The "broadcast yourself" startup is now a world-class service delivering two billion views daily
Five years ago
, YouTube launched in beta with a very simple but very significant charge to Web users the world over: "broadcast yourself."
Founded in 2005 by two ex-PayPal employees (three
, depending on how you count), YouTube started out as a place for anybody with a computer, a camera, and just a little bit of time to share a few minutes of video with anyone around the world. Today, after hours and hours of uploads involving keyboard-playing cats and drugged-up little kids, the site still thrives in that same spirit, but it has evolved from just a haven for amateur video stars to the go-to platform for anyone to share their videos online, professional or not.
These days, YouTube serves up two billion views daily, which the company says amounts to "nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major U.S. television networks combined." Nothing short of impressive.
Every single day, users log on to YouTube to watch a seemingly never-ending reserve of videos--videos of politicians addressing their citizens, music videos for blooming pop stars, manifestos from disgruntled citizens, independent films from aspiring artists, blockbuster films from movie companies exploring new technologies, and more. The video site isn't just for entertainment anymore, it's a platform for protest and a place for people to advertise what they're doing with their lives.
What comes next? Well, while no one can contest that YouTube has the library, now it has to make sure it doesn't just deliver an ocean of irrelevant content.
"Our biggest challenge is making sure we don’t taste too many things," said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube.
Following perfectly in line with recent trends toward a more socially-oriented Web, Hurley says YouTube is now focusing on presenting content to users that their friends have already enjoyed. The idea, a perfectly reasonable one, assumes that you will be more interested in the videos that you're friends have already found interesting.
If YouTube can guarantee users that it will always serve up the freshest, most relevant, most compelling videos, it can look forward to another five years as king of online video.