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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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July 22, 2008 4:25 PM

Xbox deal must look sweet, Netflix boss buying Microsoft shares

Posted by Brier Dudley

A week after a new partnership to stream Netflix content on Xbox consoles was announced, Netflix Chief Executive (and Microsoft board member) Reed Hastings has acquired a bunch of Microsoft shares.

Hastings acquired 53,300 shares today in five separate blocks, at prices ranging from $25.54 to $25.60, or about $1.36 million combined.

Hastings now has 177,000 shares of Microsoft, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

As part of their Microsoft compensation, directors annually receive stock awards worth $120,000. In Microsoft's last proxy filing. In September, Hastings received $90,000 worth since he only joined the board in March 2007.

I called Steve Swasey, vice president of communications at Netflix, to clarify whether Hastings is buying shares personally, in addition to his stock grants. He said the company won't comment on stock acquisitions of its executives, beyond what's listed in SEC filings.

Microsoft also encourages board members to own a "significant stake" in the company "to align the interests of our directors and shareholders,'' according to the proxy, so maybe Hastings is merely bringing his holdings up to par.

For appearance's sake, you wouldn't think he'd make the purchase a week after his company made a major partnership with Microsoft. But then, maybe MSFT is looking good in the $25 range.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.