Liberty Media’s John Malone says he tried to buy Netflix when it was trading at a mere $8 per share

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  • Liberty Media’s John Malone recalls DirecTV’s efforts to buy Netflix when he was president of the satellite-television service from 2008 to 2010.
  • “I tried to buy netflix [co-founder] Reed Hastings when the stock was eight bucks, but he wouldn’t sell it to me,” Malone told CNBC’s David Faber.
  • Netflix has come a long way since making $8 per share. The company is well on its way to becoming the most prominent video-streaming service on the planet, and it’s a beloved stock on Wall Street.

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John Malone, considered one of the smartest media investors of all time, told CNBC that he saw the importance of video streaming in the evolving television ecosystem even in its early days.

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In an interview that aired Thursday, the Liberty Media billionaire recalled DirecTV’s efforts to buy Netflix when he was chairman of the satellite-television service from 2008 to 2010.

“I tried to buy netflix [co-founder] Reed Hastings when the stock was eight bucks, but he wouldn’t sell it to me. You know, damn that bad luck,” Malone told CNBC’s David Faber in the lead-up to Liberty Media’s Investor Day on Thursday. The event was held in New York City and virtually.

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Netflix has come a long way since making $8 per share. It’s well on its way to becoming the most prominent video-streaming service on the planet, and it’s a beloved stock on Wall Street. Shares of Netflix hit an all-time high of $700.99 on Wednesday, a gain of 8,660% since then.

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Malone acknowledged the profit Netflix has made for itself by entering mass streaming, reiterating comments he made to CNBC back in 2017 citing a failed attempt to buy Netflix. “I tried very hard to buy Netflix for DirecTV,” he said then. “Reid was very clear that his ambition was to build a huge global company. And he was right to do so.”

Fast forward to 2021, Malone said, “the market is clearly putting a heavy market valuation on Netflix — and clearly, Netflix relative to Disney.” Netflix, which launched its streaming service in 2007, had about 214 million global streaming paid subscribers at the end of the latest quarter. Disney+, which was launched two years ago, had 118.1 million subscribers, including Hotstar, the service’s brand in India.

Malone told Faber, “You should ask me, ‘John, why didn’t you invest more heavily in Google or Facebook or Amazon? Why did you stay with these old businesses,’ you know? And I’m guilty of that.” “

The veteran media tycoon marveled at what Big Tech and their leaders have achieved. He said, “[Amazon’s] Jeff Bezos is a genius at what he has created. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook [with Apple] Netflix CEOs, including Hastings, have been efficient. “These are brilliant businessmen who have seized an opportunity, seen the power of a global scale, and taken advantage of it,” Malone said.

Netflix was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Malone’s comments.

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