Netflix and Airbnb’s Chargeback Success: Lessons for Us All


What do Netflix and Airbnb have in common, besides being household names? They share a strategic secret: leveraging FinOps chargeback to optimize their cloud costs. This practice, rooted in Financial Operations (FinOps), has propelled these enterprises to unparalleled efficiency in managing their cloud expenses.


Netflix meticulously categorizes its AWS billing using cost allocation tags, covering services from EC2 to S3, and allocates them to various platforms based on AWS tags. According to Netflix, this approach serves as the source of truth for cost tracking and translates into substantial savings. NovelVista reports that with chargeback practices at its core, Netflix has managed to save millions of dollars.


Similarly, Airbnb has its own success story with a chargeback-focused FinOps narrative, slashing its AWS costs by a staggering 60% according to NovelVista. Managing its cloud resources across multiple cloud providers, Airbnb describes how it leverages tagging for resource groups, cost allocation, and automated resource provisioning based on tags.


While Netflix and Airbnb showcase the power of chargeback in FinOps at scale, the broader industry landscape reveals a significant gap in adoption and realization of its benefits. As recently as April 15, 2024, Tech Community reports that cost allocation continues to be an imperative for cloud resource optimization, yet only 21% of organizations are achieving the desired 90% allocation target, as highlighted by the FinOps Foundation.


Studies by McKinsey and Data Dynamics underscore the immense potential of FinOps chargeback in driving cost optimization. McKinsey suggests that companies can reduce cloud spend by as much as 30-40% with effective cloud cost management practices like showback and chargeback. Similarly, Data Dynamics reports that organizations implementing chargeback/showback with FinOps can reduce wasted cloud spend by 25% or more.


Despite these compelling insights, adoption of chargeback practices remains modest, with only 48% of organizations using chargeback as their way to report cloud costs, according to the FinOps Foundation, indicating a significant opportunity for improvement and optimization.


Additionally, the rise of cloud repatriation, as reported by Forbes, highlights the importance of cost control in cloud deployments. Many organizations are drawn to repatriation driven by cost concerns, seeking greater predictability and control over infrastructure expenses. However, costly repatriation can be avoided through the implementation of effective FinOps practices that empower organizations to optimize cloud costs while retaining the benefits of cloud scalability and flexibility.


In the face of these challenges CloudSaver offers an advanced cloud management platform with FinOps chargeback solutions, alongside risk management, compliance, assessments, and optimization. Unlike Netflix and Airbnb, which invested heavily in developing chargeback capabilities, CloudSaver provides a ready-made solution. Combining financial acumen with cloud expertise, CloudSaver delivers a holistic approach to cloud management. Their proven FinOps solution features chargeback, AI forecasting, invoice management, and budgeting, efficiently identifying current and future costs.


In conclusion, the success stories of Netflix and Airbnb underscore the transformative power of FinOps chargeback in cloud cost management. However, broader industry trends reveal a gap in adoption and realization of its benefits. By embracing chargeback practices and leveraging FinOps principles, organizations can unlock significant cost savings, optimize cloud spending, and effectively manage their cloud resources, positioning themselves for long-term success in the digital age.

About the Author


Frank YorkFrank York
Senior Content Writer, CloudSaver