History of YouTube

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YouTube logo YouTube Logo 2017.svg
YouTube logo

YouTube was created by three PayPal employees as a video-sharing website where users could upload, share and view content. [1] The Internet domain name "www.youtube.com" was activated on Monday, February 14, 2005, at 9:13:12 p.m. [2]


Founding (2005)

From left to right: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. Youtube founders.jpg
From left to right: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim.

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, when they worked for PayPal. [3] Prior to working for PayPal, Hurley studied design at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. [4] YouTube's initial headquarters was above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California. [5]

Approximate representation of the site as it appeared a few months after its launch (archived by the Wayback Machine). YouTube screenshot 2005.png
Approximate representation of the site as it appeared a few months after its launch (archived by the Wayback Machine).

The domain name "YouTube.com" was activated on February 14, 2005 with video upload options being integrated on April 23, 2005. The first YouTube video, titled Me at the zoo, was uploaded on April 23, 2005, and shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. [7] [8]

YouTube began as an angel-funded enterprise working from a makeshift office in a garage. In November 2005, venture firm Sequoia Capital invested an initial $3.5 million, [9] and Roelof Botha (a partner of the firm and former CFO of PayPal) joined the YouTube board of directors. In April 2006, Sequoia and Artis Capital Management invested an additional $8 million in the company, which had experienced significant growth in its first few months. [10]

Growth (2006)

Timeline of events
2005July – Video HTML embedding
July – Top videos page
August – 5-star rating system
October – Playlists
October – Full-screen view
October – Subscriptions
2006January – Groups function
February – Personalized profiles
March – 10-minute video limit
April – Directors function
May – Video responses
May – Cell phone uploading
June – Further personalized profiles
June – Viewing history
2007June – Local language versions
2008March – 480p videos
March – Video analytics tool
December – Audioswap
2009January – Google Videos uploading halted
July – 720p videos
November – 1080p videos
December – Automatic speech recognition
December – Vevo launch
2010March – "Thumbs" rating system
July – 4K video
2011November – YouTube Analytics
November – Feature film rental
2012June – Merger with Google Video
2014October – 60 fps videos
2015March – 360° videos
November – YouTube Red launches
2016February – YouTube subscription service
2019October - Two ads appear

During the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest growing sites on the World Wide Web, [11] hosting more than 65,000 new video uploads. The site delivered an average of 100 million video views per day in July. [12] It was ranked the fifth-most-popular website on Alexa, far out-pacing even MySpace's rate of growth. [13] The website averaged nearly 20 million visitors per month according to Nielsen/NetRatings, [12] with around 44% female and 56% male visitors. The 12- to 17-year-old age group was dominant. [14] YouTube's pre-eminence in the online market was substantial. According to the website Hitwise.com, YouTube commanded up to 64% of the UK online video market. [15]

YouTube entered into a marketing and advertising partnership with NBC in June 2006. [16]

Purchase by Google (2006)

On October 9, 2006, it was announced that the company would be purchased by Google for US$1.65 billion in stock, which was completed on November 13. At that time it was Google's second-largest acquisition. [17] The agreement between Google and YouTube came after YouTube presented three agreements with media companies in an attempt to avoid copyright-infringement lawsuits. YouTube planned to continue operating independently, with its co-founders and 68 employees working within Google. [18]

Google's February 7, 2007 SEC filing revealed the breakdown of profits for YouTube's investors after the sale to Google. In 2010, Chad Hurley's profit was more than $395 million while Steve Chen's profit was more than $326 million. [19]

Person of the year (2006)

In 2006, Time Magazine featured a YouTube screen with a large mirror as its annual 'Person of the Year'. It cited user-created media such as that posted on YouTube and featured the site's originators along with several content creators. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times also reviewed posted content on YouTube in 2006, with particular regard to its effects on corporate communications and recruitment. PC World Magazine named YouTube the ninth of its Top 10 Best Products of 2006. [20] In 2007, both Sports Illustrated and Dime Magazine featured positive reviews of a basketball highlight video titled, The Ultimate Pistol Pete Maravich MIX. [21]

Continued growth (2007–present)

YouTube's current headquarters in San Bruno, California (2010 to present) 901 Cherry Avenue.jpg
YouTube's current headquarters in San Bruno, California (2010 to present)

It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000. [22]

Originating in 2007, the YouTube Awards are annual awards given out in recognition of the best YouTube videos of the preceding year as voted by the YouTube community. [23]

On July 23, 2007 and November 28, 2007, CNN and YouTube produced televised presidential debates in which Democratic and Republican US presidential hopefuls fielded questions submitted through YouTube. [24] [25]

In November 2008, YouTube reached an agreement with MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and CBS, allowing the companies to post full-length films and television episodes on the site, accompanied by advertisements in a section for US viewers called "Shows". The move was intended to create competition with websites such as Hulu, which features material from NBC, Fox, and Disney. [26] [27]

YouTube was awarded a 2008 Peabody Award and cited as being "a 'Speakers' Corner' that both embodies and promotes democracy". [28] [29]

In early 2009, YouTube registered the domain www.youtube-nocookie.com for videos embedded on United States federal government websites. [30] [31] In November of the same year, YouTube launched a version of "Shows" available to UK viewers, offering around 4,000 full-length shows from more than 60 partners. [32]

Entertainment Weekly placed YouTube on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list In December 2009, describing it as: "Providing a safe home for piano-playing cats, celeb goof-ups, and overzealous lip-synchers since 2005." [33]

In January 2010, [34] YouTube introduced an online film rentals service which is currently available only to users in the US, Canada and the UK. [35] [36] The service offers over 6,000 films. [37] In March 2010 YouTube began free streaming of certain content, including 60 cricket matches of the Indian Premier League. According to YouTube, this was the first worldwide free online broadcast of a major sporting event. [38]

On March 31, 2010, YouTube launched a new design with the aim of simplifying the interface and increasing the time users spend on the site. Google product manager Shiva Rajaraman commented: "We really felt like we needed to step back and remove the clutter." [39] In May 2010, it was reported that YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day, which was "nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined". [40] In May 2011, YouTube reported on the company blog that the site was receiving more than three billion views per day. [41] In January 2012, YouTube stated that the figure had increased to four billion videos streamed per day. [42]

According to May 2010 data published by market research company comScore, YouTube was the dominant provider of online video in the United States, with a market share of roughly 43 percent and more than 14 billion videos viewed during May. [43]

In October 2010, Hurley announced that he would be stepping down as the chief executive officer of YouTube to take an advisory role, with Salar Kamangar taking over as the head of the company. [44]

James Zern, a YouTube software engineer, revealed in April 2011 that 30 percent of videos accounted for 99 percent of views on the site. [45]

During November 2011, the Google+ social networking site was integrated directly with YouTube and the Chrome web browser, allowing YouTube videos to be viewed from within the Google+ interface. [46] In December 2011, YouTube launched a new version of the site interface, with the video channels displayed in a central column on the home page, similar to the news feeds of social networking sites. [47] At the same time, a new version of the YouTube logo was introduced with a darker shade of red, which was the first change in design since October 2006. [48]

In 2012, YouTube said that roughly 60 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, and that around three-quarters of the material comes from outside the U.S. [41] [42] [49] The site has eight hundred million unique users a month. [50]

Starting from 2010 and continuing to the present, Alexa ranked YouTube as the third most visited website on the Internet after Google and Facebook. [51]

In late 2011 and early 2012, YouTube launched over 100 "premium" or "original" channels. It was reported the initiative cost $100 million. [52] Two years later, in November 2013, it was documented that the landing page of the original channels became a 404 error page. [53] [54] Despite this, original channels such as SourceFed and Crash Course were able to become successful. [55] [56]

An algorithm change was made in 2012 that replaced the view-based system for a watch time-based one that is credited for causing a surge in the popularity of gaming channels. [57]

In October 2012, for the first-time ever, YouTube offered a live stream of the U.S. presidential debate and partnered with ABC News to do so. [58]

On October 25, 2012, The YouTube slogan (Broadcast Yourself) was taken down due to the live stream of the U.S. presidential debate.

YouTube relaunched its design and layout on December 4, 2012 to be very similar to the mobile and tablet app version of the site. On December 21, 2012, Gangnam Style became the first YouTube video to surpass one billion views. [59]

In March 2013, the number of unique users visiting YouTube every month reached 1 billion. [60] In the same year, YouTube continued to reach out to mainstream media, launching YouTube Comedy Week and the YouTube Music Awards. [61] [62] Both events were met with negative to mixed reception. [63] [64] [65] [66] In November 2013, YouTube's own YouTube channel had surpassed Felix Kjellberg's PewDiePie channel to become the most subscribed channel on the website. This was due to auto-suggesting new users to subscribe to the channel upon registration. [67]

On April 3, 2018, a shooting took place at YouTube headquarters. [68]


On June 19, 2007, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was in Paris to launch the new localization system. [69] The interface of the website is available with localized versions in 89 countries, one territory (Hong Kong) and a worldwide version. [70]

Countries with YouTube Localization
YouTube Localisation.svg
CountryLanguage(s)Launch dateNotes
Flag of the United States.svg  USA (and worldwide launch) English February 15, 2005 [69] First location
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Portuguese June 19, 2007 [69] First international location
Flag of France.svg  France French, and Basque June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland English June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Italian June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Japanese June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Dutch June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland Polish June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Spanish, Galician, Catalan, and Basque June 19, 2007 [69]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom English June 19, 2007 [69] Expansion continues
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Spanish October 11, 2007 [71]
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong Chinese, and English October 17, 2007 [72] Blocked in China
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan Chinese October 18, 2007 [73]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia English October 22, 2007 [74]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand English October 22, 2007 [74]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada French, and English November 6, 2007 [75]
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany German November 8, 2007 [76]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia Russian November 13, 2007 [77]
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea Korean January 23, 2008 [78] First launch in 2008
Flag of India.svg  India Hindi, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu May 7, 2008 [79]
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel Hebrew September 16, 2008First Middle East location
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic Czech October 9, 2008 [80]
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden Swedish October 22, 2008 [81] Location never launched in 2009
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Afrikaans, Zulu, and English May 17, 2010 [69] First African location
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Spanish September 8, 2010 [82]
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria French, and Arabic March 9, 2011 [83] One of the first Arab World locations
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco French, and Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia French, and Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen Arabic March 9, 2011 [83]
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya Swahili, and English September 1, 2011 [84]
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines Filipino, and English October 13, 2011 [85]
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil October 20, 2011 [86]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium French, Dutch, and German November 16, 2011 [69] Middle location
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia Spanish November 30, 2011 [87]
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda English December 2, 2011 [88] Needs a Swahili edition for the country
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria English December 7, 2011 [89]
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile Spanish January 20, 2012 [90] First location in 2012
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary Hungarian February 29, 2012 [91]
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia Malay, and English March 22, 2012 [92]
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru Spanish March 25, 2012 [93]
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates Arabic, and English April 1, 2012 [94]
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Greek May 1, 2012
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia Indonesian, and English May 17, 2012 [95]
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana English June 5, 2012 [96]
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal French, and English July 4, 2012 [97]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Turkish October 1, 2012 [98]
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine Ukrainian December 13, 2012 [99]
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Danish February 1, 2013 [100]
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Finnish, and Swedish February 1, 2013 [101]
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Norwegian February 1, 2013 [102]
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland German, French, and Italian March 29, 2013 [103]
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria German March 29, 2013 [104] Long-waited launch
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Romanian April 18, 2013 [105]
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Portuguese April 25, 2013 [106] Long-waited launch
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia Slovak April 25, 2013 [107]
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain Arabic August 16, 2013 [108] Multiple Middle East locations launched
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait Arabic August 16, 2013 [108]
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman Arabic August 16, 2013 [108]
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar Arabic August 16, 2013 [108]
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian March 17, 2014
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria Bulgarian March 17, 2014 [109]
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia Croatian March 17, 2014 [110]
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia Estonian March 17, 2014 [111]
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia Latvian March 17, 2014 [112]
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania Lithuanian March 17, 2014Baltic area fully locally accessible
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  Macedonia Macedonian, Serbian, and Turkish March 17, 2014
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro Serbian, and Croatian March 17, 2014
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia Serbian March 17, 2014
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia Slovenian March 17, 2014 [113]
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand Thai April 1, 2014 [114]
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon Arabic May 1, 2014 [108]
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico Spanish, and English August 23, 2014Use Spain version or USA version before launch.
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland Icelandic ?, 2014
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg French, and German ?, 2014
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam Vietnamese October 1, 2014First contemporary communist location
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya Arabic February 1, 2015Blocked in 2010, but unblocked in 2011.
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania Swahili, and English June 2, 2015
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe English June 2, 2015
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan Azerbaijani October 12, 2015 [115]
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus Russian October 12, 2015 [115]
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia Georgian October 12, 2015 [115]
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan Kazakh October 12, 2015 [115]
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq Arabic November 9, 2015[ citation needed ]
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal Nepali January 12, 2016 [116]
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Urdu, and English January 12, 2016 [117] Blocked in 2012 but unblocked in 2015
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka Sinhala, and Tamil January 12, 2016 [118]
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica English August 4, 2016[ citation needed ]
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta English June 24, 2018
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Honduras.svg  Honduras Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay Spanish January 30, 2019
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay Spanish and Guarani February 21, 2019
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic Spanish February 21, 2019
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus Greek and Turkish March 13, 2019
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein German March 13, 2019

Google aims to compete with local video-sharing websites like Dailymotion in France. It also made an agreement with local television stations like M6 and France Télévisions to legally broadcast video content.[ citation needed ]

On October 17, 2007, it was announced that a Hong Kong version had been launched. YouTube's Steve Chen said its next target will be Taiwan. [119] [120]

YouTube was blocked from Mainland China from October 18 due to the censorship of the Taiwanese flag. [121] URLs to YouTube were redirected to China's own search engine, Baidu. It was subsequently unblocked on October 31. [122]

The YouTube interface suggests which local version should be chosen on the basis of the IP address of the user. In some cases, the message "This video is not available in your country" may appear because of copyright restrictions or inappropriate content. [123] The interface of the YouTube website is available in 76 language versions, including Amharic, Albanian, Armenian, Bengali, Burmese, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Laotian, Mongolian, Persian and Uzbek, which do not have local channel versions. [124] Access to YouTube was blocked in Turkey between 2008 and 2010, following controversy over the posting of videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and some material offensive to Muslims. [125] [126] In October 2012, a local version of YouTube was launched in Turkey, with the domain youtube.com.tr. The local version is subject to the content regulations found in Turkish law. [127] In March 2009, a dispute between YouTube and the British royalty collection agency PRS for Music led to premium music videos being blocked for YouTube users in the United Kingdom. The removal of videos posted by the major record companies occurred after failure to reach agreement on a licensing deal. The dispute was resolved in September 2009. [128] In April 2009, a similar dispute led to the removal of premium music videos for users in Germany. [129]

Business model, advertising, and profits

YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno from 2006 to 2010 Youtubeheadquarterssanbruno.jpg
YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno from 2006 to 2010
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo Youtubeheadquarters.jpg
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo

Before being purchased by Google, YouTube declared that its business model was advertisement-based, making 15 million dollars per month.

Google did not provide detailed figures for YouTube's running costs, and YouTube's revenues in 2007 were noted as "not material" in a regulatory filing. [130] In June 2008, a Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at $200 million, noting progress in advertising sales. [131]

Some industry commentators have speculated that YouTube's running costs (specifically the network bandwidth required) might be as high as 5 to 6 million dollars per month, [132] thereby fuelling criticisms that the company, like many Internet startups, did not have a viably implemented business model. Advertisements were launched on the site beginning in March 2006. In April, YouTube started using Google AdSense. [133] YouTube subsequently stopped using AdSense but has resumed in local regions.

Advertising is YouTube's central mechanism for gaining revenue. This issue has also been taken up in scientific analysis. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams argue in their book Wikinomics that YouTube is an example for an economy that is based on mass collaboration and makes use of the Internet.

"Whether your business is closer to Boeing or P&G, or more like YouTube or flickr, there are vast pools of external talent that you can tap with the right approach. Companies that adopt these models can drive important changes in their industries and rewrite the rules of competition" [134] :270 "new business models for open content will not come from traditional media establishments, but from companies such as Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. This new generation of companies is not burned by the legacies that inhibit the publishing incumbents, so they can be much more agile in responding to customer demands. More important, they understand that you don't need to control the quantity and destiny of bits if they can provide compelling venues in which people build communities around sharing and remixing content. Free content is just the lure on which they layer revenue from advertising and premium services". [134] :271sq

Tapscott and Williams argue that it is important for new media companies to find ways to make a profit with the help of peer-produced content. The new Internet economy, (that they term Wikinomics) would be based on the principles of "openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally". Companies could make use of these principles in order to gain profit with the help of Web 2.0 applications: "Companies can design and assemble products with their customers, and in some cases customers can do the majority of the value creation". [134] :289sq Tapscott and Williams argue that the outcome will be an economic democracy.

There are other views in the debate that agree with Tapscott and Williams that it is increasingly based on harnessing open source/content, networking, sharing, and peering, but they argue that the result is not an economic democracy, but a subtle form and deepening of exploitation, in which labour costs are reduced by Internet-based global outsourcing.

The second view is e.g. taken by Christian Fuchs in his book "Internet and Society". He argues that YouTube is an example of a business model that is based on combining the gift with the commodity. The first is free, the second yields profit. The novel aspect of this business strategy is that it combines what seems at first to be different, the gift and the commodity. YouTube would give free access to its users, the more users, the more profit it can potentially make because it can in principle increase advertisement rates and will gain further interest of advertisers. [135] YouTube would sell its audience that it gains by free access to its advertising customers. [135] :181

"Commodified Internet spaces are always profit-oriented, but the goods they provide are not necessarily exchange-value and market-oriented; in some cases (such as Google, Yahoo, MySpace, YouTube, Netscape), free goods or platforms are provided as gifts in order to drive up the number of users so that high advertisement rates can be charged in order to achieve profit." [135] :181

In June 2009, BusinessWeek reported that, according to San Francisco-based IT consulting company RampRate, YouTube was far closer to profitability than previous reports, including the April 2009, projection by investment bank Credit Suisse estimating YouTube would lose as much as $470 million in 2009. [136] RampRate's report pegged that number at no more than $174 million. [137]

In May 2013, YouTube launched a pilot program to begin offering some content providers the ability to charge $0.99 per month or more for certain channels, but the vast majority of its videos would remain free to view. [138] [139]

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