What makes him powerful:
Reed Hastings, Netflix
Reed Hastings, CEO, Chairman and founder, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) may not be a traditional telco wireline executive, but it's hard not to notice the influence that his company has on the wireline broadband network.
After putting the movie rental market on its head and driving out much of the traditional movie rental business, including most notably Blockbuster (now part of Echostar), Netflix tapped into the then-nascent Internet video streaming market in 2007.
In a little over four years, Netflix has amassed a total of 20.01 million subscribers, the majority of which use their broadband connections to stream movies onto their PCs and TV screens through their gaming devices (Wii, Xbox or PlayStation) or Internet-enabled TVs.
According to a recent study by network management vendor Sandvine, Netflix movies and TV shows now account for about 30 percent of Internet traffic during peak hours.
Speaking to the consumer's insatiable desires for content, Netflix allows consumers to stream as many TV shows and movies as they want for $7.95 a month. Since the beginning of the year, Netflix has garnered deals to carry content from the likes of Paramount, CBS and Twentieth Century Fox.
But content is only one part of Netflix's game. New features such as its move to place a Netflix-branded one-click button on remotes that operate Internet connected TVs, Blu-ray disc players and other devices that provide an Internet connection to the TV are all about enhancing customer ease of use.
Of course, Hastings and Netflix hasn't been without its controversy, especially with cable operators and telcos that operate the last mile networks that consumers use to view the bandwidth hungry Netflix content.
Perhaps the most famous fight that Netflix has found itself in the middle of was between its CDN (content delivery network) partner Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT) and cable MSO Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA). In this battle, Level 3 argued that Comcast's unwillingness to accept heavier loads of network traffic violated the FCC's net neutrality rules.
Regardless of the potential fights Netflix and its partners will face with broadband service providers, the reality is Netflix is a phenomenon that's going to continue to gain momentum as consumers use their broadband connection as a foundation to access content.