Updated: I was still working at Forbes.com when Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix (s NFLX) started shipping DVDs via the U.S. Postal Service. Later, when I moved to San Francisco for the first time, like Webvan, it became an indispensable service, for there was little time for me to visit Blockbuster. In the (approximately) 10 years that have passed, I moved back to New York, moved back to San Francisco, changed jobs twice and started my own company. Blockbuster (s BBI) is on the ropes.
Netflix, with the exception of recent foray into digital streaming to various different devices, has been still delivering entertainment, one DVD at a time. Today, the company announced that it has shipped 2 billion DVDs since it shipped its first DVD on Sept. 23, 1999. Using a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation, that works out to an average of 605,326 DVDs a day or about 25,221 DVDs an hour, 420 DVDs a minute or 7 DVDs every second. Actually these days, daily shipments are much higher — close to 2 million. Netflix has more than 10 million subscribers who get DVDs from 58 distribution centers spread across the United States. Bonus link: Evolution of the Netflix envelope.
Update (from Stacey): Extra bonus link for our broadband-loving readers. Ryan McIntyre of The Foundry Group on Netflix making the right call in the early years by betting against the current telecommunications infrastructure, and focusing on mailing DVDs rather than offering downloads.