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Netflix Employees Are Happier with Their Job Than Facebook or Google Employees (inc.com)
242 points by dsr12 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 191 comments

That Glassdoor reference on Netflix software engineer salaries is wrong/outdated from my understanding - I don’t know a single Netflixer making less than $300k.

Netflix seems to have an unusually open culture in general, including topics such as salary - they put their money where their mouth is and basically egg everyone on to beat them. Gotta respect that a company is willing to do that (I don’t work for them, but I do work for one of the big public tech companies listed in those charts)

If this is true, as someone who is unemployed and doesn't watch Netflix, I can't even wrap my head around that number. On the other hand, I'm kind of happy to see that they're making real money by charging real money (unlike others where your information is the only product) and passing that on to the people who make it good.

They have 100M+ subscribers who each pay ~$10/month. That's a billion dollars a month, or $12B/year. $12B/year can pay for a lot of $300K/year salaries.

(Most people have trouble wrapping their heads around just how huge consumer markets are. If you have 300M users - a la Whatsapp when Facebook acquired them - and charge them just $1/year, that's $300M/year in revenue, or enough to afford 1000 $300K/year engineers [or actually more like 1000 $200K/year engineers once you figure in overhead]. Similarly, if just one person out of every 100 acquaintances you know uses a product but they spend $10/month on it, that's about $400M/year. The challenge for consumer businesses is usually that they have to spend more to reach those customers and get them to open up their wallets than they make from each one, not that there aren't enough customers.)

> $12B/year can pay for a lot of $300K/year salaries.

Of course out of those $12bn, 7-8 will go to cost-of-goods-sold (buying or making the content they serve up). Still, 3-4bn of gross income pays for quite a few engineers.

Their latest quarter:

$2.98 billion sales, $991m gross profit, $208m operating income

Tracking toward $11.75b - $12b in sales for fiscal 2017, with a mere ~3,400 employees or so.

They've historically had relatively slim margins (especially in the streaming business), probably explains the very thin employee base versus the sales.

> $300M/year in revenue, or enough to afford 1000 $300K/year engineers [or actually more like 1000 $200K/year engineers once you figure in overhead].

I think you're massively underestimating overhead. Each person who works on a product should make a max of 15-25% of what they bring in. If you have a repair shop and you charge $100/h, you should be paying your techs $15-25.

Back of the envelope calculations:

$1 billion a month is about $1.4 million an hour 24/7.

$300,000 + ~$50,000 in benefits / 260 working days yearly / 8 hour work days is about $170 an hour.

That works out to earning about 0.012% of what they bring in.

Netflix is a bad example because, like most media companies, the vast majority of their expenses go towards media licensing and production. So while it's easy to paint their engineers as overpaid compared to the labor market, it's very difficult to paint their engineers as overpaid relative to their product.

You also need to understand that they believe in hiring/keeping high-performers that are much more productive than average engineers. This is how you can justify the much higher salaries (top of market). IIUC, this means; You are effectively rewarding the high performing team more by maintaining a smaller team.

What's even harder to wrap my head around is that according to this survey around 15% of people at Netflix think they're not compensated fairly. What do they want? 400k? 500k? Would a salary of a million dollars a year be enough?

If you worked at Netflix and everyone around you made a million whilst you made half a million, you might give such an answer on a survey, and it probably wouldn't change with the absolute amounts.

That's something that worries me about moving down to Silicon Valley. It seems like everyone there is envious of how much their neighbors and co-workers make, regardless of how much they happen to be making. I want to avoid falling into that trap--it seems like a recipe for unhappiness.

Another perspective: Netflix is notoriously interested in only hiring top talent. Top talent is ambitious and always seeking to advance. I don't think it's a matter of envy, it's the unending beat of progress.

And,or: they hire the people most likely to feel unfairly paid, and it’s when we feel we are unfairly paid we are more motivated to negotiate higher salaries, and the more a company’s employees ask for higher salaries the more likely they are paid higher. And if the root cause of the feeling of being unfairly paid isn’t the absolute amount of money being received, then the higher salaries won’t reduce the feeling.

The competition is starting your own company and cashing in on many millions or billions from it. I think it's perfectly reasonable for the highest achievers to have that in mind as the alternative to compare against and hold some ambivalence on whether they are maximizing themselves.

Think about it, if you have even the remotest capability in reading DL research and simultaneously a decently impressive ability to gab, you can sell a startup idea to GM/Ford/etc. for billions on no real insight. Of course some of these people are gonna stew angrily about whether their 500k compensation is the limit. I bet anyone making that 300k+ at Netflix thinks they could easily do some basic spinoff utilizing their main job objective and further they could use the Netflix background as a credential. It gets ludicrous, but you'll never have much better than what Netflix right now is achieving in employee satisfaction. In fact it's a wonder it's so good.

Decent 3 bedroom houses nearby cost 3 million, so going by the 3x salary to house price rule, a million dollars would be the right amount. That is completely ridiculous, but it is also reality.

Netflix compensation packages are base salary only. So they are competitive by attempting to compute the value of Google or Facebook compensation packages which include shares and generous bonuses, and then Netflix aims to slightly beat that as well.

Netflix has other perks of course. But they also have a pretty crazy layoff policy and they brag about how awesome their severance package is.

Employment as Netflix is really a mixture of the income premium and lack of stability that a contractor would have, with a compensation structure closer to a startup (base salary only, no formalized bonuses).

>Employment as Netflix is really a mixture of the income premium and lack of stability that a contractor would have, with a compensation structure closer to a startup (base salary only, no formalized bonuses).

Note, ever since IC Engineers started getting significant bonus/stock grants (Which, I think, is something that has been a thing for less than a decade, at least for grants of publicly traded stock.) From what I've seen? Contractors have lost their income premium.

I mean, contractors still make more than what they'd make full time for base salary, but base salary is now a relatively small portion of total comp for FTEs at most places.

Just my observation; I'm also talking about the sort of contractors who go through body shops and essentially do the same jobs as the regular employees.

This is only true when looking at tech companies that really hand significant stock grants. There are tons of software developers, all over the US, getting only salary and modest bonuses outside of those few places that grant stock that is as good as money.

When you look at that world, contractors still win by a very wide margin: They are organizations where HR will not allow a hire for a competitive salary, but a department head can spend their budget on contractors any way they want. This leads to gigantic pro-contractor differences: As recently as last year, I made three times as much as someone sitting next to me that had Architect in their title, and the contract was for many hundreds of hours, so it's not as if there was non-billable overhead.

Now, the big tech companies can compete with contractor billing rates, just as long as it's either Netflix, or someone with good-as-money stock grants, but if you live in, say, Kansas City, you won't smell those companies anyway, and chances are that, barring remote work for a giant, the best you can hope for without contracting is salary that isa little bit below Google's, but no stock.

Sure, I am just saying that things changed in those silicon valley companies in the last ten years.

Those jobs with the as good as money stock grants are interesting because they represent the top of the market not just locally, but globally. If you want to maximize income in this industry and you are not good enough to move markets to you, you move to silicon valley and interview.

Maybe this is true on the west coast, but most of us don't work over there.

Netflix is in the red, I believe.

Nah, they reliably make ~$100M per quarter in net income and have a few billion in cash reserves. They're on very stable financial footing.

Their content production is amortized over 5 years. In reality, they're in the red.

Cash flow might be negative but that's not the same as being in the red. And I'm not even sure cash flow is negative.

Content should be amortized as it will generate revenue for years. It's essentially being treated as a capital expense, which isn't unreasonable.

Recognizing both expenses and revenue over time is part of generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP).

Intuitionistically, it makes total sense that you get a clearer picture of the true state of the finances of Netflix as a going concern if they recognize the costs of a show on their balance sheet over five years when they expect subscribers to still be watching it for the first (or second, or third) time several years on.

income =/= profit

Isn't net income == net profit?

A person can have an income of $300k a year but spend every penny of it on debt and necessities. That's generally not considered making a profit.

EDIT: Sorry, I misunderstood something. Netflix has indeed been making a profit.

Sure but if a corporation makes 300k a year that's called revenue, the revenue minus costs are profit, no?

Basically, it depends on the size of the company - the numbers reported by Netflix are GAAP. The tricky part is depreciation and amortization v. cash which would create a different outcomes in a cashflow and GAAP.

A company with a positive cashflow and GAAP profitable is in the best spot, followed by a company with a positive cashflow and losing money in GAAP-land, followed by a negative cashflow and positive GAAP-land, followed by a negative cashflow and negative GAAP.


You need to make sure you're comparing apples to apples here.

Netflix has high salaries but doesn't (for normal employees anyway) give equity. The other big tech companies do. And equity can be a significant part of your total compensation especially given tech stock performance. I think there's no bonus either but I'm not certain of that part.

Note that some will consider paying straight salary an advantage. It's certainly more straightforward.

Equity has so many complications. I would take a solid salary over a not great salary any day. Maybe you miss out on a million dollar payday when the stocks perform well, but at $300,000/year salary, you're not far from it anyway, and at least that's a guarantee.

Agreed, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Also $300K a year is definitely in the "nice problem to have" category.

You're describing the equity situation at startups. Big tech has fairly stable stock prices, so stock performance means the difference between taking home 400k or 600k total tops. 400k us still more than 300k. On the flip side, this also means no million dollar payday from regular salary+equity.

And with any public company you can still invest part of the salary in your employers stock if you want to participate in that $1m chance (not that I would recommend it though).

Yeah, that sounds nice. Getting paid in stock is a huge hassle. You have to deal with special brokerage accounts. You have to remember to enroll for autosale if you want to get paid during "silent periods". There is an extra hour of paperwork to do every year for your taxes.

Given that stock was like half my compensation, I wasn't going to give it up to avoid the hassle. But next time, no thanks.

edit: just noticed your username, hah.

Cash has more utility and less risk than owning a large quantity of a tech stock. So I'd want to make significantly more than $300k if a big portion of that is equity. Are the other big tech companies now paying >> $300k in total compensation to the average employee?

According to Paysa's self-reported survey data (which, for all I know, is hogwash):

    Netflix,  senior software engineer, $323k ($323k cash)
    Google,   senior software engineer, $340k ($220k cash)
    Facebook, software engineer,        $317k ($190k cash)
    Google,   software engineer,        $281k ($180k cash)
Netflix has too few "software engineer" data points and Facebook has too few "senior software engineer" data points to include those. If this data is at all accurate, it doesn't seem like either of those companies are giving better deals than Netflix on average.

Aren’t bonuses are taxed at a much higher rate compared to salary?

No, bonuses are taxed at the same rate as salary. The withholding calculations are different, so you tend to have a bigger chunk taken out of your bonus check. But if that chunk is greater than your actual tax rate, you'll get the difference back in your tax refund.

This (high Netflix salaries) has the effect of raising salaries in other companies (which do provide RSUs/options on top of that)! I know people who left $BigCo for NetFlix; stuck around for a few months, and then went right back to $BigCo, but this time with a salary matching their Netflix salary.

Surely you have some selection bias in your Netflix-employed acquaintances. I would imagine their average/median salary is lower than that.

If anything, I have reason to suspect my Netflix friends might be on the lower end of software engineers there based on some things I've been told & their roles in particular. They really do pay incredibly well. That said, that is total comp - they give you mostly cash by default and you can choose to allocate some of your cash comp into stock if you want.

I also don’t know a single engineer whose total comp is below $300k at Netflix. They get paid well and the caliber of talent is top tier.

I could certainly be wrong! That feels shockingly high as an average, but good on Netflix for valuing talent. Something to aspire to. ;)

It is shockingly high, but it's true. It's also a produce or leave environment where folks don't stick around who aren't, as the previous poster says, "top tier."

I wonder how their management (whoever has the authority to fire) measures performance. Hopefully it’s not as naive as hours in the office, as other commenters have suggested, because naive measurements must lead to perverse incentives.

I would suspect and hope that, given such high salaries, their retain-or-fire decision is more sophisticated than that.

I think that software engineering productivity is a fairly difficult thing to measure quantitatively. Any simple objective quantitative measure (like hours spent working, lines of code contributed, or tickets resolved) is bound to be too naive.

Software engineering seems like one of those things where it’s easy to subjectively identify very good and very poor performers, but difficult to draw a hard line or even compare two similarly productive programmers.

By "top tier", do you also mean people who are willing to put in longer than normal hours and deal with a super-competitive culture and the office politics and drama that come with it?

Or am I reading too much into the quotations? I'm honestly just interested in hearing more about what the culture at Netflix is like.

Netflix employee here. You can find out a lot about our culture from our culture page:


It's not just marketing fluff. It really does a good job of reflecting what it's like to work there, and is taken seriously by everyone from the top down.

As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it's not a competitive environment, and I've experience very little politics and drama. Those things are explicitly counter to the culture.

As for long hours, while the work day can be pretty intense, the office is usually empty by 5-6pm.

Hope that helps.

A while back, I remember reading something about how Netflix will periodically re-interview their employees and if they fail, fire them. Is it (still) a thing? Also, what about stories such as this: http://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/437291792/how-the-architect-of...

"Today, Netflix offers unlimited vacation time, high salaries. This company doesn't care how long you're in the office, but they do care about what you produce. And you have to produce. Here's another slide. We are a team, not a family. We are a pro sports team, not a kids recreational team.

Netflix fires people, even hard-working people.

HENN: How many people have you moved on?

MCCORD: Oh, hundreds.

HENN: I talked to a lot of former employees were OK with this deal. I mean, after all, Netflix pays well. But some talked about a culture of fear - always been worried about being fired. Patty says the company's culture is a big reason for its success. She says it keeps Netflix lean and nimble."

That culture fired her as well..

Thanks, that was really helpful!

Do you have any kind of remote working allowance? Or are you expected to be in office all the time?

Where should I send my CV? :D

> the office is usually empty by 5-6pm.

(because the bus to San Francisco leaves at 4:30pm)

At what point do you tell your employees that they live in the wrong city? Sacramento?

I haven’t heard it’s competitive once you’re in the company but it is competitive to get into Netflix.

Top Tier in the sense that they have very good technical skills, paired with the right attitude for Netflix’s culture. I haven’t them be unreasonable for the standards they set but they want the very best and want you to work hard everyday. The difference is they don’t seem to stockpile talent, they cut when someone doesn’t meet that bar and have paid them incredibly well till that point.

In addition to what others have said, Netflix doesn't hire interns or new grads or engineers with low experience. So obviously it's much easier to have a low end of 300k if your most inexperienced person's previous experience if 5 years at google (made up example)

Netflix explicitly have a policy of trying to pay the best in the industry, as I was told when I interviewed there. Turns out it works!

What do they do all day? Pressing play and getting video already works, and you can’t program your way out of Netflix’s existential threat of nobody renewing their streaming licenses.

I feel like maintaining the infrastructure for the mammoth amount of data they must serve each day would be quite a lot of work on its own. They can't really afford hiccups in service, and I don't recall the site ever being down or a video not loading recently.

Netflix does a lot of work on reliability/availability and are known for being good at it - they've actually open-sourced a lot of their tooling too.

That's right. Search for Netflix OSS. Their infra tooling for the cloud is amazing, and something to aspire too. I'm an outsider and have always admired them.

Cost optimization via more efficient software, customer engagement via better predictive analytics, etc.

About 7 years ago, I recall they were paying software folks 40-50% more than the competition (Google, etc).

Netflix is known for a few things: They pay really well. They don't tolerate drops in performance. The two go hand in hand (they're open about it). And as someone else mentioned, they encourage their employees to interview elsewhere, and they make it their goal to try to match any higher offer the employee gets.

I think their culture is the type that self-selects. People who don't want the stress of being a top performer all the time tend not to apply, or leave very quickly.

I know an engineer making less than $300k in total comp, but it's just barely under that, so your overall point is definitely reinforced.

Average household income of 200k in Los Gatos, and average house price over a million (according to city web site). I guess I would need 300k to live there.

Aren't they also an extremely cutthroat culture? Being open about that doesn't make it any more appealing to me.

As a Netflix employee, I wouldn't really describe our culture as cutthroat at all. My experience in 5 years has almost entirely devoid of politics.

For example, from our culture page: "We have no bell curves or rankings or quotas such as “cut the bottom 10% every year.” That would be detrimental to fostering collaboration, and is a simplistic, rules-based approach we would never support."


Our culture can feel intimidating, especially if you have any degree of imposter syndrome, but with very few exceptions, my colleagues and managers have always been supportive and really great to work with.

>>We have no bell curves or rankings or quotas such as “cut the bottom 10% every year.

This is possible in companies growing rapidly or bringing in lots of money.

In 1990s, It was very common in Indian IT services firms to openly talk about salaries and promotions, as getting the best of both was easy for every one. Enter 2000s and all of this came to an abrupt end, stack ranking emerged out of nothing as people competing for limited resources compared themselves with each other.

Its not that hard to pay and promote when things are going well. Its only when the scarcity kicks when the real issues start.

This is spot on! The same goes for so many other companies. When the pie is growing, everyone gets a bigger piece, there is lots of whitespace to move into, mid-level folks can stretch into more senior roles, faster and more effectively than it takes the company to hire external senior people, and so on.

Interesting. I have a few friends who have interviewed and talked with people there and it's always been described to me as a place that does cut the bottom performers every year. When you hiring only "rock stars" those bottom 10% may still be great.

I'm glad to hear that may not be true as it's always put me off from attempting to work there.

Do you trust a random commenter on HN on the Internet than a few of your own friends? This is something I wonder about. I weigh the opinion of random reddit posts than people I know in real life. How did I get that way?

Perhaps something here is that this is an identifiable person who actually works at netflix making a semi-permanent and public statement.

Contrasted to a friend who heard something passing on information that they were not expecting to be held accountable for.

I might trust my friends more, if my friend and someone on the internet had the same information, but might trust someone on the internet more if they had better knowledge.

Also, they did say "might not be true", and it certainly makes sense to use new knowledge to adjust the probabilities of belief.

> Do you trust a random commenter on HN on the Internet than a few of your own friends?

No and yes? The problem is I didn't have any friends who worked directly for Netflix this is mostly what they had heard from others and what one supposedly asked about during his interview a few years back.

So yeah I trust them but they also got their information second hand which, when compared to "stranger on the internet claiming to be working at Netflix" I don't see a huge difference in.

> Our culture can feel intimidating, especially if you have any degree of imposter syndrome

Could you elaborate?

I imagine that it's like playing on a professional sports team. If you can't hack it in the NBA, NHL, NFL, etc, you'll know inside of you. Guys that make it to The Show have very little doubt in themselves as to what they're capable of doing, and even the superstars are mostly working their butts off to get even better, and that goes double for the benchwarmers. See any YouTube video on Kobe Bryant's work ethic. But even the benchwarmers know that they belong if they put in the work.

> Our culture can feel intimidating, especially if you have any degree of imposter syndrome

Is the management aware that because of this you're missing some great talent out there? Maybe they should consider changing a stance a bit...

Almost every business that pays their producers $300k+ is going to be cutthroat.

When you say "making less than $300k", are you referring to actual salary or to some nebulous "total compensation" estimate?

That's a very high number for a full time position. I wonder what engineers actually do at Netflix? Seems like most of the work would be behind them...

I feel like a lot of big tech companies these days pay engineers to sound smart rather than for doing actual work. The interview processes at these companies would certainly indicate that.

Stuff like filling a 100Gbit pipe:


I think that's some studly work, so much so that I'm sitting at the FreeBSD conference at Netflix right now.

I'm retired but some people got me interested in this stuff and I asked netflix for some hardware to look at numa performance issues. I showed up and they just handed me a 2U server, 2 Haswell sockets, 14 cpus (unthreaded) per socket, 256GB, 26TB of SSD. Neat machine :)

So far, from what I've seen, Netflix seems like they are close to what they describe on their culture page (that's been linked on this page) but it's early on for me.

I can say that playing with the hardware, learning about the issues, talking to people about kernel work has got me pretty pumped. Fun problems, fun people.

Behind them? Like, Netflix is through, no need to expand it's offerings? No need to improve it's UX? Introduce new features?

Their front-end apps are awful, and wildly inconsistent from platform to platform. Streaming performance is best in class, as far as I can tell, though. I guess their focus is on the latter.

Check out spinnaker.

The graph for compensation/leaving is more revealing if you right align the red bars: https://i.imgur.com/WeJD8na.png

note how with Lyft, Uber and Apple there's no overlap between the percentage that feel compensated fairly and the percentage that would leave (yes I realise the two aren't orthogonal, but it's still indicative).


and linkedIn only overlap slightly.

Looking at it another way: https://i.imgur.com/vnMtd3r.png

If you want to reduce the percentage of your employees that want to leave there's two ways to do it: increase compensation, or do whatever Lyft, Uber, Apple and linkedIn are doing.

I'd be curious to see how the data changes if the question is changed to "Do you think you are compensated enough". I personally know people who think they make too much, and may actually answer "No" to the question "Do you think you are compensated fairly?"

Without even looking at the article, I would guess so simply because what Netflix purports to do is what they actually do and how they make money, so there's no ethical shell game being played against starry-eyed junior developers.

> so there's no ethical shell game being played

Netflix has some shady stuff like DRM going on, while pretending it's not their fault it was pushed into HTML standard.

As someone that works for a company with a moderately similar business model as netflix, I can almost guarantee that Netflix is not imposing this DRM by their own volition. It is highly likely that the owners of the rights to their content force the DRM as a condition of allowing their content to be used.

As someone who used to work in a company that was in the streaming business I can confirm that content providers are exceptionally paranoid about the raw content they provide. You spend all your time trying to minimize content provider restrictions and requirements that impact the experience of your users.

Want a happy life? Stay out of any sort of video or music related business. It just isn't worth the trouble.

> I can almost guarantee that Netflix is not imposing this DRM by their own volition.

Where can we get their own films and shows DRM-free?

How much are you willing to pay for it?

To pay for something, it should be available first. So it's pointless to ask, if you can't buy it for any price.

Well if a lot of people were willing to pay more for DRM-free, or if people avoided DRM'ed content, it would make business sense to do that. Its easier to effect change from the bottom up, than demanding a company change their policies just because you disagree with them. For example, EMI experimented with selling their entire catalog DRM-free on itunes for 30 cents more per track in 2007. I don't think it turned out well for them. That's the only one I remember off the top of my head. Seems like you're interested in this topic so you may have other examples.

What makes sense is to offer an option instead of saying "we know better what you should want, so we won't offer it".

Music sells just fine DRM-free on Bandcamp. Games sell fine DRM-free on GOG. So I don't see any reason for films to be different. Lack of DRM-free video has nothing to do with lack of demand, but more with paranoia and backwards thinking of some legacy media execs.

See https://www.gog.com/forum/general/introducing_gogcom_drmfree...

Music sells fine with DRM too, so do games. Not sure what your point is. I showed you that EMI offered an option with and without DRM. We know the results. Do you have examples where DRM and non-DRM products were offered, and users overwhelmingly chose the non-DRM product? I'm genuinely curious to see if it has ever happened and how successful it was.

In any case, DRM is one of those things that I don't see going away. It might change its form. People have gotten used to the convenience of not owning digital goods and merely renting them, and companies have gotten used to making money off of keeping users running on their subscription treadmill.

The easiest way to combat DRM is to start gofundme / indie gogo campaigns, where the developer gets paid upfront, and that way they don't care about DRM since they already made money.

> Music sells fine with DRM too, so do games. Not sure what your point is.

My point is, that releasing for more people = more profit. And the opposite - not serving the demand = lost sales. It's pretty straightforward. DRM-free markets show there is demand. And those who refuse to release DRM-free show they don't do it not because of money, but for some side, shady reasons.

Not sure what your EMI example shows. They offered with DRM and without DRM, and then just with DRM, but it sounds like they didn't address the audience right. I.e. they should offer in all stores, not in one place exclusively.

> The easiest way to combat DRM is to start gofundme / indie gogo campaigns, where the developer gets paid upfront, and that way they don't care about DRM since they already made money.

DRM is not about money, it's about control (i.e. power). A different kind of urge some have. That's why using rational business arguments often doesn't work with such people. Control freaks don't care about lost profits, if in the end they feel "we are in charge".

> In any case, DRM is one of those things that I don't see going away.

It was broken through for music and games. Film industry is the one most plagued by it. And I agree - I see no sign of progress in it. It's too backwards thinking.

Developer of The Banner Saga when asked if the second game would be on GOG.

> sadly once we released DRM Free for The Banner Saga we saw our game get pirated like wildfire. Which is something we're keen to avoid as much possible. We haven't given it much thought at this point to be honest when it comes to GoG.


Which is a pretty clueless response. Avoiding GOG will only increase such pirating (by decreasing legal sources for the game). Developers should know better.

> Avoiding GOG will only increase such pirating (by decreasing legal sources for the game).

Until you provide a single source you're not saying anything worth responding to.

Not sure how those developers measured piracy in general.

But piracy is naturally increased by limiting legal sources for buying something. Other developers commented on this very issue, saying that existing DRM increased piracy.

I'm not going to continue this off topic conversation.

> The new Assassins Creed has been pirated Zero times because they made the DRM as invasive as possible.

It was also not bought by people who see this obtrusive nonsense which drains CPU resources and degrades performance as something to avoid. In the end, they only lost sales. I wouldn't call Ubisoft or any other legacy publisher rational. Rather irrational control freaks.

Besides, Ubisoft's DRM will be broken, same as all others.

See above.

Where did you get data that DRM prevented lost sales? It's vaporware. Your link doesn't show in any way, that if they'd have released it DRM free, they wouldn't have more sales in result.

It's boring that you support anti-user methodology like DRM and try to justify it. It's been debunked multiple times.

People really pirate games still? Steam and GoG have made actually paying for games so easy I haven't even thought about it for years.

There was a time when you couldn't find most games in a physical store, and sketchy cracked versions on PirateBay or your favorite tracker were the alternative. Of course, I have orders of magnitude more disposable income now than I used to, as well.

> People really pirate games still?

Some do it for sport, especially DRMed ones. I.e. they see DRM as something to break. So the mere presence of DRM is an incentive to pirate for them.

The rest of my point is basically "on their junior developers." What I'm referring to is the mismatch between what Google and Facebook actually do (monetize machine learning to sell ads) compared to what they claim to do when they recruit ("come change the world" etc.). The same is not true of Netflix with DRM.

Well, I doubt Netflix tell junior developers when they recruit them, that they are now in league with MPAA and on the wrong side of all things copyright. DRM is just a part of it all.

I guess I'm giving you a tip o' the hat as we pass each other by on our respective hobby horses.

Comment made my day.

What do you mean by they pretend it's not their fault? They seem to be very open about it, even boasting about their DRM work on their blog[1]. As unethical as DRM may be, I don't think Netflix have been dishonest about their involvement with it.


In the past, when there were discussions in W3C about it, and Netflix were blamed for bringing that garbage in, they were saying it's not their fault but they are forced by publishers.

And this claim is a pile of trash:

> This is a requirement for any premium subscription video service.

DRM isn't a requirement. It's pushed by paranoid media execs, and Netflix should have control over it for their own video.

Pretty minor part of their business though

Still a major impact on the standard itself.

It's the reason why Netflix on Chrome and Firefox isn't in 1080p. Due to DRM support Netflix supports 1080p on Edge though.

but we're talking about an ethical shell game impacting mental state not the technical standards for the wider internet.

I'd say being hypocrites about their DRM attitude is unethical enough.

How can Netflix survive if you're able to pay $15 and download every video they have?

Someone who's going to pirate can readily get all of that content from various sources already.

I highly doubt that anyone has been persuaded to buy a Netflix subscription because of Netflix's use of DRM.

As for 'shady' -- well, not a word I'd necessarily use, but there's plenty of examples where DRM has blocked access to legitimately purchased content.

Netflix isn't using DRM for the customers, its using DRM for the content providers. It isn't there job to fix the rest of the Internet

> Netflix isn't using DRM for the customers, its using DRM for the content providers.

That doesn't for their own video. Whom are they using it for in that case?

> It isn't there job to fix the rest of the Internet

Apparently it's their job to break it though, by pushing this garbage into he standard.

1. DRM only hurts legitimate users.

2. Netflix claimed it's not their intent to use DRM, but demand comes from film publishers who distribute content through them.

3. Netflix make their own films now, but you can't find them DRM-free (legally).

Ergo, it's also their fault DRM was pushed into HTML. Q.E.D.

For whatever reason you seem to be on a puritanical crusade against anything DRM.

So tell me again how Netflix subscribers, who are only purchasing the right to be able to stream videos on a limited release cycle, are hurt by Netflix's use of DRM? I followed the massive draconian DRM push by the gaming industry, MPAA and RIAA during the 00s and let me tell you son - this ain't nothing close.

As someone else mentioned, netflix subscribers are hurt because only people using edge can get the 1080p version due to DRM. Non-paying pirates get the good version, paying customers get the low quality one.

Who are these videophiles who actually care about 1080p? It seems like if the show is any good, you don't need 1080p to enjoy it.

Okay, I'm old, but we watched movies on VHS and it was a lot better than broadcast signal in a rural area. DVD's are very clear in comparison. HDTV is just icing on the cake.

And TV is a luxury, so you should be grateful that you get any at all. Back in my day, we didn't have nearly as many kids on our lawns, and we were happy for it.


I do and I'm far from a videophile, but I do have a nice big TV that I sit rather close too. It's a nice to have, but at times it's a really nice to have, especially for things like blockbuster movies.

Two other areas I find it really critical are sports (not a favorite topic around these parts), watching the silky smooth world cup stream in 1080p a few years was breathtaking, another one is animated shows. It seems unintuitive and I have no idea why, but something like futurama is much better in 1080p.

If you have a high resolution display, you'll get grainy video if the source is not high resolution enough.

Is this satire?

Nope, I really don't get the appeal.

Not whatever, but quite simple reason of DRM being unethical overreaching preemptive policing methodology, on top of which is built an entire corrupted and undemocratic set of legal mechanisms like DMCA-1201 (anti-circumvention provisions).

>So tell me again how Netflix subscribers, who are only purchasing the right to be able to stream videos on a limited release cycle, are hurt by Netflix's use of DRM?

Others already brought examples above with this DRM limiting usability of where videos can be watched. But that's a minor damage in comparison with damage done by DRM pushed into HTML standard itself, in which Netflix is complicit.

See https://boingboing.net/2017/03/21/we-cant-handle-the-truth.h...

Because it has the effect of making it difficult for honest users to use their product on platforms they arent developing for. While at the same time pirates have no trouble getting their content.

"If you want to steal shit that's your prerogative, but don't pretend like you have moral high ground."

Whether making a copy of a sequence of numbers without depriving the "owner" of those numbers of anything is theft is debatable.

That sequence of 0s and 1s cost money to make.

But it's free to distribute. So instead of charging customers for distribution, they should be charging customers the up-front cost of production.

I'm not against this, but it goes against the grain of a capitalist economy as it does not maximize overall profits. For this concept to work at scale, we might need to rejigger the whole economy.

It goes against the concept of commercialized art I'd say. Which is probably a good thing.


Just because our economic models are out of date doesn't mean we need to change the way we behave to keep shoe-horning them in. It means we need to change our models to reflect reality.

To be clear, I am totally on board with reimagining the economy. Sorry, that didn't come through in my post.

My apologies. I feel my response was a bit defensive. I guess I'm just used to people arguing that "it would hurt because of $short_term_economic_issue, so we shouldn't consider it at all!"

How do you suggest that they do that?

That is a good question, and I'm not sure I have a good answer. Kickstarter and Patreon seem to be doing pretty well, but AFAIK they haven't been used to such a scale so they may not work for this.

This is a big issue and our economy is largely suffering for it, but old-world thinking about treating digital goods like physical goods is a poor response.

Veronica Mars movie was made through kickstarter way back when. That was successful, and specifically covered cost of production. I can't remember the donation system, but most tiers got free digital copy of the film.

It was a total failure at release though, since WB didn't make it available DRM-free[1]. It's a counter example of how to do things. The end result was - never trust WB.

A proper example would be something like Kung Fury[2].

1. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140314/23410326583/warne...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kung_Fury

Crowd fund production

There was an episode NPR Planet Money where they had a former hiring manager explain Netflix's work culture. I recommend giving it a listen; it's only 20 mins.


There was a story where a woman who worked herself sick for the company and was on sick leave. Netflix essentially said don't worry, take as much time off as you want but really it was about making her post redundant and moving on without her.

Did she get paid for her sick leave?

It isn't mentioned in the podcast.

The article seems oddly gushy about Blind or "the anonymous employee chat app for employees" -> There must be a better way to write that.

It "ask them the kinds of sensitive questions that you normally can't ask: Do you think you are paid fairly? Are you interested in leaving your job?"

The sample size is 4174 people across ~40+ companies. So I am not really sure this can be trusted, looks more like a click bait article.

Not to mention the folks on this app aren't exactly drawn from a random distribution. I wouldn't be surprised if there are extreme biases at play.

There's clear sampling bias. I read the article as a data irrelevant advertisement for the app

"When asked to rate the statement, "I'm compensated fairly," 4174 people responded, Blind says."

Funny how they don't mention how many people answered the other questions.

The survey, as well as the article, is bullshit clickbait.

> The survey, as well as the article, is bullshit clickbait.

To me it reads like barely-disguised native advertising, with every single chart having both the company's logo embedded in it and a direct link to their homepage right below it.

It's sad to see such content appear so prominently on HN.

Since Netflix fires employees who are unhappy I would like to hear the story from the other side as well, that is - from the unhappy fired employees.

That's not the sense I get, I believe (and I'm just going from what I've read so salt a bit) that they let go people that aren't producing at the level they want. So they could easily let go someone who was happy but not producing enough.

Netflix has a lower rating (3.6) than Google (4.4) and Facebook (4.6) on Glassdoor.

Obviously Glassdoor isn't completely reliable since anyone can write a review, but Blind is also subject to selection bias.

Duh. The ones that survive are making ~400k/yr pure cash and very very happy. I've heard they will fire very quickly though but those that fit into the culture must be extremely happy.

Do they fire quickly based on culture fit or some performance measure?

Their culture is singularly focused on performance... so both.

Netflix employee here. We have a high performance culture, certainly, but it's not the singular focus. I have probably seen just as many people let go for their inability to work well with others as anything performance-related.

From our culture page:

"...there are no “brilliant jerks.” The cost to teamwork is just too high. Our view is that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions, and we insist upon that."


When you say High performance culture, does it mean you have to work more than 8 hours a day? Is it butt-in-the-seat culture? if not, how do you measure performance? Would be great to know.

Was about to ask the same question. Performance measures vary between companies, sector, and management structures.

Netflix doesn't reward hard workers. They reward smart workers. If you get your job done in 5 mins, and take the rest of the day off, they will reward you with a 20% raise every year. If you work your ass off 16 hrs a day but don't get your work done, you will get laid off.

Keep in mind that "the job" I'm referring to is more complex that regular jobs, but they hire people that can do the job that they need them to.

Weird part is, if you get into a hedge fund it's not that hard to make that much, even for engineers.

Significantly more for senior quantitative or HFT engineers.

One thing to keep in mind it the number of employees.

Netflix - 3.5k Facebook - 17k Google - 60k

The most recent Front End Happy Hour podcast[0] featured a Netflix recruiter who described their culture a bit. I found it interesting and encouraging.


Netflix is no different to any other company. Your happiness depends on your boss. And even single teams go through bad patches.

Some background. I wrote Netflix's recommendation system. Netflix later went on to take part in fraud against USPTO which now led to Netflix with no ownership of it's "most important technology". Xavier Amatrain https://www.linkedin.com/in/xamatriain/ was my boss. Xavier went on to hire lots of staff to try and replace my system and was unable to do so. In the end he started claiming credit for systems I had written without understanding the technology. He still presents his incorrect knowledge in public conferences. The result is that for 5 years Netflix has been running my alpha system without improving the technology (various techniques that Xavier tried and k-means, LDA and deep-learning). Netflix never did push a version I had written with 40% greater "click-through" rate, 3 times greater speed and order of magnitude less memory.

One example conversation I had with Xavier after he left Netflix (para-phrasing of course): Me: How is my system doing? Xavier: We don't use it anymore. We stopped using your system 1 week after you left. Me: Really what do you use? Xavier: I cannot tell you it is secret. Me: Who wrote it? Xavier: You don't know him. We hired him after you and he wrote and pushed the new algorithm. Me: So that new person, wrote a new recommendation system; pushed it into A/B test; got test results and then pushed it into production in 1 week. Xavier: Yes - he is better than you. All was this is a lie (and not out of character), because I have been in touch with other engineers post-Netflix and in fact I've talked with Justin on a number of occasions on the phone about how to keep my system running. Later Xavier invited me to work for him at Quora. He offered in his own words "an unbelievable salary". I of course refused. I met Xavier sometime later and tried to talk to him about a particular bad presentation of his. He got upset and shouted "Fuck Off, I'm not interested in listening to anything you have to say" multiple times. We were on the Facebook campus at the time. He left at that point.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Always remember https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/65213-briefly-stated-the-ge...

The hed is a little misleading---what is meant by happiness in the article itself is that Netflix employees more likely feel they're compensated fairly and aren't looking for other jobs.

That is, however, really nice confirmation that Netflix does in fact live what I was told when I interviewed there, that Netflix prides itself on offering the best comp package in industry. (They followed that by casually offering to more than triple my salary, so I had some inkling they weren't just making that up, but it's easy to write off one data point in a high-demand field as an anomaly.)

I'm most impressed that Amazon is doing as well as it is in those rankings, given how much shit they've gotten in the press over the last few years.

It's too bad their happiness can't translate into ultrawide video being displayed properly on an ultrawide monitor in my browser. I have tried a few times to inform them but I guess it either gets lost before it ever reaches the people who can fix it, or they just don't care to fix it.

Black bars surrounding all four sides of the video (only with ultrawide content on ultrawide browser) because their app can't properly apply video dimension to the user screen dimension is kind of sad.

It's a little hard to believe they don't know about it, because I'm not the only one affected. There are even some compromise-options users contribute through use of Chrome extensions like this one:


Even this is not a good solution, because Chrome is limited to 720p (Edge goes to 4k).

So.. users can either get a smaller video in a box centered on their screen, but with higher resolution, or they can get actual fullscreen with a poorly supported browser at penalty of a lower resolution.

I know, not the best place for bug reports, but customer support, Twitter, other social media all have failed to solve this for a good year and a half.. Hopefully one of their engineers can read this and think "I feel empowered enough at my job to be able to pursue a solution to this."

They chose BSD (freebsd) over Linux.

Actually, both Linux and BSD are used - BSD on OpenConnect cache appliances, but Linux for the entire backend running in AWS.

They are actively working on the FreeBSD kernel, see Drew's post that I linked to (they did enough work to fill 100Gbit/sec pipe with 100,000 TCP connections. Impressive stuff).

FreeBSD is used because they can get their work into the kernel, Linux is harder to change.

The Linux use appears to me to just be VMs in AWS, it's just a service.

Is this relevant in any way to the article?

Probably has to do with Netflix being TV for people to watch, and Facebook, Google being the equivalent of Orwell’s TV that watches you.

I have no clue how netflix can survive with the price and being able to virtually download everything they have in their library.


Exactly. I've pirated a ton of movies in my time, but it's so much easier to sit down on the coach from a long day of work, fire up the Apple TV and scroll through and watch all the good originals that Netflix has.

among my friends/acquaintances Netflix has higher or comparable totals (much north of $400K) with significantly, like on the order of 2x, higher base than FB/Google - makes for much happier existence :)

Probably the free movies!

Because they get paid a lot!!

I attribute and applaud the strong leadership of Reed Hastings. Apple and Tim Cook is another example. Both companies keep their products and secrets close to their chest, and don't put-up with employees who think their political views or personal agendas are more important than the company. Leadership by committee (Google is notorious) in my view is not the answer. Large public companies should be dictatorships. The quote; and I'll be sure to get it right (oops Texans owner) "the inmates are running the asylum" holds true for Google and Facebook.

Why should they be dictatorships?

I guess because there is no established successful business model of having 100 people giving management direction to a company. Would be easy to disprove though.

Seems like selection bias. Netflix fires you if you’re not happy.

That's not a selection bias. It's (if true) an actual part of the cause of Netflix engineers being happy with their job. If the headline 'People who have worked at Netflix at some time in the past are happier' then yes, only asking people who are still there would be selection bias.

Really? See, I've actually kind of been following netflix for a while, kind of excitedly. A no bullshit company that pays a lot when you are productive, and fires you when you are not. Sounds like my sort of thing.

But... if they also require you to "be happy" and otherwise put yourself in the required company emotional state... that makes them a lot less attractive. Generally speaking, I lose a lot of respect for companies or people who value "culture fit" over productivity, and I generally have a hard time "singing the company anthem" as it were.

(Note, some people confuse 'politeness' with culture fit. Being polite, being able to avoid spilling your bad feelings inappropriately is part of working with other people. But being part of a culture is not.)

Is it bad that Netflix fires people who are not happy working for them?

I think the parent comment meant that since unhappy people are fired, remaining people are happy ones and these happy ones participated in the survey thus resulting into the survey result... selection bias. It is not about whether it is good for netflix or not.

Fair comment.

But I wasn’t really thinking about what’s good for Netflix. I was actually thinking about the employees. If you are unhappy at an employer : is it bad if you are fired for not being happy?

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