Netflix CEO Reed Hastings writes

Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

When Netflix is evolving rapidly, however, I need to be extra-communicative. This is the key thing I got wrong.

In classical economics AOL should have died. Borders should have died.They should have spun every dime out to the shareholders who could have invested in the next big thing themselves.

However, Hastings is specifically saying this is the mark of a bad CEO and everyone nods there heads. He is saying that we should burn shareholder profits in an effort to move away from what made the company great.

Per Cowen’s law there should be a literature on this, but I have not seen it and it seems like a big deal to me.