I think it is an amazing plan. I was able to choose more equity because I had a working wife and no kids. Others chose more cash. One guy chose 100% equity, and is now retired.
being able to choose 100% equity would suggest a particular level of financial independence before even starting. how long did they work without a salary? did they regularly sell equity as a salary-replacement?
If it was straight stock, then yes it would be rather equivalent to getting cash and then buying stock right away.
I guess this is purely academic for Netflix, but one difference in other companies is that the grant is made ahead of time, and the stock price can rise or fall before it vests.
If (say) you expect the stock to rise with the market, and you expect the market to rise at 7% a year, you might also expect your income from vesting stock to also rise at 7% per year over the vesting period (typically four years) regardless of any raises or promotions.
I have heard of some companies adjusting subsequent grants based on changes in value of invested stock, though. I think policies there vary.