Last week I had the opportunity to go backstage at Netflix’s Silicon Valley headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. to witness the real-time launch of the second season of House of Cards, the streaming company’s Emmy-winning political drama.
It was fun to watch the run-up to the late-night launch – at midnight Pacific time on Valentine’s Day – and how the new episodes quickly became the most-watched videos on Netflix. Check out my written fly-on-the-wall account.
But it’s a visual story too, so I thought I’d share some of the photos I took from the company’s headquarters, starting with its main lobby, which was obviously deserted at that time of night. Amazingly, only a skeleton staff needed to be present to oversee the high-profile launch:
In keeping with tradition at technology companies, Netflix has cutesy names for its various meeting rooms. In this particular case, the rooms are all named after movies such as Lord of the Rings, King Kong and, of course, Batman:
Netflix has quite the killer theatre for employees to take in screenings of movies and TV episodes. I couldn’t help but wonder how much it might cost to build one similar to it at home:
As evidenced by the sign, the company had been holding screenings of the first new episode of House of Cards for employees all day:
The heart of the operation is the War Room (also known as the King Kong room), where staff gather to control the launch of a new series:
Ten TVs were set up around the War Room, with each displaying Netflix in a different language for testers to verify. This one here was ready for Canadian French:
The War Room’s main screen showed a countdown to launch as well as a real-time Twitter stream of people talking about House of Cards. Two main themes gleaned from the stream: people were either asking each other not to post spoilers, or they were confused about what time the new episodes were going live:
Here’s what the launch of a TV series looks like in the modern age – a few individuals sitting around a board room huddled over their laptops:
And here’s a panorama of the full War Room – click to get a better view:
Everything went smoothly during the launch, including the French subtitles for Canada:
And yes, there was even House of Cards merch to be found, such as these drink glasses – which are no doubt intended to help you party like Peter Russo (that’s a joke related to the series – you’ll have to watch it to get it):