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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Tried To Recruit Sony Entertainment CEO To His Board

Leaked emails show that Hastings tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit Michael Lynton to serve on Netflix's board of directors at the end of 2013.

Posted on December 16, 2014, at 6:32 p.m. ET

Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix.
Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix.

Towards the end of last year, as Sony Entertainment chief executive officer Michael Lynton was preparing for a crucial presentation for investors, Netflix chief Reed Hastings continued to recruit him to serve on his company's board of directors.

On November 14, Hastings emailed Lynton, "Have you gotten any clearer sense of your ability to join our board in December? I'd love to come down and ply you with wine if that is the right course. Would also like to start getting you up to speed for the Dec 10th board." Lynton passed it off, saying he would explain more on the phone, but cited the upcoming investor day as making December "a bit unrealistic," but noted "wine is alway welcome!"

For a business deeply connected to movies and TV, Netflix's current board has no entertainment executives as prominent as Lynton — it has two venture capitalists, a former Amazon executive, Zillow chief executive Richard Barton, former Ask Jeeves CEO A. George Battle, and former Pixar chief financial officer Ann Mather. The emails came a month after Sony and Netflix reached a deal in October to produce an original series for the streaming service.

When Lynton declined Hastings' offer, the Netflix chief didn't give up hope he could get him on his board: "Let's table the board thing, then, as the stars just not aligning, and we can always revisit in future years," Hastings wrote.

Jonathan Friedland, a Netflix spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News "We have nothing to say about confidential correspondence of any sort." A Sony spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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