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Marc Randolph, Cofounder of Netflix, to be the Muma College of Business Thought Leader Series Speaker in February

By Keith Morelli

TAMPA (November 15, 2018) -- Marc Randolph knows how to put ideas into plans that result in reality. The cofounder of Netflix, and numerous other entrepreneurial endeavors, gives this advice to people with bright ideas: Run with them. Don’t try to be perfect. Change things along the way.

Randolph, a pop-culture game-changer, will be the second speaker in the Muma College of Business Thought Leader Series. His presentation is scheduled for Feb. 21,at the Oval Theatre in USF's Marshall Center, 4103 Cedar Circle. The inaugural guest of the series, Steve Wozniak, founder of the Apple computer, drew about 2,400 to the Yuengling Center this past February.

The event is free and open to the public but reservations are required.

To reserve tickets, visit  http://bit.ly/NetflixCofounder

The Muma College of Business Thought Leader Series was established to draw nationally recognized speakers, innovators, idea generators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, authors and "turn-around artists" in business and industry for informal talks that include questions from the audience. And Randolph fits all the qualifications.

He and Reed Hastings came up with the idea for Netflix in the late 1990s and melded new technology with an old standby. The initial plan was to mail, via the U.S. Postal Service, movie DVDs to members, who would watch them and mail them back. It would be years before the forward-thinking company would evolve into streaming movies, television shows, documentaries and award winning original programming into homes via modems and cable boxes. Netflix is widely credited for forging the path into this new realm that has revolutionized television viewing.

Randolph’s main advice to entrepreneurs, or to anyone who believes they have an idea that could turn into a successful business, is to act, even if you don't feel 100 percent ready. Don’t mull it over for years trying to perfect it before moving on it.

"There's nothing worse than the guy who, at the party, goes, 'Oh, I had that idea two years ago.' Well, then, why didn't you do something two years ago?" Randolph said in a CNBC interview in 2016. "If you have an idea and you don't take action, you're done."

Imperfections are not reasons to apply the brakes, he said.

When Netflix was founded by Randolph and Hastings, they attempted to perfect the idea before actually mailing out the discs. Self-doubt, he said, can paralyze the process.

“Until you put the idea out there and see it collide with the real world, you won't know what direction to go,” he said in the interview. “It's an iterative process: 'I have an idea; I find out why it's bad; I pivot it to something else; I find out why that's bad, and I keep doing that,' until – if you're lucky and persistent – eventually you find something which other people want."

Randolph believes constantly tweaking a product based on customer feedback is the only real way to achieve perfection.

"All the time we spent polishing,” he said, “was wasting time."

Randolph stayed on as CEO of Netflix until 2002, the year it went public. He remained on the board of directors until 2004 when he retired to pursue other business interests. 

Netflix, of course, grew to be a household name, a leading Internet entertainment service with 125 million memberships in more than 190 countries. From the beginning, Randolph and Hastings looked beyond mailing discs through the Post Office.

In a July interview for Julius Baer Group, Randolph said that the specific idea of streaming video to millions of people was not even a notion when Netflix was born.

“We knew that, in the future, the world would look very different and we needed to build a business that would work for that,” Randolph said in the interview. “If we’d said that Netflix was going to be the fastest and best shipper of plastic items [like DVDs], we would still have built the same company at first, but as the world transitioned away from DVDs to streaming, it would have ceased to be relevant.”

A broader perspective prevailed, he said, and Netflix was created to be “the best place to find things you wanted to watch.”

Randolph has had an active post-Netflix career. He has spent his time  advising startups, starting new businesses, and he is a sought-after keynote speaker who frequently shares his insight related to entrepreneurship and innovation.

“He’s been a founder of more than half a dozen other successful start-ups, a mentor to hundreds of early stage entrepreneurs, and an investor in numerous successful (and an even larger number of unsuccessful) tech ventures,” his webpage biography says. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a bachelor’s degree not in business, entrepreneurship or computer science, but in geology.

Randolph cofounded the analytics software company Looker Data Sciences and currently is an advisor to numerous other startups, serving as a mentor, executive coach and/or board member, his bio says. He also frequently delivers keynote speeches at industry events, works with young entrepreneurs and is a trustee of the non-profit National Outdoor Leadership School and the environmental advocacy group, One Percent for the Planet.

Randolph was born in Chappaqua, New York. His paternal great-grand uncle is Sigmund Freud. His interests early in life included the environment and while in college, he worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School, for which he now is a trustee. He has been married to Lorraine Kiernan Randolph since 1987. They have three children.