How Consumer Science Helped Netflix Grow to 72 Million Subscribers

Posted on September 15, 2020

In this episode of the GrowthTLDR, with talk to Gibson Biddle, who has led product for Netflix, Chegg, and advised companies like Metromile, NerdWallet, and more.

We talk to Gibson about why some companies manage to become so successful. We discuss the importance of product strategy, consumer science, and company culture.

We get into how consumer science was pivotal to Netflix’s success and why Netflix’s founder Reed Hastings was so focused on making it a core part of their companies culture.

We also get into a live case study to demonstrate how product leaders decide what features to launch and discuss how personal recommendations are why Netflix has become so dominant.



Time Stamped Notes:

[3:05] – Gibson feels the most successful companies excel at product strategy, consumer science (iteration and experimentation), and culture.

[5:55] – Gibson joined Netflix in 2005. They had one million customers, and the business model was centered around DVDs. Netflix launched streaming in 2007, and by 2010 it had evolved into a streaming company.

[9:00] – Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, wanted their leverage to come from consumer science. He wanted to have a culture of experimentation and iteration to better delight customers and translate that into revenue for the business.

When Gibson joined Netflix, one of his tasks was to instill a culture of experimentation and A/B testing into the product org.

[11:40] – Gibson talks about how the role of marketing and product has merged overtime. 

[13:30] – When at Netflix, Gibson discusses why they focused on acquiring and delighting new members vs. retaining existing members. They knew that was their path to being a large business.

[19:30] – Gibson brings us through a mini-case study of how great product leaders decide on what features to launch. We discuss the third party chrome extension ‘Netflix Party‘ and ask if Netflix should launch it. Listen to the full episode to hear the case study!

[25:00] – For new features to impact retention, those new features need to have high adoption rates by the existing userbase. 

[28:00] – Netflix’s friend feature didn’t work because so few people used it so that it couldn’t impact revenue retention. 

 [28:30] – Consumer science is the methodology of discovering what features will work for customers instead of guessing at it.

[29:00] – Personalization is the key to Netflix’s success. It delights customers, and it is impossible to copy because Netflix has such much data from its sizeable customer base.

[37:00] – We talk to Gibson about how he has continually picked successful companies to work at – Netflix, Chegg, NerdWallet, etc. The companies he worked at were heavily influenced by a small group of people, including successful VCs and his wife. Gibson advocates for people to be continual learners and to take on more risk.


– Gibson on Twitter / LinkedIn
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn
– Scott on Twitter / Linked