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Longtime Netflix Marketing Chief Leslie Kilgore Bumped To The Board

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In a move that seems designed to shore up confidence in its communications skills following the Qwikster and price-hike debacle, longtime Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) marketing chief Leslie Kilgore is moving to the board.

She’ll be replaced in the interim by Jessie Becker while the company conducts an external search to fill the job.
Also announced by Netflix late Friday, Jonathan Friedland, who joined the company early last year to lead communications has been promoted to chief communications officer. Both report directly to CEO Reed Hastings.

Kilgore, who has been employed by Netflix since 2000 and is one of the company’s most highly compensated managers, will be a non-executive director.

The switch comes after the most tumultuous six-month period in Netflix’s history. In July, its subscribers – and subsequently, its investors – roundly rejected the company’s decision to split pricing for its DVD and streaming services, causing some bills to rise by 60 percent.

That was followed in September by the even more poorly received decision by Netflix to spin the company’s DVD rental business off into an operation called Qwikster. Although the pricing change stuck, that decision was quickly reversed.

Netflix stock, which had peaked at $298.73 a share on July 13, dropped all the way to a $63.86 nadir on Nov. 25. The company also revealed in its third-quarter earnings report that it had lost 800,000 subscribers during the period. Netflix next reports earnings Jan. 24.

In after-hours trading Friday, Netflix’s stock price was valued at $100.20 a share on the NASDAQ – up from a value of $93.39 Wednesday after an NPD Group report indicated the company still controls 55 percent of the fast-growing U.S. movie- and TV-streaming market. Netflix will deliver its fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday.

Kilgore – a Wharton School and Stanford graduate who had previously served as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble and as director of marketing for Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) – helped manage a period of huge growth for Netflix in the 2000s, leading the creation its iconic “red envelope” brand identity.

Becker, herself an 11-year Netflix veteran, moves up from her post as VP of marketing for the company, overseeing acquisition channels. She also has a Wharton School/Stanford pedigree and an Amazon background.

Friedland arrived at Netflix in February 2011 from a communications post at Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Pictures. Prior to that, he served a lengthy term as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal (NSDQ: NWS) and was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the 9/11 aftermath.

Both Becker and Friedland will report to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.