Netflix Co-CEO says 3 execs were fired for repeatedly making 'critical, personal comments' about their peers in a public Slack channel

Netflix Co-CEO says 3 execs were fired for repeatedly making 'critical, personal comments' about their peers in a public Slack channel
Netflix fired three senior executives for airing complaints about their boss on Slack, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ryan Anson/Getty Images
  • Netflix fired three senior execs for criticizing company leadership, The Hollywood Reporter said.
  • Co-CEO Ted Sarandos disputed the report, saying that the execs had disparaged their peers.
  • The messages were "inconsistent" with the company's policy of "radical transparency," Sarandos said.

The three Netflix marketing executives whose firing made news last week had made unprofessional comments about their peers in a non-private Slack channel, according to Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

"What happened here was unfortunately not simply venting on Slack or a single conversation," said Sarandos in a comment posted on LinkedIn. "These were critical, personal comments made over several months about their peers (not their management as suggested by The Hollywood Reporter)."

The Hollywood Reporter article Sarandos was referring to said that the executives were fired for criticizing their bosses.

The executives, who accounted for around half of Netflix's staff at that level according to the publication, had also criticized their direct boss, Jonathan Helfgot, the VP of original film marketing, THR reported, which said that while Helfgot himself was reluctant, he ultimately gave in to pressure from more senior leadership to fire the three employees.

In a statement to Insider, a Netflix spokesperson disputed the nature of the behavior that led to the apparent firings: "The depiction of the Slack messages in question being critical of marketing leadership is untrue," the spokesperson said, declining to clarify to Insider the language the employees used.


Netflix is known for a unique company culture that it famously outlined publicly in a 127-slide deck in 2009, which stated that it valued "radical transparency" - a value that leads to intense feedback during its annual 360-degree reviews.

While the former executives thought they were chatting in a private channel, it was in fact viewable by anyone at the company. The messages dating back several months were discovered and reported by another employee.

The executives' gripes also targeted Netflix chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John, according to THR. Saint John, a rising star in the company, has gained a reputation for her connections to political luminaries like the Obamas and fashion icons like Anna Wintour, and is known as unapologetically outspoken and a role model for women of color who have been notoriously underrepresented at the executive level of major companies.

Sarandos said the Slack messages were "entirely inconsistent" with the company's long-held policy of "radical transparency" that emphasizes open communication and tough feedback.

"It's also worth noting that we don't proactively monitor Slack or email," Sarandos said.