Netflix has long loomed as a threat to established content providers like Disney and Comcast. Now, investors have made it more valuable, too. Thanks to a 75% stock market rally so far in 2018, the streaming service has a market value of more than $152 billion, ahead of both Comcast and Disney,according to Forbes.
In turn, the net worth of Netflix cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings has skyrocketed as well—over $1.4 billion so far this year—to an estimated $3.7 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time billionaire rankings. He is the 639th richest person in the world. Hastings owns about 2.5% of Netflix’ stock, which includes a large number of options. He exercises those options and sells them on a regular basis; Forbes estimates that he’s accumulated nearly $600 million (after taxes) from share sales over the years. In 2016, Hastings announced he was putting $100 million into a philanthropic fund for education.
His ascent is years in the making. In June 2014, Hastings first joined the ranks of the World’s Billionaires, after Netflix’ share price rose above $400. (Netflix subsequently implemented a seven-to-one stock split in July 2015.)
By March 2016, Hastings’ fortune had inched up to $1.2 billion. From there his gains accelerated. The following March his net worth reached $1.8 billion; then $2.2 billion in September 2017; and finally $3.6 billion as of this week, a record high.
Investors are clearly pleased with the company’s revenue and user growth. In 2014, Netflix said it had 48 million subscribers in over 40 nations. It now boats 125 million subscribers in more than 190 countries. Between 2014 and 2017, annual revenues climbed from $5.5 billion to $11.7 billion.