Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: 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 139 million monthly subscribers at the end of 2018 throughout 190 countries. Shares of NFLX were up more than 60% from January 1, 2018, through October 11, 2018.
The following are the top three shareholders of Netflix, followed by the top 3 institutional and mutual fund investors.
The CEO and founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, owns 5.5 million shares indirectly through a trust along with 5.2 million in stock options giving him beneficial ownership of 2.48% of the company as of the company's last proxy filing with the 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 1 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. (NASDAQ: LOGI).
Ted Sarandos is Netflix's chief content officer. His ownership of 497,699 shares makes him the third-largest individual shareholder in the company. Sarandos, 53, 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. In early 2019, non-mutual fund institutional ownership was dominated by The Vanguard Group which owned more than 30.7 million shares, or 7.04% of the company. Capital Research Global Investors owned more than 25.7 million shares or 5.88% of the company. Fidelity Management and Research owned 25.0 million shares (5.72%) and Blackrock claims 18.4 million shares (4.21%). In the mutual fund space, American Funds Growth Fund of America has 18.6 million shares (4.26%), the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index fund owns 11.1 million shares (2.54%), and the Fidelity Contrafund has a 2.11% stake in the company with 9.2 million shares held.