Reed Hastings Opens Rome’s Netflix Office as Rain Gods Spare Everyone But Him

·3-min read

Reed Hastings made the trek to Rome to open Netflix’s new Italian headquarters in an elegant building just off the Via Veneto of “La Dolce Vita” fame — and the Roman rain gods made sure they knew he was there.

Menacing dark clouds interspersed with flashes of sunlight had hovered over the hour-long outdoor presentation of a rich slate of Netflix Italian originals, headlined by a high-end series adaptation of classic Italian novel “The Leopard.” Yet the weather had somehow held up.

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Right until, that is, a minute after Hastings took the stage.

“To start [in Italy] with this facility, with all the creators that we have today, is such an honor, especially as I feel the first drop of rain,” said Netflix’s founder and co-CEO.

As it gradually began to pour, Hastings reminisced about the fact that 20 years ago, when his wife and children moved to Rome while he remained in the U.S. running what was then a DVD mail-out business, he would come and visit them.

“At the end of that year, we had so many great memories,” he said, as umbrellas were handed out to guests. “And then 15 years ago [Netflix co-CEO] Ted Sarandos came here on holiday and he called me and said: ‘Enough with the DVDs, we’ve got to get into streaming,'” Hastings added.

“We talked then about building up our Italian membership because, some day, we would be producing content here in Italy.”

Hastings revealed that the Rome office launch was effectively a celebration of the country’s almost 5 million subscribers.

“The dream of Netflix is to support content creation everywhere and share it all around the world. Here in Italy, we are expanding with everything that we’re doing, not only with premium film, but also incredible series,” said Hastings.

“We want to do all kinds of unique content, not only supporting the establishment producers. We are also looking for new voices, to share those everywhere around the world. That’s what’s really unique about Netflix.”

Guests were then escorted inside the neoclassical building known as the Villino Rattazzi for a light lunch. They were urged to keep the director’s chairs they’d been sitting on, all with Netflix logos, as a souvenir.

A few minutes later, it stopped raining and the Roman sky cleared up again.

Netflix’s Italian office — which has a staff of roughly 70 working across a variety of roles, ranging from production and marketing to dubbing — follows similar bases in the U.K., France, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands. The Dutch outpost, however, remains the streamer’s main headquarters for Europe, West Asia and Africa.

Netflix’s main Italy-based executives include Eleonora Andreatta, known as Tinny, who joined from public broadcaster RAI in 2020 and heads Italian original series; non-fiction chief Giovanni Bossetti; and director of international original films Sara Furio.

Hastings’ Roman overture comes just weeks after Netflix reported a net loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022 and forecast a decline of another 2 million in Q2, citing various challenges including password-sharing behavior among more than 100 million households that do not pay for the service.

The company is also being sued by shareholders who claim the platform misled investors about declining subscriber growth over the course of six months — leading to a massive drop in its stock price.

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