Roku, the streaming hardware company, began its life in 2007 as “Project Griffin,” a Netflix initiative to make streaming easier. Netflix decided at the last minute to spin the project into its own company and Roku went public in 2017.
But Roku employees are now speculating their former parent company might become their new one. Roku recently disallowed employees from trading its shares, according to a report from Insider, a move that signals the possibility of an impending acquisition. Roku staff reportedly see Netflix as the most likely candidate.
The potential deal says a lot about how streaming has changed in the past 15 years. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings originally decided not to launch the device that became Roku because he worried it would hurt his ability to partner with companies like Apple. At the time that made sense: Streaming was nascent, Netflix was still mostly a DVD-by-mail service, and its ambition was to be the best high-end content library with the best recommendations. Getting into hardware might rouse giants in tech and cable.