We had a lot of our own ideas about how the service would evolve.
Coming from PayPal and eBay, we saw YouTube as a powerful way to add video to auctions,
but we didn’t see anyone using our product that way, so we didn’t add features to support it. Chad Hurley
In February 2005 a group of PayPal employees came up with the idea of establishing a video-sharing site with a simple system for users to upload videos.
Chad Hurley designed the PayPal logo. Roelof Botha, son of Pik Botha, was PayPal’s CFO. Steve Shih Chen, Taiwanese, and Jawed Karim, Bangladeshi, were PayPal engineers. They earned a bonus in 2002 when eBay bought out PayPal and this was the seedcorn for launching what would become YouTube.
They set out to develop Tune In Hook Up, a dating site that crashed and burned. They came up with the notion for YouTube over a dinner party. It was Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ or ‘Nipplegate’ during the 2004 SuperBowl and the images of the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day that highlighted that accessing videos on the Internet was not easy and this they resolved to change.
Hurley designed the site’s interface and logo, Chen and Karim the approach. Hurley became YouTube’s CEO and Chen its CTO, while Karim chose to continue his education and take more of a consultative role. The shareholdings reflected these levels of commitment.
Karim’s video ‘Me at the Zoo’, based on a trip to San Diego Zoo, was the first to be uploaded onto YouTube in April 2005.
The proliferation of camera-phones, webcams and digital cameras helped the site take off globally. Of course the really clever bit was that the users became the content providers.
November 2005 After $11.5m investment from Sequoia Capital the site went fully live. By mid-2006 60,000+ videos were uploaded each day and it achieved over 100 million daily viewings.
One feature that gave the site such appeal was that clips could be downloaded and embedded into other sites, blogs and social networking sites to give the video even more currency; though this could be blocked by the video uploader if requested.
Advertising was introduced in March 2006 and YouTube soon recorded $15m/month in revenues. Warner Music Group provided its full music video library to YouTube for free download in return for an advertising revenue share.
In November 2006 Google acquired YouTube for $1.65bn in stock. YouTube Mobile was launched in June 2007, enabling videos to be viewed on smartphones and tablets.
Various countries have reacted; China, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey have all blocked the site for periods.
2008 Companies, including CBS and MGM, started to upload full-length television programmes and films; this was to combat competition from other broadcasters.
By the middle of 2010 YouTube suggested that thirty-five hours of video was being uploaded every minute of the day and it was receiving two billion viewings a day. However after Google’s acquisition it was decided not to separately define YouTube accounts within the annual report.
In 2011 YouTube was available in around thirty languages and could be viewed on a worldwide basis or in one of twenty-four local versions; it was left to the IP owner to decide which markets and versions are permitted.