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Happy Birthday YouTube: Ten Years Strong

Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 4:30PM

It’s hard to believe that YouTube, the second largest search engine today, started with one video 10 years ago titled “Me at the zoo.” Who would have thought that YouTube would become what it is today. There are so many users on YouTube that if it were a country it would be the largest in the world after China and India. That’s HUGE! YouTube started with three employees from PayPal. The first public preview of YouTube was in May 2005, making its official debut later that year.

So what have we learned from YouTube over these ten years? That anyone can be a star. You can make money from your home videos. The most embarrassing moments can live forever if they are recorded and uploaded. Everyone loves a grumpy cat. You can learn how to do just about anything on YouTube.

In 2006, YouTube was bought by Google for a mere $1.65 billion. People gave Google doubt saying they overpaid for the site. Now? The website is valued at around $40 billion. Talk about an investment!

But it’s not just the numbers that wow people. YouTube has changed the way we communicate, and the way to get news out into the world. If it weren’t for YouTube, the 2011 Egyptian Uprising would not have been as successful, and those in other countries would not have seen the real brutality Egyptians were experiencing. The uprising also sparked because of a YouTube video uploaded by Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26-year-old Egyptian Activist. Mahfouz posted the video urging people to protest the corrupt government and asked people to rally with her in Tahrir Square on January 25th.

Released on March 5, 2012, the Kony 2012 video uploaded on YouTube raised awareness about the Invisible Children and the effort to capture Joseph Kony. The video became part of a campaign that involved an action named, “Cover the Night.” Americans were urged to print out or purchase posters and stickers to put up in their hometowns on April 20th. While Joseph Kony has never been captured, the Kony 2012 campaign on YouTube was one of the biggest YouTube campaigns in its history.

YouTube isn’t just for uprising and sad videos. If you weren’t living under a rock in summer of 2014, you would have at least seen, if not participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This challenge was perhaps the biggest social video movement ever. Millions of people participated, nominated, watched, and donated to the ALS cause. ALS, or Motor Neurone Disease, is a disease that causes muscle paralysis. So to raise awareness, the Ice Bucket Challenge was meant to show participants the pain that those with ALS suffer. The Ice Bucket Challenge generated 1.3 billion views and over 456,000 videos uploaded to YouTube.

Many people have YouTube to thank for their fame and fortune. Among the list: Justin Beiber, Kate Upton, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Susan Boyle. While Jimmy Fallon was already famous when he created his YouTube channel, his channel has about 633,000 subscribers. Justin Beiber’s superstardom all started with the homemade video of the 12 year old singing. Eventually leading him to a record deal before the legal age to drive. Justin went on to pay it forward with the share of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” video. Jepsen went on to sign a mega-deal with Schoolboy Records. Kate Upton is known for being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but owes some of her success to the video she posted on YouTube of her doing a dance move called “the Dougie” at an LA Clippers game.

It’s hard to think what our world would be like without YouTube these past ten years. YouTube has dominated the video industry and is now the world’s default repository for videos. If you want to find a video, you look on YouTube. Videos pretty much don’t exist unless they’re on YouTube. With over 1 billion users and 100 hours of video being uploaded every minute, don’t expect YouTube to be closing up shop any time soon. YouTube is here to stay. To celebrate with YouTube on its tenth birthday, enjoy this video on the evolution of viral videos .


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