Meet Reed Hastings, the man who built Netflix

Netflix is one of the greatest underdog success stories at the crossroads of technology and television.

What started as a DVD-by-mail rental service has now spawned a slew of award-winning original television series, made available over 100 million hours of content, and virtually redefined what it means to watch, and create, TV in 2015.

While CEO and founder Reed Hastings is a prominent member of the Silicon Valley tech community, he’s largely elusive to the general public.

Scroll through to learn about the man who built the $US47 billion online streaming service.

Reed Hastings was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 8, 1960, to Joan and Wilmot Hastings. His father was a lawyer who later worked for the Nixon Administration.

Facebook/Reed Hastings

Source: Vanity Fair

After college, he joined the Peace Corps to teach high school maths for two years in Swaziland, an experience he's called 'a combination of service and adventure.'

Screenshot via CBS

Source: Inc. Magazine, Vanity Fair

After returning to the States, Hastings earned his master's in artificial intelligence at Stanford. He credits the school with turning him on to the entrepreneurial model. Interestingly enough, Stanford's graduate school of business named Netflix the 2014 Entrepreneurial Company of the Year.

YouTube/Stanford Graduate School of Business

Source: Stanford Business

In 1991, Hastings founded Pure Software, which developed a debugging tool for engineers. The company reportedly doubled its revenue every year and Hastings soon moved from his position as an engineer to CEO (although he now admits there were major hiccups in his managerial style).

Screenshot via CBS

Source: Inc. Magazine

Ironically, Hastings offered to sell forty-nine per cent of Netflix to Blockbuster in 2000 to act as an online arm for the video-rental giant. Blockbuster turned them down and Hastings returned home to promote Netflix as the rental underdog.

Blockbuster screenshot

Source: The New Yorker

In 2013, Hastings moved Netflix into uncharted territory when it premiered its first original television series, 'House of Cards.' The show was nominated for a staggering nine Primetime Emmy awards and went on to win three -- rivaling a number of traditional shows. By the end of that year, Netflix's stock had tripled in value.

Netflix

Source: IMDb, The New Yorker

In August 2015, Netflix announced unlimited maternity and paternity leave for its employees, paving the way for forward-thinking companies to follow suit. The forward-thinking company already offered unlimited vacation for its employees.

Getty Images Latam

Source: Business Insider

Netflix's leading man is not only paving the way for the future of television, he's also a staunch advocate for education reform in California. Hastings served as President of the California State Board of Education from 2001 to 2004 where he lobbied for charter schools. Last year, he was the Keynote Speaker at the 2014 Annual CA Charter Schools Conference.

YouTube/California Charter Schools Association

Source: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

In December 2013, Hastings and John Doerr, of venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins, invested a combined $14.5 million in DreamBox Learning, an online maths program for elementary and middle school students.

Michael Kovac/Getty
Reed Hastings speaks during 'The State of Digital Education' onstage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in October 2014.

Source: Vanity Fair

Today, Hastings's net worth is $1.54 billion according to Forbes, most of which is tied to Netflix stock.

Elizabeth Fuentes/Getty

Source: Forbes

Outside of Netflix, he's a board member on a handful of organisations, including Facebook since 2011, and is still active in education philanthropy. According to his Facebook page, he also enjoys trips to Monterey with friends and family and is close with the Zuckerbergs.

Facebook/Reed Hastings

Source: LinkedIn

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.