Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings announced Thursday that he would step down after more than two decades at the company.

While news of his departure comes as a shock, Hastings noted that Netflix has planned its next era of leadership “for many years” in the announcement, which was shared on the company’s blog.

In 2020, Netflix named Ted Sarandos, who has long led content efforts at the company, as co-CEO alongside Hastings. At the time, Netflix characterized the change as formalizing the way that the company was already operating.

Netflix will maintain the co-CEO structure in Hasting’s absence, promoting COO Greg Peters to the tandem role with Sarandos.

“It was a baptism by fire, given COVID and recent challenges within our business,” Hastings said of Sarandos and Peters taking the reins.

“But they’ve both managed incredibly well, ensuring Netflix continues to improve and developing a clear path to reaccelerate our revenue and earnings growth. So the board and I believe it’s the right time to complete my succession.”

Hastings will stay involved with the company as executive chairman of the board, following a precedent shared by other prominent major tech company founders including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

The news comes shortly before Netflix is set to report its fourth quarter earnings after market close on Thursday. The company introduced an ad-supported subscription tier in November and Thursday’s report will offer the first real glimpse into how that new product might shift the company’s fortunes now that streaming’s early pandemic boom times are over.

At CES earlier this month, a Netflix ad executive noted the range of advertisers that the company has already attracted, describing that as a boon for consumers who are eager to offset their monthly costs with a Hulu-like ad-supported subscription.

 

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