Netflix’s fabled “culture deck,” which over the years has taken on the importance of the Magna Carta in tech and business circles, has gotten some updates reflecting the streaming giant’s current circumstances.
The document, which is based on a PowerPoint deck created by Co-Founder and Co-CEO Reed Hastings, lays out precepts guiding employee priorities and the company’s overall approach. It has been posted publicly for years, revised at various intervals, and viewed more than 20 million times. Its section headings (“Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled,” “Disagree Then Commit”) echo some of the pillars of the company’s uniquely articulated culture. Hastings elaborated on many of those tenets in his 2020 book, No Rules Rules.
In a section called “Judgment,” a new bullet point is phrased in the imperative tense: “You spend our members’ money wisely.” At a current level estimated at $20 billion in 2022, Netflix’s content spending is under harsh scrutiny after the company posted its first subscriber declines in more than a decade in the first quarter and indicated more losses in the current quarter. More than two-thirds of its market value has vanished over the past six months. While the company is unlikely to radically slash its spending, management has signaled a new commitment to trimming the fat and some shows and employees have already been cut loose as that process begins.
Another newly updated section, “Artistic Expression,” indirectly references recent controversies over titles like Cuties or Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer. The latter, released last fall, created a fierce backlash and a large-scale walkout by employees upset over Chappelle’s broadsides against transgender people. Netflix resisted calls for the special to be taken down from its service.
“Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view,” the section says. Ratings, content warnings and parental controls are all tools aimed at helping subscribers avoid content that may upset them, the document adds.
“Not everyone will like—or agree with—everything on our service,” it goes on. “While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”
Variety first reported on the update to the document.