Success the LOVEFiLM Way - How to Grow a FastGrowth Business in Fast Changing Times
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More About This Title Success the LOVEFiLM Way - How to Grow a FastGrowth Business in Fast Changing Times


As you might expect from a company responsible for renting so many thrillers, there’s rarely a dull moment at LOVEFiLM. 


From start-up, through mergers and fast paced growth, culminating in a takeover by an internet giant, few corporate adventures encapsulate the archetypal modern business story as neatly as that of LOVEFiLM.   In the 6 years from inception to the defining deal with Amazon, the company underwent a near constant process of change and evolution. They simply didn’t sit still for a minute.


As the chief executive who guided LOVEFiLM through these fast-paced times, Simon Calver tells the story of how they grew the company from a series of small start-ups into a multi-million pound enterprise and well-love household name.  Calver offers his personal insights and key lessons on everything from how to manage spectacular growth, to the importance of taking big risks and how small entrepreneurial companies can benefit from big companies thinking.


Success the LOVEFiLM Way is an essential read for anybody who wants to start and grow a successful business, and learn how to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing and growing industry.

“The LOVEFiLM story offers interesting insights into the way modern businesses, and particularly those backed by venture capital, succeed. There are useful lessons for anyone looking to start or grow a business using this route. Simon Calver explains both the challenges and opportunities that VC funding raises. Calver is right to describe this as the classic modern business story.”

Alex Mitchell, Head of Influencer Relations, IoD


“The LOVEFiLM story was a great read. It’s honest, insightful and very entertaining. It shows most importantly the power of leadership to create an exceptional company. Frankly, everyone in the UK needs to read this book right now.”

Julie Meyer, Managing Partner, ACE Fund


“I met Simon at the annual Real Business awards in 2009, and was delighted when he asked King of Shaves to become a founding member of The Consumer Forum – an association of SME’s that put the customer first. The success of LOVEFiLM, and his leadership of this disrupting business, was entirely down to his ‘putting customers first’ – by giving them what they wanted, when they wanted it, always embracing the latest in cutting edge technology. Firstly by sending the latest film releases through the post, and now by it streaming on demand. I’ve been lucky enough to spend personal quality time with him, and now you can learn how he helped LOVEFiLM grow so astonishingly, in a constantly changing digital environment. If you Lovefilm, and LoveCustomers, then you’ll Love this book!”

Will King, Founder, King of Shaves


“The LOVEFiLM story shows the importance of organizational agility, trust and the relentless focus of taking customers, stakeholders and employees with you on your journey. Above all it demonstrates the importance of understanding what you do and why you do it, and why it’s important to have a business model that delivers for the customer and the business.”

Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service


“It took Simon’s dedicated hard work bringing together a series of smaller businesses to make LOVEFiLM one of the true internet success stories. In Simon Calver’s book, he shares his business philosophies that led LOVEFiLM to the successful takeover by Amazon. The book is not just a compelling narrative, but lessons that all businesses and entrepreneurs can benefit from.”

Mark Florman, CEO, The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA)



Simon Calver was CEO of LOVEFiLM, the online DVD and Digital Entertainment company from 2005 to 2012 when it was sold to Amazon Inc.

He previously worked with Unilever in brand, marketing and key account roles and PepsiCo where he was Vice President in charge of the UK business launching Pepsi Max, Pepsi Blue and the development of the Pepsi Music activity. With PepsiCo he was also VP Sales Operations managing worldwide franchise partners and best practices selling and operational skills globally, specializing in developing and emerging markets.

After Pepsi he was GM and VP for Dell Home and Small business operations based in Ireland and also COO and President of Riverdeep Inc., the interactive digital education company where he led the turnaround after a management buyout.

In April 2012 he became Chief Executive of Mothercare plc the global mother and baby retailer.

He has led businesses in London, New York, Dublin, San Francisco and currently lives in West London with Cathy and their son Monty and their new arrival Nieve.


Introduction 1

Part One: Pre-Production 7

1. Open All Hours 9

2. Learning the Multinational Way 19

3. Becoming a Dell Boy 35

Part Two: The LOVEFiLM Years 51

4. 2003–4: Three Men and a Baby 53

Why success has many fathers but failure is an orphan

5. 2005: Towering Inferno 69

How to stop your business going up in smoke

6. 2006: Sleeping with the Enemy 83

How to keep your friends close and merge with your enemies

7. 2007: Braveheart 97

Bet big or go home

8. 2008: The Godfather 107

Kissing frogs and kicking tyres

9. 2009: Groundhog Day 119

Why there’s no substitute for hard graft

10. 2010: Sleepless in Seattle 131

How to make sure you get what you want from a deal

11. 2011: Jerry Maguire 143

How much work it takes before you see the money

12. The LOVEFiLM Years Post-Production 153

Part Three: Lessons from LOVEFiLM 159

13. The Role of Technology 161

14. The Role of Performance Management 167

15. The Role of Recruitment and Culture 175

16. How to Select and Manage Investors 185

17. The Closing Credits 193

77 Lessons and Learnings from Life and LOVEFiLM 197

About the Author 207

Acknowledgements 209

Index 211