todd yellin
Todd Yellin, VP of Product Innovation at Netflix

Todd Yellin is Netflix’s VP of Product Development. His role revolves around changing the way people find great streaming content to watch over the Internet on their TVs, computers, and mobile devices. He is in charge of gathering vast amounts of data across numerous viewing devices to create an easy, compelling way for Netflix members to find something to watch. He also oversees member acquisition and how to best leverage social and messaging.

According to Yellin, “big data” carries a huge misconception. He believes big data creates more problems than it solves. It requires you to sift through heaps of data to find the information that will actually benefit users. This data is few and far between.

In his Big Think video, “Why Netflix Has Never Envied the Success of Google or Facebook,” Yellin discusses why he appreciates Netflix’s simple user-based subscription model. Especially in comparison to Google and Facebook’s user and advertiser based model.

Discussing ‘Big Data’

“So it’s funny, big data has been kind of a cliché in Silicon Valley for the last few years: big data this, big data that,” says Yellin. “Big data is really one big mountain of garbage with little gems buried it in [it]. And you want to find those gems — you really want to find out what’s going to make the experience better.”

“So there are a lot of sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that Netflix uses to really figure out what are the gems that are going to make a better experience. And what’s the rubbish that you want to separate out and push to the side?,” continues Yellin. “Once you find those gems, it doesn’t make it a more alienated, machine experience. It actually makes it a more personal experience. It becomes much more about the individual member.”

Yellin says that although Google and Facebook can be good partners for Netflix at times, he does not envy their jobs because they are completely different than his.

“When we have all this data we have one purpose for [it] and that’s to make each individual member’s experience better. There are no advertisers, [only subscribers],” says Yellin. “But if you’re at a Google or a Facebook you’re doing really interesting work but you serving two masters: you’re serving the consumer and you’re serving the advertiser. So when you getting all that big data you’re constantly in this conflict.”

View Todd Yellin’s full video, here.

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