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The history of YouTube

YouTube was, and is, a really interesting idea.

Image credit: NBC

Providing a platform where millions of users can upload and watch videos of every imaginable description has proven to be one of the most dynamic innovations in the history of the internet.

7 billion hours of YouTube content are watched every month.

With over 1 billion unique users, (nearly 1/2 of all internet users worldwide) and 7 billion hours of content viewed every month, this internet platform has changed the face of the world wide web entirely in barely over a decade.

paypal logo

And it all started at PayPal…

The history of YouTube


In 2005, three PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, decided it was time for them to branch out.
Their original concept was a dating website called “Tune In, Hook Up”, which allowed users to post videos of themselves for others to view and decide whether or not to “hook up” with them. Sadly, no one was willing to make use of the service and the concept failed.

Fortunately, the platform’s video uploading and posting technology was sound, and when the group had a discussion about how hard it was to find a video online of Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, during the 2004 Superbowl Halftime show, a concept began to form in their collective hormone-soaked brains.


Yes, like so many other internet innovations, the genesis of YouTube came from a nerd’s desire to look at boobies.

Realising that a user-friendly video-sharing platform did not currently exist, the team sprung into action, and on February 14th 2005, the name of “Tune In Hook Up” was changed to “YouTube”. An internet phenomenon was born.

On April 23rd 2005, the first ever publicly viewable YouTube video was posted. It was an 18 second clip of YouTube founder Jawed Karim standing in front of elephants at the zoo; it was appropriately entitled “Me at the zoo”.

Me at the Zoo

***Note, “Me at the zoo” is still up and searchable on YouTube. The video now has over 30,000,000 views and 450,000 likes***

Five months later, in September 2005, a Nike promo video of Brazilian football star, Ronaldinho showing of his ball juggling skills became the first YouTube video to be viewed a million times.
From there, YouTube exploded and the finances began rolling in.

In October 2006, the Google corporation threw its massive internet influence behind the burgeoning website and purchased YouTube for 1.65 billion dollars. Google dubbed the purchase “The next step in the evolution of the internet”.

In 2007, in a well thought out effort to drum up more and higher quality content, YouTube launched its “YouTube Partner Program”. This gave content providers the opportunity to attain YouTube fame. That same year, Google decided to add advertising to its content.

Youtube Advertising

Although many were annoyed by this change, Google’s decision to share the revenues generated through advertising with its content providers opened up new streams of high quality, original content, which helped it retain its audience. Over the following years, YouTube’s audience continued to grow at massive rates with the trend has continuing to this day.

Moving forward, YouTube and Google believe that the platform will continue to reinvent the way people watch video.

desktop and youtube

For a generation of young people, YouTube has become the primary way in which they use video media, causing traditional cable TV providers to develop and implement their own “Video on Demand” services, lest they be left in the dust.

The marketing possibilities for this medium are myriad. It looks to match up, in terms of marketing volume, to other internet marketing platforms such as email marketing and traditional social media sites.

As for what comes next for YouTube, your guess is as good as ours…

Trevor Beers, Senior Language Technician, Phrasee

Phrasee pheatures: Trevor Beers

Our very own Senior Language Technician, Trevor Beers, shares advice for those looking to join the tech industry, and insights into life at Phrasee.

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