A ‘Netflix Original’ Aggie

Mizrahi, who has been married to his husband Doug Cullum for eight years, says UC Davis’ welcoming community was the most influential part of his college experience, and he seeks to foster a similar environment now that he is a leader at Netflix. 

UC Davis alumnus shares what it’s like to be an executive at one of the fastest growing tech companies

By Laura Pizzo

When people find out what Tim Mizrahi ’98 does professionally, they usually have two reactions. First, they are really excited to meet the vice president of business & legal affairs and content acquisition at Netflix because they love the service. Second, they want to know why their favorite show isn’t available for streaming.

“I’m always prepared for these conversations,” he laughed. “If I wear a Netflix sweatshirt when I walk my dog, I’m invariably going to be stopped, but I like that people are excited about what we do. And rest assured, we are very thoughtful about which content we put on our service.”

Mizrahi explained that Netflix analysts develop sophisticated models to determine what kind of content would be successful. There are also teams devoted to evaluating scripts and determining what subscribers want to binge watch. Then, Mizrahi’s legal team joins in to help with the acquisition, along with various other complex legal issues the company encounters across 190 countries and 93 million customers.

“Every 18 months, I feel like I am doing a different job,” he said. “I love the variety. When I started, our LA office where I work had around 40 people; now, there are more than 800.”

As an executive at the second-fastest growing Fortune 500 tech company, Mizrahi has learned to be flexible. Initially hired to help with the company’s first international launch, Mizrahi now focuses largely on the company’s major studio television, film licensing and reality TV series. In 2016, Netflix released more than 600 hours of original content, including dozens of original shows. “No matter how stressful things get at work, how many hundreds of millions or billions of dollars a deal may be, at the end of the day, I’m trying to get content to entertain people,” he said. “I’m not saving lives. I’m not getting a spaceship to Mars. So I really try to keep that sense of humility and calm and respect, which was fostered in me by the culture at UC Davis.”

Mizrahi’s UC Davis experience included studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, as well as working in the study abroad office and attending events put on by the LGBTQIA Center.

“As I look back at my time at UC Davis, I think the culture was most important to my professional and personal development,” said Mizrahi, who has been married to his husband Doug Cullum for eight years. “The community was welcoming, energizing and respectful. Those qualities were hugely important to me as a student and a member of the LGBT community—and I continue to strive for them today.”

Note: This story originally appeared in the spring 2017 issue of AggieXtra.