Before YouTube became YouTube, the world was a different place. Netflix meant DVDs, video referred to the television and the internet meant simple texts and pictures. Everything changed in a mere 20 months when four former PayPal employees (Stan Chen, Chad Hurley and Karim) decided to find a creative solution to a problem they had been taxed with: that of no common platform for finding and sharing viral content.
The journey began with a possibly fictitious dinner party in San Francisco and ended with a breakfast at Denny’s in Redwood City, California. The digital world was transformed in the midst of maxed out credit cards, arguments over copyrights, humungous rats, a cameo by MC Hammer and the exit of a third, mysterious founder. When one of the most monumentous dinners of history was over, the world changed completely.
While it started off as a unique sharing platform, YouTube came with its own share of troubles and complications. From the beginning to now, YouTube has changed the way the world work. Every day, 800 million users visit YouTube, around 60 hours of videos are uploaded, about 500 tweets are tweeted with a YouTube link and over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month.
From just being just an idea at a dinner table, YouTube was first officially registered on Valentine’s Day in 2005. The founders officially launched the beta version in May the same year and from there, the rest was just history! Interestingly, while the name for YouTube may have been registered on Valentine’s Day in 2005, the work on creating one of the most iconic sites of all times started way before that.
In the beginning, it was quite hard to describe what YouTube really was. For a long time, the founders called it a dating site as back then, none really existed. Through the years, with more original content coming in than could be kept track of, the site became what it is today. Just when YouTube reached its peak, Karim exited. The premature exit of one of its founders left the other two in a fix.
It took a while for Hurley and Chen to come to terms with Karim’s departure, a task which came to them after explaining to the promoters the reason for his exit. Thanks to the right timing of the launch, however, the website took off with great numbers. The team steadily grew and when it was at its peak, Google approached the two remaining founders with a takeover proposition.
Julie Supan worked at Inktomi during the first dot-com crash, then moved to Minnesota to work at Best Buy. Mark Dempster, who was then at Sequoia, knew Supan. When she returned to Silicon Valley in 2005, he called her and suggested she run the marketing division in YouTube.
Supan joined in September 2005 and for many weeks, she and the two founders brainstormed in endless whiteboard sessions about what YouTube stood for. Eventually, they positioned YouTube as a broadcast medium for average people. A press release on 7 November in the same year from YouTube described it as “a consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience.”
That one statement was enough to change the public perception of this strange and unique website. While we take a moment to appreciate the fact that the first YouTube video was uploaded Today, it is but pertinent to take into account the amount of time, hard work and effort gone into building one of the largest and most widely used content sharing platform in the world!