The birth of Netflix Right Here in Santa Cruz / Scotts Valley


 | September 24, 2019

We have been reading the new book by Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix – That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea. What a great story! Not only is it a must read for anyone starting a business but it’s a great read for local Santa Cruz residents since Marc Randolph mentions locations in town throughout the book where key points in the evolution of Netflix occurred. We have included some images and captions from Randolph (Source – LinkedIn) as well as a few we found to fill in the gaps.

This cafe at the top of Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz is where Reed Hastings and I hashed out ideas in the winter of 1997, including this crazy one: What if we rented DVDs by mail? (It was at Lulu Carpenter’s on Pacific Ave)
This used record store (LOGOS) is where Reed Hastings and I bought a CD (Patsy Cline, I recall). While he cracked open the clamshell, I went to Paper Vision and bought a pink envelope. In went the CD. On went the stamp, and we mailed our first CD.
Paper Vision was where Randolph bought the pink envelope to
test / mail the their first CD.
My favorite post office in the world and not just because of its grandeur. The Santa Cruz post office is where we mailed the CD that demonstrated that this crazy idea just might work!
Guess where I am? The equipment room at the Scotts Valley Best Western—and the site of the very first hashtag#Netflix office. We rented their conference room for $250 a week before we could afford real office space.
Our first Netflix office— when we were finally able to move out of the Best Western conference room—was a far cry from a glittering corporate campus. Here it is. I confess—at the time the lease on this place seemed exorbitantly expensive.
The post office in Scotts Valley where the first day of DVD orders came though (137 orders). The cut off time was 3:00 to get the DVD’s out. The Netflix team made it with minutes to spare.
Why wait for DVDs in the mail when you could drive to Blockbuster? Back in the day, brick-and-mortar Blockbuster was our biggest competitor, a behemoth it was crazy to think we’d ever topple. Now, what used to be the Scotts Valley Blockbuster is an auto parts store.

Get the book here: That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea

About the Author

Marc Randolph is a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, advisor and investor. Marc was co-founder of Netflix, serving as their founding CEO, as the executive producer of their web site, and as a member of their board of directors.

Although best known for starting Netflix, Marc’s career as an entrepreneur spans more than four decades. He’s founded or co-founded more than half a dozen other successful start-ups, mentored rising entrepreneurs including the co-founders of Looker Data which was recently sold to Google for $2.6B, and invested in numerous successful tech ventures.

He is a frequent speaker at industry events, works extensively with young entrepreneur programs, sits on the board of the environmental advocacy group 1% for the Planet, and chairs the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Board of Trustees. He speaks frequently to companies and at industry events nationally and internationally. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

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  1. Hi Mark,
    Congrats and thanks for the beautiful
    pictures of you in our beloved town of Scotts Valley. I’ve been here 45 yrs..
    My daughter and son in law and Nathan
    Katz have hosted your son and your family has hosted my grandson Nathan.
    Sincerely Angela Cadile,
    Gina Katz’s mother

  2. That Irishman movie is premiering soon I think. I guess it’s premiering on Netfix? I’m most excitited by the fact that it was produced by Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. I really love those guys.

  3. Many months later, when the Netflix idea was already well underway, Randolph learned exactly how lucky they had been. He writes in that he was given a tour of the Santa Cruz post office and discovered that cross-town mail was handled in a different way—a gentler way—than out-of-town mail. If they had mailed Patsy Cline to anywhere else than Hastings’s Santa Cruz address, even to Randolph’s Scotts Valley home, the CD would probably have gotten scratched or broken. “And I wouldn’t be writing this book,” he wrote.

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