Netflix Is the New Francis Underwood

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) is a lot more like House of Cards' crafty Francis Underwood than you may think. Both have had to scheme past weaker rivals on the way to the top. Netflix and Underwood also seem to have seen their brazen ruthlessness grow as their power expands, and they're not afraid to smear the competition to retain control.

I won't spill House of Cards spoilers. That's the way Underwood has been from the start. However, there's no shame in giving away a key scene that Netflix has chosen to stage.

A Netflix-produced video skewering's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) wild dreams for drone-delivered orders has gone public, and it certainly does smack the leading e-tailer and Netflix's nearest rival when it comes to stand-alone streaming smorgasbords.

Netflix has gone on the defensive in support of the lighthearted clip after a few media reports criticized the lampooning.

"Press says we are satirizing Amazon," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posted on Facebook last night, arguing that his company admires Amazon. "Our playful drone video was for an internal company meeting as fun, and it was so cute we wanted to share. I hope my Amazon Prime will include drone delivery someday!"

Hastings may be playing down the humorous clip, but there's no denying that it was made with the intention to rain satire on Jeff Bezos' company.

"Unlike other companies trying to rush unproven technology to market, we have literally spent days working out most of the bugs," the video goes in describing the fictional Drone2Home platform of drone-delivered Netflix DVDs.

Yes, Netflix is mocking Amazon's drone dream. It's not the only time that Netflix has called out a rival. Catch Netflix's latest earnings call, in which Hastings takes a shot at Time Warner.  The media giant's HBO is also a major rival to Netflix these days, and he took a jab at the premium movie channel's chief, Richard Plepler, when asked about the sharing of HBO GO passwords. He joked that Plepler's HBO GO password was "Netflix" followed by an expletive. That is so Underwood.

There's nothing wrong with a cocky CEO who takes public shots at the competition. Larry Ellison does it. Steve Jobs did it. Hastings probably isn't going to stop. As long as the stock continues cranking out market-thumping gains, there's no point in silencing him or denying him what he craves.

Hastings is Underwood, and you don't want to be a wounded dog, disgraced politico, or info-hungry blogger on a Metro platform when he's around.

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  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 2:01 PM, 45ACPbullseye wrote:

    Fun read Rick! Best, Bill

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 2:21 PM, ZonaBob wrote:

    Rick knows of where he speaks, and Wilmot Reed H. is no Motley Fool: ["Once you have hitchhiked across Africa with ten bucks in your pocket, starting a business doesn't seem too intimidating"; after returning from the Peace Corps, Hastings went on to attend Stanford University: "I didn’t get into my first choice, which was MIT, but I got accepted to Stanford," he says (he graduated in 1988 with a master's degree in computer science)].

    Not many CEOs of that caliber - and not many entrepreneurs who understand the public 'vein' to such an awesome extent (well, you could include Tim Westergren of Pandora), or, play it to-the-hilt like WRH. Just keep on watchin'.

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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