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Dec 23, 2020

Netflix Chief Reed Hastings collects US$225 million in stock sale

Jennifer Radman discusses Netflix

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Netflix Inc.’s Reed Hastings just pocketed US$225 million from a stock sale, the latest in a series of such transactions the billionaire has made this year totaling US$616 million.

Hastings has collected enough cash in 2020 to produce all four seasons of “The Crown,” at least six seasons of “Game of Thrones” or the equivalent of about 4.7 million annual Netflix subscriptions, based on average monthly subscription costs. The sales, the latest of which was Dec. 21, were made as part of a trading plan.

Hastings, the Los Gatos, California-based firm’s co-chief executive officer, has seen his wealth increase about US$2.2 billion this year to US$6.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. He received about US$39 million in total compensation in 2019.

The streaming service has added 28.1 million new subscribers in the first nine months of 2020, fueled by increased demand for at-home entertainment during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The stock has climbed 63 per cent this year.

Hastings, 60, founded his first tech business, Pure Software, in 1991, before going on to co-found Netflix with Pure colleague Marc Randolph in 1997.

Another former Netflix director, Roku Inc. co-founder Anthony Wood, has also seen his fortune soar during the pandemic. Wood’s wealth has doubled in the last three months as sales of the firm’s streaming players increased 57 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier. More than a third of smart televisions sold in the U.S. this year have the Roku operating system, according to a company report.

Roku shares have soared 165% this year, pushing Wood’s net worth to US$7 billion, according to the wealth index. He has collected about US$200 million from stock sales in 2020 as part of a trading plan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.