Looking Back on the History of YouTube

Every month, digital consumers watch billions of hours of videos on YouTube. YouTube is far more than just cute kitten videos. Chefs use it to show off their recipes. Home improvement stores use it to give DIY instructions. And car enthusiasts use it to demonstrate their latest upgrades. From movie trailers to diaper commercials, if it’s captured on video, it probably has a home at YouTube. But how did this digital behemoth get its start?

Formation of YouTube

In 2005, three PayPal employees got together to chat about starting a new website together. Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim originally decided to start a dating website called “Tune In, Hook Up” that allowed users to upload videos of themselves. The website flopped, but the technology worked. So the three got together again to talk about how hard it was for them to find a video online of Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Superbowl Halftime show. The trio decided to create a video-sharing platform, and on Valentine’s Day in 2005, YouTube was officially born.

Early Beginnings of YouTube

The first video ever uploaded and publicly viewable on YouTube was entitled “Me at the zoo.” As the title suggests, it’s a clip of co-founder Jawed Karim at the zoo. He’s standing in front of the elephants, talking about their trunks for 18 seconds. The concept quickly took off. Just five months later, a video reached the one-million view threshold. It was a Nike promo that showed a Brazilian football star juggling.

Growth of YouTube

From that point on, YouTube quickly grew into a major moneymaker. It was purchased by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion. That’s “billion” with a “B.” In less than two years, YouTube had become a billion-dollar property. It didn’t take Google long to add advertising, which had the effect of improving content and increasing viewer statistics exponentially.

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