Mark Randolph is an author, mentor, investor, and serial tech entrepreneur who is best known for founding Netflix with Reed Hastings in 1997. While Randolph has a net worth of around $500 million, he lives a relatively modest life and believes the money associated with start-up and entrepreneur culture is over-glorified.
Cherry Lane Music
Randolph’s first real job was at the Cherry Lane Music company in New York in 1981. There, he was tasked with finding different ways to sell sheet music to customers, and in the process, learned various direct mail and marketing strategies.
In particular, Randolph was fascinated with consumer purchase behavior and how it could be tracked with computer software to increase retention. The technology was still in its infancy, but it would later influence his decision to create a user interface that also served as a market research platform at Netflix.
Borland International and others
Randolph then found himself at software giant Borland International in 1988. He spent the next seven years building direct-to-consumer marketing operations before a series of short stints at Silicon Valley companies such as Visioneer, Integrity QA, and Pure Software.
At Pure Software, Randolph met founder Reed Hastings and the two discussed the idea for Netflix as they carpooled to work. When Pure Software was acquired by Rational Software in 1997, Hastings obtained the necessary capital to make the idea a reality.
Randolph put his industry experience to use at Netflix with its mail-order system enabling consumers to rent movies from the comfort of their homes.
The pair identified that while Blockbuster was dominant, the industry was ripe for disruption with mail-order DVDs since the company still required customers to visit its stores. “You want a big enough category that, if you’re successful, you have enough room to run. You want a disruptable environment”, Randolph once explained.
Randolph left Netflix in 2002 once the company had a scalable, repeatable business model because he believed his skills were better suited to the process of discovery.
Looker Data Sciences
Randolph joined Looker Data Sciences in 2013 as a board member and currently serves as its director. The company, which sells a business intelligence and data exploration platform, was acquired by Google in 2019 and was incorporated into the Google Cloud Platform.
Entrepreneur mentorship and other pursuits
In more recent years, Randolph has become a passionate mentor of entrepreneurs. In October 2017, he joined High Point University as Entrepreneur in Residence and worked with students in the areas of entrepreneurship, business, and communication.
He is also a keynote speaker on similar topics around the world and, in 2019, wrote a book titled That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea about his adventures with Hastings.
Randolph’s life philosophy is based on his love of mountaineering – an activity he has enjoyed since the age of 14 and one which keeps him sane in business. Such is his passion for the outdoors that he serves as chairman of the board of trustees for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander, Wyoming.
- Mark Randolph is an author, mentor, investor, and serial tech entrepreneur who is best known for founding Netflix with Reed Hastings in 1997.
- Randolph’s first real job was at the Cherry Lane Music company in New York in 1981. There, he found different ways to sell sheet music to customers and learned various direct mail and marketing strategies.
- Randolph met Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings at Pure Software where the pair discussed the idea for the company whilst carpooling to work. Randolph left Netflix in 2002 once the company had matured. Today, he mentors entrepreneurs and serves on the board of trustees for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
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