Netflix Hires Top Facebook Exec to Replace Jonathan Friedland as PR Chief

Rachel Whetstone will replace the streamer's former head of communications, who was fired in June for using the N-word at the office.
Andrew Parsons/PA Wire/ AP Photo
Rachel Whetstone

Netflix has finally found a replacement for its former head of communications Jonathan Friedland, who was fired earlier this summer for using the N-word in a meeting. The streaming giant has hired top Facebook executive Rachel Whetstone as company's chief communications officer, a Netflix rep confirmed Monday.

"Rachel is a proven communications leader and a strong addition to the Netflix team," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. "Her deep knowledge and international expertise will be invaluable as we bring Netflix and its expanding lineup of original content to an increasingly global audience."

Added Whetstone, who previously led communications and policy at Uber and Google: "I'm so excited to be joining Netflix and being part of this amazing company's story." She joins Netflix from the Mark Zuckerberg-run social network, and is the latest in a string of high-profile execs to leave the beleaguered tech company. Others to recently exit Facebook include Whetstone's boss, Elliot Schrage, as well as business development head Dan Rose.

Sources say the British-born PR veteran Whetstone will remain at Facebook for the next couple of months to ensure a smooth transition, and that vp communications Caryn Marooney will continue to lead the comms team, as she did before Whetstone arrived a year ago.

"It’s been amazing to be able to learn from one of the best over this last year," said Marooney. "We are grateful for what Rachel has brought to our team and we know she will have continued success at Netflix."

Whetstone is replacing Friedland, who was let go in June for "his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work," according to an internal memo Hastings later sent to staff explaining the firing. Friedland first uttered the word during a PR meeting about sensitive words, after which several employees present told him how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the word was.

The longtime Netflix exec then used the word again in front of two black employees in Netflix's human resources group who were trying to help him deal with his original offense. "The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now," wrote Hastings.

Recode was first to report the news of Whetstone's hiring.