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To outsiders, the rise and fall of the Blockbuster video rental chain might look fated by market forces. The company grew up with the advent of video rental and declined with the rise of Netflix, Redbox, streaming and other technological forces.
From the inside, things look different. Blockbuster's growth was astonishing, but it also sacrificed the detail-oriented work of building out a sustainable company, according to former franchisee Alan Payne, author of a new book about Blockbuster titled "Built to Fail: The Inside Story of Blockbuster's Inevitable Bust."
In Payne's view, Blockbuster, under multiple CEOs, ignored its wealth of customer data, mismanaged its inventory and pricing, and botched critical strategic decisions at numerous forks in the road. The company was in decline long before Netflix became a force in movie watching.
In this episode of The Backroom, we talked with Payne about his time at Blockbuster, what went wrong and what retailers today can learn from the company's collapse.