Today, YouTube is one of the largest social media platforms out there, with 2.6 billion active users. It’s also the second-largest search engine in the world, right after Google. And the single largest video platform on the planet.
But how did it start? When did YouTube come out and take off? And who actually founded it?
Here’s the full historical run-down.
When did YouTube come out?
Technically, YouTube launched on 14 February 2005. Parts of its features then became available to the public in May. It wasn’t until November, though, that the full platform was launched publicly.
It started out slow – the first video, showing one of its founders at the zoo, was only uploaded on April 23.
The very first video on YouTube – uploaded by co-founder Jawed Karim.
Part of the reason for these initial difficulties was that there was actually plenty of competition in the online video sphere. Now-forgotten players included Google Video, ShareYourWorld, Revver, and Realplayer.
YouTube’s big advantage was that it provided a much less complicated user experience than its competitors. Unlike some of them, it was also free.
When YouTube launched officially in November 2005, things quickly started picking up speed. The same month, the platform’s founders also secured $11.5 million in funding to help their project take off.
By 2006, YouTube gained serious traction. It could boast over 100 million views per day, and 65,000 new uploads.
Scenting opportunity, Google swooped in and acquired the company for $1.65 billion the same year.
Who founded YouTube?
YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, three friends who ran into a common problem: How to share videos on the internet?
After a dinner party at Chen’s apartment, they found it a breeze to share the photos they’d taken. Photo-sharing sites like Flickr made sure of that.
But the videos of their evening together? Much more difficult – and expensive.
Together, they set out to create a better alternative. They had all the skills to get the job done, having worked at PayPal previously and holding degrees in software engineering.
When did YouTube introduce monetization?
After Google acquired YouTube in 2006, it introduced ads that played before videos in 2007. The same year, it launched its Partner Program, allowing video creators to pocket a share of the ad revenue.
Over the next few years, YouTube continuously rolled out features that users now take for granted. Video annotations were introduced in 2008, live broadcasting in 2012.
It was also in 2012 that YouTube passed a major milestone. For the first time, a video surpassed 1 billion views. That viral sensation? Oppan Gangnam style!
4 billion views and counting.
That is not to say that all of YouTube’s new features took off. Few people, for example, will remember the integration with the failed Google+ social network, which allowed users to post video directly to YouTube.
Despite minor missteps, though, YouTube continues to thrive. With its ever-growing set of creator monetization features, it’s part of the bedrock of the creator economy.
The Bottom Line
The rest, as they say, is history. In 2023 and beyond, YouTube remains one of the biggest players in the social media sphere, successfully countering rivals like short-form app TikTok.
What the future holds is wide open – speculations range from AI video integrations to eCommerce initiatives. Join the fray!
YouTube launched in 2005, on the 14th of February.
YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, former PayPal developers.
YouTube introduced pre-roll ads in 2007. The same year it launched its Partner Program, which allows users to earn a share of the revenue of these ads.
The first YouTuber was co-developer Jawed Karim, who uploaded a video of himself at a zoo.
YouTube was developed and launched in 2005. The beta opened in May, while the public launch happened in November 2005.
The first video on the platform is “me at the zoo”, and is a 20-second clip of Jawed Karim at San Diego Zoo.
The first YouTuber to hit a million views with a video did so by uploading a Nike ad featuring soccer player Ronaldinho.
YouTube took off almost immediately. In July 2006, just a few months after the public launch, YouTube was already serving over 100 million video views a day.