To remain successful, companies have to be ruthless about killing their own ideas. The smartest ones kill off their bad innovations quickly, as happened today, when Netflix’s affable CEO Reed Hastings admitted that the company’s plans to separate its DVD rental service from its online streaming unit would make life unnecessarily “difficult” for its loyal customers.
The decision came three months after Netflix announced that it was creating a separate payment plan for DVDs and streamed movies, and less than three weeks after Hastings appeared in what may be the world’s cheapest-looking corporate video to offer his sincere apologies for mishandling Netflix’s confusing news — before informing users that he had more of it. Specifically, he said, beyond two payment plans, Netflix would be breaking itself into two companies: Netflix for streaming video, and brand-new Qwikster for DVD rentals.
Whether the zaniness will hurt Netflix in the long term remains to be seen, but at least we gained a very funny “Saturday Night Live” sketch from it. Check it out, along with seven other, terrible, short-lived ideas.