Yesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of Google’s acquisition of YouTube, and needless to say much has changed since the search engine giant took over what has now become the most popular video sharing website in the world. Today we’re taking a brief look at YouTube’s history over the past decade, starting with the very beginnings.
YouTube was founded in the year 2005 by former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, and the domain was registered on February 15th. Interestingly enough, YouTube was initially designed as a video dating website but the concept didn’t pay off and eventually YouTube widened its perspective to accommodate any type of videos and user-generated content. The first YouTube video (below) was uploaded on April 23, 2005 with the title “Me at the Zoo”, and originated from Jawed Karim himself. Today the video has over 33 million views despite the fact that it is only 18 seconds long. YouTube opened to the public in beta stages one month later in May 2005, and the platform was officially launched to the public in December 2005. YouTube continue to grow in popularity in the following months and by the summer of 2006, roughly 20 million users had more than 100 million videos to browse through. That same year, on October 9, Google officially set the foundation of its collaboration with YouTube, with then-Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, stating that “The YouTube team has built an exciting and powerful media platform that complements Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Fast forward until May 2007, and YouTube starts to shape up as the video content provider we know today. At that particular time the platform launched its Partner program allowing popular video content providers (YouTubers) to earn money, and in late 2007, Google unveiled its new ads strategy and how ads will be served in YouTube videos. Three years later in 2010, YouTube began offering movie rental services. The platform had only five movies on offer from indie filmmakers, and while it later expanded to accommodate more content, unfortunately, it was never really able to compete with rival platforms such as Netflix. In 2010 still, YouTube livestreamed the Indian Premier League for free, marking the first major sporting event to be streamed worldwide – according to Google. Fast forward to the year 2015, in February last year YouTube Kids was launched to accommodate family-friendly videos, and later in the year YouTube Gaming and YouTube Music have been launched as well. YouTube also released a paid monthly service in October 2015 called YouTube Red, allowing users to pay $10 a month in order to disable ads and gain access to offline content as well as Google Play Music. Today, YouTube is one of the biggest websites in the world but the journey is ongoing. Google now aims to target the “next billion” Internet users and last week, the company took the veil off a new standalone YouTube application designed specifically for the Indian market. All in all, YouTube is one of the biggest Internet platforms and ad delivery services of our time but there’s no way of knowing where YouTube will be heading in the coming years. The recent YouTube Heroes program which allows volunteers to moderate content has raised a lot of concerns from veteran YouTubers, and ultimately, YouTube isn’t actually a profitable business for Google and until this changes, it’s likely that YouTube will continue to change as well; hopefully for the better.