On February 14th, 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, three former Paypal employees got together and launched the video sharing website, YouTube. A year and a half later, the instantly successful website was sold to Google for US$1.65 billion dollars. That means that each of the three entrepreneurs, if split evenly, walked away with over $500 million dollars each. Not bad for a year and a half’s work.
Since 2006, YouTube has been operated as a subsidiary of Google, and has gone on to shape the online landscape. The site has captured our collective attention. There were more than one trillion playbacks last year – that’s twice the number of stars in the Milky Way. It is the second most popular website on earth, with over 790 million monthly users. We spend over 2.9 billion hours watching YouTube videos every month, and according to YouTube’s FAQ, 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute. There is nearly 8 years of content being uploaded every day.
While the site has music, entertainment, news and information from every sphere and is now represented in 52 languages, most of the videos however are viral time sinks. Charlie Bit My Finger has generated over 300 million all-time views, and the infamous Rebecca Black video was the number one video of 2011.
As Entertainment weekly put it, YouTube provides “a safe home for piano-playing cats, celeb goof-ups, and overzealous lip-synchers”, and probably will for a long time to come. The story of YouTube is just another example of the power of a great idea brought to life.