its subscription-based DVD-by-mail rental plan in 1999. It went public in February 2002, and co-founder Marc Randolph cashed out and left the company to pursue other ventures. In 2003, Netflix reached the one million subscriber mark.

Hastings envisioned the future in on-demand video streaming as it cut out expenses such as postage, packaging, and warehouse storage for physical DVDs. As a result, Netflix launched an internet video streaming service option at no extra cost, which is what most people use today rather than the DVD rental service. 

Neil D. Hunt

Neil D. Hunt is the former chief product officer (CPO) at Netflix. Hunt owns 401,296 shares in addition to stock options to acquire 844,641 shares more. He had been with Netflix since 1999 and stepped down in 2017. Hunt led the product development team that designs and optimizes the Netflix service experience. He received various performance-driven stock and option grants in addition to his salary of $1 million and a bonus of $5.25 million in 2016. Prior to Netflix, Hunt had product development roles at Pure Atria, Rational Software, and Pure Software. He is also a non-executive board member of Logitech Inc. (LOGI).

Ted Sarandos

Ted Sarandos is Netflix's chief content officer. His ownership of 490,692 shares makes him the third-largest individual shareholder in the company. Sarandos has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000 and spearheaded the company's transition into original content starting 2013. His 20-year career in media and entertainment spans across many diverse roles including an executive at video distributor ETD and Video City/West Coast Video and an award-winning documentary producer.

Top Institutional Shareholders

In addition to corporate insiders, NFLX shares are owned in substantial quantities by institutional investors and mutual funds. As of March 30, 2020, non-mutual fund institutional ownership was dominated by Capital Research Global Investors, which owned more than 37 million shares or 8.62% of the company. The Vanguard Group owned more than 34 million shares or 7.76% of the company. Other large holders include BlackRock (6.46%) and FMR (5.08%).

In the mutual fund space, as of Dec. 30, 2019, the Growth Fund of America has 28.7 million shares (6.54%), the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index fund owns 12.3 million shares (2.81%), and the Vanguard 500 Index Fund has a 1.99% stake in the company with 8.76 million shares held.