While YouTube is an Internet staple in today’s world, it wasn’t that long ago that no such service existed. Having a database where people can easily upload, find, and view videos might seem like an obvious natural progression of the Internet, but back in 2005, it wasn’t so straight forward.
In fact, the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, didn’t even recognize the need until after they launched YouTube.
YouTube was initially named “Tune In, Hook Up” and was a dating site, but it was largely unsuccessful and didn’t last long. It wasn’t until the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show that the founders realized there was an unfulfilled market for videos on the Internet.
Thus, the founders transformed their website from a dating site into a platform where everyday people could easily upload and watch videos. This was the entire intent behind modern YouTube – they wanted to transform the market to where the users could control the content and decide for themselves what they wanted to see.
Just as crucially, they wanted that database to be easily searchable, so you could find any video on the Internet.
The first video was uploaded to YouTube on April 23, 2005, over two months after the original launch date. So, while the founders initially created YouTube as a dating site, it didn’t take them long to pivot to a more prosperous and transformative business model.
One could argue that YouTube was the first company that modeled the idea of a connected global community and turned it into a successful business platform. Whether this was the founder’s intent is unknown, but it has been a lynchpin to their success. Since then, this has been the market strategy for a wide range of successful social media sites.
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