The lobby of Netflix's Hollywood offices. Image source:
just added two seats to its board of directors. Board
appointments barely register as news most of the time, but
is different. I'm actually downright
about one of Netflix's new strategy stewards.
The new names in the Netflix boardroom come from
. If that top-shelf pedigree doesn't rouse your interest, let
me explain how Netflix obviously handpicked its new leaders for
maximum business impact. Netflix just expanded its board from
seven members to nine.
Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel since 2002. Image
Brad Smith, Microsoft's top legal eagle
From Microsoft comes longtime general counsel Brad Smith. He
has been the top legal mind in Redmond since 2002, so brings a
unique wealth of relevant expertise in business law.
Microsoft might not always use its legal firepower for a
good cause, but there's no denying that Smith has seen more
courtroom action than most of his industry peers. And he is
separated from Microsoft biggest legal defeat, having joined
the company two years after the landmark
United States v. Microsoft
So Smith provides an immediate upgrade to Netflix's legal
team. He jumped aboard as the only board member with a JD
degree, since Netflix's own general counsel, David Hyman,
doesn't hold a board seat. This legal expertise will become
more important as the company attempts to navigate the seven
seas and five continents,
creating a completely global service
by the end of 2016.
Anne Sweeney, until recently Disney's sharpest digital
strategy expert. Image source: Disney.
Anne Sweeney, keeper of Disney's digital
As useful as Smith will be to the global Netflix vision, he's
not the name that makes me want to tap dance on my desk. That
honor belongs to Anne Sweeney, who recently
from a three-decade career at Disney to pursue TV
Having been the co-chair of Disney's media networks division
and president of the Disney/ABC television group, Sweeney
obviously knows the entertainment industry inside and out. If
Netflix content guru Ted Sarandos ever needs a helping hand,
Sweeney will know exactly what to do, who to call, and where to
lunch when you want to make waves in Hollywood.
Before joining Disney, Sweeney helped
build Nickelodeon into a global brand. International expansion
runs deep in this boardroom update.
But we haven't even gotten to the part that makes me giggle
with glee as a Netflix shareholder. Here it is: Anne Sweeney
digital entertainment. She's forgotten more than you ever knew
about instant media delivery, the correct way to fight piracy,
and squeezing value out of digital distribution licenses.
I've been a fan of Sweeney's thinking for
nearly a decade
. Other forces inside Disney didn't always let her realize a
vision of frictionless delivery across multiple channels, and
her anti-piracy tactics -- beat the pirates in the open market
like you would any other competitor -- are a tough sell to
traditional media leaders.
But Netflix is a perfect fit for Sweeney's unconventional
strategies. "Piracy continues to be one of our biggest
competitors," Netflix recently said in its
fourth-quarter earnings report
. In the very next paragraph, the company added that "It
couldn't be a more exciting time in our industry!"
These two statements would generate oodles of friction in
many media businesses, but they are just a clear-eyed look at
market realities for Netflix. Though I can't speak for Sweeney,
I imagine she agrees with all of the above.
Brad Smith is also a great talent from a very suitable
background, but is more of a nuts-and-bolts play. Sweeney
brings vision and adrenaline to the Netflix boardroom.
Taken together, I'm beyond excited to see the difference
they can make for Netflix.
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Are These Disney and Microsoft Names the
Perfect Additions to Netflix Inc's Boardroom?
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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