This Week in History: Feb 2005 YouTube is Founded by Three Former PayPal Employees

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Steve Chen (centre) and Chad Hurley (right) during an interview, 2007. © Joi Ito (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons Legal Code.

YouTube was founded by three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim– in February 2005.

In November 2006, Google bought the site for US$1.65 billion, and has since operated as one of Google’s subsidiaries.

It was registered on February 14, 2005, by Chen, Hurley, and Karim, who had come up with the idea that ordinary people would enjoy sharing their “home videos.”

The company is headquartered in San Bruno, California.

YouTube allows users to upload videos, view them, rate them with likes and dislikes, share them, add videos to playlists, report, make comments on videos, and subscribe to other users.

The slogan “Broadcast Yourself” used for several years and the reference to user profiles as “Channels” signifies the premise upon which the platform is based, of allowing anyone to operate a personal broadcasting station in resemblance to television with the extension of video on demand.

As such, the platform offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos.

As of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day.

As of October 2020, YouTube is the second-most popular website in the world, behind Google, according to Alexa Internet.

YouTube has faced criticism over aspects of its operations, including its handling of copyrighted content contained within uploaded videos, its recommendation algorithms perpetuating videos that promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods, hosting videos ostensibly targeting children but containing violent or sexually suggestive content involving popular characters, videos of minors attracting pedophilic activities in their comment sections, and fluctuating policies on the types of content that is eligible to be monetized with advertising.

Based on reported quarterly advertising revenue, YouTube is estimated to have US$15 billion in annual revenues.