“DVD retail prices will continue to spiral downwards, which means more people will buy films on impulse rather than as a planned purchase,” says Calver, who spoke to us as part of our My First Million project in association with Orange. “For us, that means providing even newer releases for rental and more choice. I also think 2009 will be a Blu-ray Christmas. Watching a Blu-ray film on a big, high-definition screen is an amazing experience – it’s as good as the cinema but without the noise or the popcorn on the floor.”
Calver cut his teeth at Dell Computers before becoming the boss of DVD online rental firm Video Island, which merged with LoveFilm in 2006. “I’ve always loved movies and saw an opportunity to disrupt the existing rental market by providing a service that was cheaper than the high-street and offered more choice,” he says.
He reckons LoveFilm, which signed up its one-millionth member at the end of last year, is well placed to ride out the recession. “We’re doing well,” he says. “Turnover in 2008 was north of £70m. This year, we’ll hit £100m. Instead of going out to fancy restaurants, people are economising by staying in and renting films.
“But that doesn’t mean we can be complacent. Businesses tend to collapse because they spend money ahead of their ‘growth curve’. That was one of the things that Michael Dell was maniacally focused on: grow your business but grow it in line with your resources. Don’t invest so far ahead that it takes you a year or so to catch up. It’s far too much of a risk.”
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