Is Netflix about to buy a product it spun off in 2007?

Back in December 2007, Netflix nearly launched its own Roku.

Singdhi Sokpo

Yesterday, rumors flew of an impending Netflix acquisition of Roku.

Roku’s ad business made $647m in Q1 revenue, and it’s looking cheap with the stock down 55% this year. Though unlikely, buying Roku would give Netflix immediate access to lucrative ad products it could integrate.

But what about Roku’s physical devices?

Oh, right. Roku also makes actual TVs and streaming boxes, meaning Netflix would potentially be entering the hardware game, a space it almost certainly finds unappealing.

But back in December 2007, Netflix nearly did just that.

The company was weeks away from launching its own Roku box — code-named “Griffin” — with Roku founder Anthony Woods leading the development.

  • Prices were decided, ads were shot, and an internal spoof video titled “The Griffin Initiative” was even filmed, depicting Netflix employees playing “Pong” to a narrator saying, “Product managers… used highly evolved scientific processes…”

Abruptly, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings yanked the device and spun off the company, convinced it would complicate relationships with other hardware makers.

Almost 15 years later, barring some recent volatility, it seems like that was a rather wise decision.

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