Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos has been named co-CEO with Reed Hastings, the company announced on Thursday.
He was also elected to the board of directors and will remain in his role as chief content officer.
“Ted’s been instrumental to our success as a company,” Hastings said in a statement. “While I saw streaming coming and pushed for it, Ted drove the revolution in our content strategy, which was way ahead of its time and has been key to our continued success.”
Netflix’s product chief Greg Peters was also given the additional title of chief operating officer on Thursday.
Together, the moves lay the groundwork for who might eventually lead the streaming-video giant when cofounder Hastings retires. Although, Hastings said in his statements that the changes were part of a “long process of succession planning,” meaning he doesn’t plan to step back back quite so soon.
As content chief, Sarandos has been essential in building Netflix’s vast library of original movies and TV shows. Netflix leads its streaming rivals in originals by a wide margin. According to an analysis by the streaming search engine Reelgood in June, Netflix had more than 670 original TV shows.
Sarandos and Hastings met in 1999 after Hastings “read an article in Video Business and asked a mutual friend to connect us,” Hastings said.
“When Reed and I first met over 20 years ago, he described Netflix almost exactly as it now works,” Sarandos said in a statement. “But at the time, I was skeptical. The Internet was still new and Netflix’s main competitor, Blockbuster, was huge and had completely disrupted the business model of my previous company. Part of Reed’s brilliance is his persistence and so I eventually said yes, back in 1999.”
Hastings cofounded Netflix in 1995 but wasn’t always CEO. His cofounder Marc Randolph was its first chief executive and exited the company in 2002, the same year it went public.
In recent years, Hastings and Sarandos had been sharing more of the responsibilities of running the company as content has become a larger part of Netflix’s business.
The role of chief marketing officer has reported into Sarandos since 2019, for example. Hastings and Sarandos are also the two highest paid executives at the company; their total compensations were in range with each other’s in recent years, based on company filings.
Peters, the product chief, will also be taking on some of Hastings responsibilities as part of his chief operating officer role, Hastings said.
Peters will spend more time at Netflix’s various offices around the world to improve how the teams work together, a duty Hastings handled as the company grew. Peters helped launch and led Netflix Japan earlier in his career.
“In his new role, I want Greg to take on more of this work so that we continue to improve rapidly,” Hastings said. “Eventually he needs to know every corner of Netflix better than I do today.”
Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.