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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

YouTube: From Concept to Hyper-growth

There is an absolute fantastic video about the creation and early days of YouTube from the quiet founder, Jawed Karim. This is a University lecture he did last night - I think. It is 50 mins long and required viewing for anyone interested in the process of creating an internet company.

Four points stand out for me:
i) the roots and functionality from other “killer applications” (LiveJournal -1999, HotorNot - 2000, Wikipedia – 2001, Friendster - 2002, del.icio.us - 2003, Flickr - 2004) which all proved that social networking sites could work and more importantly could be scaled.

ii) The role of enabling technologies in determining the right moment to launch applications, in the case of YouTube there was Home Broadband, Digital Camera’s and Cellphones (Grrrr – said the mobile operators – another wasted revenue opportunity), Cheap Hosting Bandwidth, Macromedia Flash 7 (using this as the video player was a huge innovation)

iii) The role of two TV events which were only shown once on network TV: the Janet Jackson Wardrobe malfunction in Feb 2004 and the Stewart interview on Crossfire (867k watched on CNN, 3 times that number watched online). Also, the role of Tsunami in the Indian Ocean on Dec 26th 2004 where the only coverage available was made with cellphones. It is noticeable that two of three key events mentioned involved videos with copyrights.

iv) Version 1.0 was a flop. Only when they added in 2.0: Related Videos – to increase viewing, features to encourage user interaction, and an external player so the MySpace generation could use it easier did it take-off. It also received a big boost when it was slashdotted.
The final thing that stuck out to me is that he seems a nice and modest guy – sometimes the good guys do win.