Netflix broadens its focus by hiring Facebook executive as gaming VP

Mike Verdu founded his own defence software company aged 20

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Netflix said on Wednesday it had hired a former Facebook executive to lead its video games unit as it ramped up its efforts to grow beyond its traditional streaming business.

The streaming giant hired Mike Verdu, who was most recently a Facebook vice-president of game development. He will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters.

Mr Verdu founded his own defence software company aged 20 and sold it before shifting his team into video games in 1990.

He has been there ever since, working at Atari, Electronic Arts, Kabam and other developers and overseeing games including Lord of the Rings.

Netflix’s expansion comes at a time when the company is looking at new ways to draw in subscribers in an attempt to stave off fierce competition from the likes of Disney+, Apple TV+ and AT&T’s HBO Max.

Netflix has previously experimented with interactive programming with movies such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and You vs Wild that enabled viewers to decide the characters’ moves.

It has also created games based on shows Stranger Things and La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) and recently launched an online store to sell merchandise related to its TV shows.