YouTube was founded by Steven Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, all of whom were employees of PayPal in February 2005. The YouTube domain went active on February 15th 2005, and months later–in May of ’05–YouTube made its official debut to the public. The idea was to provide a social networking-like website where people could share their amateur videos with one another, it took off almost immediately. The following year, after growing exponentially–almost entirely by word of mout–in February of ’06, NBC Universal discovered some of its copyrighted material on the popular video hosting site. They took action and soon YouTube’s policy on copyrighted material changed, in addition, they instituted a ten minute fifty-eight second time limit for all videos submitted by anyone not apart of their so-called “Director’s Program”. The “Director’s Program” allows amateur filmmakers to upload their original content at length. Although this generally didn’t stop users who wanted to post copyrighted content, YouTube took the view that it had taken steps to prevent and discourage it –videos reported as copyrighted material by the copyright holders would be deleted, but only if reported. YouTube, through its short lived independence, had a number of competitors–none of which have thus far done nearly as well, including the likes of Google Video and the new beta by Microsoft, the so-called “Soapbox“.
Why Google? Why?
On Monday, October 9th, 2006, Google announced that it would be acquiring YouTube for $1.65 Billion in stock; roughly $82.50 for each one of its 20 million unique visitors a month. This marks the largest acquisition in Google’s eight-year history by a long shot. Last year Google spent a mere $130 million on fifteen small companies. The acquisition came with this statement by Google’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, “The YouTube team has built an exciting and powerful media platform that complements Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The implications of that statement speak volumes about what part YouTube will play in Google’s “Empire”. This, like many acquisitions of supposedly valuable internet-based companies, seems to upset users en mass. It has been immediately concluded by many critics of Google that the acquisition will “kill” YouTube. This appears to be nothing more cynical speculation at this point. Google promises that the original sixty-seven employees of YouTube will retain their jobs, and furthermore, YouTube will retain its brand and current headquarters in San Bruno, CA. The deal is expected to be fully closed by the end of the year. All the while, Google is expected to maintain its current–far less popular–video service: “Google Video”.
Short and Sweet–Here’s What I Think
What I think generally reflects the evidence I have available to me. Google bought the company to replace its flop “Google Video” eventually. I do not think this acquisition will result in a major change in the way that the site is presented, however, it will most likely be the opinion of critics that the changes taking place indicate that YouTube sold out entirely, or that the site is no longer “hip”. I have long suspected that the site would be a mere “fad” in a menagerie of internet movements. I have yet to be proven right, and frankly, I’m not holding my breath. Although its popularity may wane, I am in the belief that the current presentation and policy regarding copyrighted material will remain the same, if not very similar. Furthermore, I believe the acquisition will be beneficial to both parties, and the founders of YouTube have expressed jubilation at the acquisition. I have no doubt that the bandwidth for YouTube is prodigious, and up until the acquisition YouTube, didn’t have any particularly good way to fund bandwidth beyond the odd commercial movie-plug featured on the site’s homepage.
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