15 YEARS OF YOUTUBE: A look back at YouTube's founding, its acquisition by Google, and how the platform launched a multibillion dollar industry for creators (GOOG, GOOGL)

chad hurley steve chen youtube

  • It’s been 15 years since YouTube launched to the public in
    early 2005.
  • A year and a half later, it was acquired by Google for $1.65
    billion, paving the way for the platform to become the creative
    haven we know today.
  • For the site’s 15th anniversary, Business Insider spoke to
    YouTube’s founders, earliest employees, investors, and early
    creators to hear how YouTube went from a bustling startup to the

    multibillion dollar business
    it is today. 
  • Read the full, untold story of YouTube, the company that would
    shatter the expectations of what “entertainment” could mean and who
    could be a part of it.
  • Visit Business
    Insider’s homepage for more stories
    .

Fifteen years ago, there was no iPhone, Facebook was only a year
old, and dial-up internet was still fairly popular. At the same
time, a company called YouTube began encouraging everyday people to
“Broadcast Yourself” — and ended up writing the rulebook for
going viral on the internet in the process. 

After 18 months, YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion,
making it one of the most lucrative tech acquisitions of the time.
Its cofounders and most early employees have moved on, leaving
behind memories of when the internet behemoth was still in its
infancy.

For the 15th anniversary of YouTube, Business Insider talked to
the people who were there before YouTube became a global, cultural
sensation. Some of its earliest employees, investors, and cofounder
Steve Chen recounted details of its growing pains: Struggling to
keep the website running as traffic surged. Working in close,
rat-infested quarters above a pizza shop. Burning through cash as
they tried to keep up with infrastructure demands and faced
copyright lawsuits from music industry executives. Fielding a
bidding war between two major tech companies that ended in a 3 a.m.
meeting in a Denny’s parking lot.

In the early days, YouTube was more about creation and community
than fame or money. More than 15 early creators told Business
Insider about coming to YouTube before it could be a career,
storming the platform with a sheer desire to express themselves.
They formed a community made up of people who were used to being
outsiders in their offline lives who bonded over a passion for
creativity.

But back in May 2005, YouTube’s cofounders had only an inkling
of what the site would become. Read below for the full, inside
story of YouTube, the company that would shatter the expectations
of what “entertainment” could mean and who could be a part of
it.

The Early Days


‘We had no idea how to do it’: YouTube’s founders, investors, and
first employees tell the chaotic inside story of how it rose from
failed dating site to $1.65 billion video behemoth


YouTube is 15 years old. Here’s the incredible story of the
website’s early days, and how it rose to become the world’s most
popular place to watch video


Take a look at the history-making pitch deck YouTube used to secure
its first $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital in 2005, and the
investor memo that convinced the firm of the platform’s
potential


Watch the first YouTube video ever uploaded

How YouTube Changed the Internet


7 early YouTubers reveal the moments they knew they made it
big


These are the videos that changed YouTube forever, from ‘Lazy
Sunday’ to ‘Baby Shark’


The 33 insiders who wield the most power at YouTube


Join the conversation about this story »

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15 YEARS OF YOUTUBE: A look back at YouTube's founding, its
acquisition by Google, and how the platform launched a multibillion
dollar industry for creators (GOOG, GOOGL)