Happy birthday YouTube
Most five year olds would be described as a child. However, YouTube has rapidly grown and developed in to a mature tool for change. Change?
It has changed ordinary individuals in to stars, granting them their Warhol fifteen minutes of fame. It has changed advertising, introducing us to viral marketing. It has changed broadcasting, allowing any of us to set up our own YouTube ‘channel’. For a visual medium, it has also changed music.
Famously it has changed the way we communicate, in one well-publicised case – how we complain. David Carroll, a Canadian musician travelled with United Airlines and during the journey his guitar was broken. Receiving little in the way of an apology, let alone compensation, he decided to compose a song about his trials and tribulations, and post it on YouTube. The result? The share price took a dive and £117m ($180m) was wiped off their value. Click on the link in the bottom right of this page to watch Dave Carroll.
The first video was uploaded on to the internet at 8.27pm on Saturday 23 April 2005 and lasted just 19 seconds. Now, in the two months more video is uploaded to YouTube than if all the major US broadcasters had been broadcasting 24hrs a day, 365 days a week, since 1948. It is the third most visited website in the world, (after Google and Facebook). We were slow to discover it in the UK. The first mention of You Tube in the British press was in November 2005. That month, shortly before YouTube was boosted for the first time by investment from a venture-capitalist, the site showed 2m videos a day. Two months later, it broadcast 25m. Today it is well over 1bn.
The three founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim saw a handsome return on their investment when Google bought YouTube in a deal worth US$1.65bn in October 2006 – just sixteen months after the first video was uploaded. The most popular videos have been watched in excess of 180 million times, achieving a penetration not achieved by other media. YouTube already provides HD video and 3D. I wonder if the founders thought that the original 19sec film about elephants at San Diego Zoo was the start of a revolution?