The History of YouTube

Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in the 2004 Super Bowl inspired many things, but one of the more unlikely developments was the origin of Youtube. Co-founder Jawed Karim says the initial idea for Youtube sprang from his frustration at being unable to find videos of the event (as well as the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean) online. Fellow co-founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley had been doing research on founding a video dating site when Karim approached them with his idea. From this unlikely stew of influences the world’s largest video site would be born.

Youtube got underway in early 2005 with a $11.5 million venture capital investment from Sequoia Capital. Only a year later the site would have tens of thousands of video uploads and hundreds of millions of views per day. By 2007 Youtube was consuming about as much bandwidth as the rest of the internet combined.

In November of 2006, Google purchased Youtube for the sum of $1.6 billion. It was a surprising outlay of cash for a site that only generated $15 million in revenue that year. Google had a long-term vision for the site, however. By 2008, annual revenue had grown to $200 million. By 2011 it was generating over $1 billion. Youtube’s projected revenue for 2013 is $3.7 billion.

Many celebrities have Youtube to thank for launching their careers. Justin Bieber’s video “Baby” has been viewed on Youtube over 900 million times alone, and his combined video views exceed 4 billion. In 2012 Psy would shatter the individual record with his “Gangnam Style” video, which currently has twice as many views as Bieber’s “Baby” at 1.8 billion. Many other musicians and celebrities have individual videos on Youtube with views well into the hundreds of millions and channels that have received billions of visits.

In less than one decade Youtube has gone from a tiny startup in an office over a pizza shop in San Mateo to more than 1 billion visitors per month and over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. Youtube’s views and profits have consistently grown since the site’s inception and show no signs of slowing down any time in the near future.

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