The Experience
Teach at Jolt

Remember Blockbuster? You should remember their mistake...

Nina Gordon
October 6, 2019

Netflix co-founders Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph merged their previous companies (Pure Software and Atria) in the mid-90s. Then sold the business for $700 million.

Shortly after, when Hastings was late returning Apollo 13 to his local Blockbuster and had to pay a $40 fine, he found a gap in the market.

With emerging tech — DVDs — coming in hot he bought a few CDs from Tower Records in California and posted them to himself. Twenty four hours later they arrived without a scratch. 

On August 29th 1997, Kibble was incorporated and started renting out videos by post. You could rent DVDs for $4 plus $2 postage. In 1999 the business became a subscription service with no late return fees, users just had to return their previous rentals to get the next one.

Kibble changed to Netflix.com and then later just Netflix- a word play on “internet” and “flicks”.

A decade later, the founders moved the original subscription service to an independent subsidiary - Qwikster (in case their new idea didn’t work out) and focused on a film streaming service.

They offered Blockbuster a partnership in 2000 and got laughed at by the CEO. Blockbuster also turned down the chance to buy Netflix for $50 million. Today, Netflix is one of the top distributors and producers of Hollywood movies online with a Market Cap in 2014 of $22.35 Billion and a $331.89 share price, Blockbuster went bust.

Blockbuster, once a very successful business, failed to see where the industry was headed and suffered the consequences. The Netflix co-founders saw a gap in the market and acted on it and they continue to adapt their offering based on the needs of their consumers. Companies must adjust fast, and keep up with emerging technologies and adopt the start-up mindset to survive. 

Jolt. Teaching startup business.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

Because almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.

Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...

Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.

And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.

The cognitive load is real, y'all.

But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.

Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.

The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.

Your dreams don't have an expiration date.

Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.

And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.

Here's a challenge for you

Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.

Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.

When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.


"A spark of inspiration needs an empty cave."

Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

Taken by over 18,500 people; Calibrated by 100s of tech employees

By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

Totally Disagree
Totally Agree
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.