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Facebook board member Reed Hastings says companies like Facebook are trying to ‘grow up quickly’

Also, why Hastings considers Netflix to be “the anti-Apple.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sitting at a table talking to a third person
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Facebook board member Reed Hastings offered his first public comments on the scandal that has gripped Facebook over the last month — and cast the concerns about Facebook’s algorithms and data as part of how any young company matures over time.

“Social, with these platforms — whether that’s YouTube or Facebook — are clearly trying to grow up quickly. And you see that with all new technologies,” Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, said on stage at the TED conference on Saturday in Vancouver when asked what people should know about Mark Zuckerberg amid the recent controversies.

“I mean, yesterday we were talking about printed DNA. And it’s like, that could be fantastic or it could be horrific,” he continued. “When television was first popular in the 1960s in the U.S., it was called a vast wasteland. And television was going to rock the minds of everybody. And it turns out everybody’s minds were fine. There were some adjustments.”

“So I think of it as all new technologies have pro’s and cons. And in social we’re just figuring that out.”

Hastings said he did not feel that the company was being “completely unfairly” criticized and that Facebook leadership is taking it seriously — which is sync with the board’s other comment last month, a short voicing of support for Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as they tackled the mounting controversy involving GOP data firm Cambridge Analytica.

That drama of course eventually forced Zuckerberg last week to testify before Congress over the course of two days, during which he apologized and said Facebook would strive to do better to protect user data.

Facebook just announced in a filing on Friday that Hastings is up for renewal on the board at their upcoming annual meeting. Facebook is increasingly competing with Netflix as the social media company moves toward original video content, and there was some speculation that Hastings could step away from the board much like Sandberg this year said she would step off Disney’s board amid concerns about competition over content.

The Netflix chief is planning to spend $8 billion on original content this year — but he said that in a global context and when competing alongside giants like Disney “it’s not as much as it sounds.”

Hastings also offered a bit of detail on his unique management style. He called his company “the anti-Apple” because it shares so much sensitive information about its business across departments internally. (Facebook operates the same way.)

“We’re like the anti-Apple — you know how they compartmentalize,” he said. “We did the opposite — which is everybody gets all the information.”

And he explained that he tries to give his team enough responsibility and for him to not rock the boat at the streaming giant, which is now valued at $135 billion.

“I pride myself on making as few decisions as possible in a quarter,” Hastings said. “We’re getting better and better at that. Sometimes I can go a whole quarter without making any decisions.”

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