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Netflix Poaches Facebook’s Top PR Exec

Rachel Whetstone

Rachel Whetstone

After a two-month search, Netflix has filled its top corporate communications position, hiring away Facebook’s top PR executive, Rachel Whetstone.

Whetstone replaces Jonathan Friedland, a former Disney executive and seven-year Netflix veteran who was fired under very transparent circumstances back in June for what the company described as inappropriate language choices.

If the top streaming service is a hotbed for drama, also factoring in the conspicuous exit of House of Cards star Kevin Spacey last year, Whetstone seems to have the career experience to weather the storm.

In recent months, of course, her plate has been full managing PR issues including Facebook’s growing reputation as a global privacy scourge, not to mention accusations that it’s letting itself be used as a tool for Russian election influence.

Whetstone’s resume also includes stops at Uber, where she worked for founder and ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, and Google.

As for Friedland, he was very publicly let go in June, with Netflix CEO describing the PR executive’s use of racial language … in meetings about the use of racial language.

“I’ve made a decision to let go of Jonathan Friedland. Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity, and is not in line with our values as a company,” Hastings wrote in a widely distributed company memo.

"I'm leaving Netflix after seven years," said Friedland, responding in a statement. ”Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy. I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated. I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of this collective adventure in building the world's leading entertainment service."