Netflix hires Facebook gaming executive Mike Verdu as part of a deeper push into entertainment

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(L-R) Co-CEOs of Netflix Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos arrive for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 06, 2021 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Netflix has hired video-game executive Mike Verdu from Facebook, where he was vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality content, as the company makes a deeper push into gaming.

Prior to his two years at Facebook, Verdu worked at gaming companies Electronic Arts, Kabam, Zynga and Atari, dating back to the late 1990s. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the hire, which Bloomberg was first to report.

Netflix shares rose 2% in extended trading on Wednesday.

The move reflects Netflix’s ambition to go beyond offering television shows and movies to its more than 200 million subscribers. Like the streaming business, online gaming is getting more competitive, as Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all investing in the category.

Netflix has been slowly making its way into the market for about two years. The company said at the E3 gaming conference in 2019 that it was releasing a mobile game based on the “Stranger Things” series, following an announced launch of Stranger Things 3: The Game for consoles and PCs. The company also said it was creating Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics as an adaptation of the Netflix movie “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”

In its shareholder letter in 2019, Netflix pointed to the game Fortnite as competition. The Information reported in May that Netflix was seeking an executive for a push into gaming.

— CNBC’s Alex Sherman and Ari Levy contributed to this report.

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