It’s hard to believe in a world before YouTube. A time before we could simply search and stream any content that the human mind could imagine? Get real. Yet this site isn’t going anywhere. The existence of endless video and easy uploading has changed not only the way we consume music, film, and television, but the very meaning of the words “like,” “share,” and “subscribe.” Kids used to dream of being movie stars, but now they dream of being professional vloggers. When did that change happen?
Where there’s big money and big fame at stake, there are big scandals—the platform is no exception. How did YouTuber founders fund their venture? Which videos shattered records? Where is it mostly banned? Just how much YouTube do we consume by the minute?
1. Who’s Got Time for a Binge-Watch?
Every minute, over 100 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube.
2. Zoo You See Me?
Having a monkey of a time? You should know the first-ever YouTube video was posted on April 23, 2005, by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim on a trip to the San Diego Zoo. It also features the song “Sandstorm” by Darude.
3. It Pays to Be a Pal
Three founding members of YouTube—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—came up with the idea when they were employees at PayPal.
4. Shopping Spree
On November 12, 2006, Google famously bought YouTube after just 18 months after the site’s creation. The price tag? A not-bad $1.65 billion.
5. The Limit Does Exist
The music video for “Gangnam Style” by Psy (remember him!?) was so popular, it broke the YouTube view counter. The counter previously only went up to 32 integers because YouTube didn’t think a video could ever reach beyond that many views. Obviously, it’s been updated.
6. It’s a Small Tech World After All
YouTube CEO is a woman named Susan Wojcicki, and she has the position for a good reason—she was behind its purchase by Google! Wojcicki was already working in tech when she rented out her garage to the future Google founders in 1998. In fact, Google had just incorporated itself in the same month that Larry Page and Sergey Brin opened shop in Wojcicki’s home. She stuck with the company, and was behind Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006 when Google found their own video streaming platform couldn’t compete.
7. Blink and You’ll Miss Her
The only existing footage of Anne Frank was posted to YouTube on September 23, 2009. It’s film of a 1941 wedding, where Anne is present to look out of her window.
8. Ye Olde Kitty
Would it be YouTube without cat videos? However, fun footage of feline predates the advent of YouTube by centuries; the earliest cat video to make its way to YouTube is actually from 1894, although it was posted more than a hundred years later in 2012.
9. Grump vs. GOOP
In 2014, feline YouTube star Grumpy Cat brought home more money than Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, was even able to quit her job to manage her cat’s YouTube stardom full-time.
10. Is It Me You’re Looking For?
We don’t think of YouTube as a “search engine”, but it’s true. The video service is the world’s second largest search engine in the world, second only, of course, to its parent company, Google. You could put Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and AOL together and YouTube would still be bigger.
11. Steaming with Extra Cheese
The first YouTube headquarters was stationed atop a Japanese restaurant and pizza shop in the city of San Mateo, California. Must have smelt great.
12. Playtime Is Fun Time
Commuting is hard, but YouTube headquarters tries to make the last stretch a little more fun. In 2011, employees got the option of either taking the elevator, stairs, or a fun slide between levels.
13. Pucker Up in 5 Steps or Less
From 2012 to 2015, “How to Kiss” was the most popular “how to” search on the entire website. How to “tie a tie” came in second, so maybe YouTube was our go-to source for date tips?
14. How Dare You Point Out I Stole from You?
In 2016, Family Guy lifted video game footage from a 2007 YouTube upload for one of its episodes. The show did this without permission. That’s already sketchy, but it got notably worse when FOX removed the original clip from YouTube for copyright infringement against Family Guy. Who says the system doesn’t work?
15. YouTube, Make Me A Match
According to tech world lore, YouTube was conceived at first to be a video dating website, one that could compete with services like Hot or Not.
16. Never Miss Out Again
The infamous Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction” is held as an important moment in YouTube pre-history. It’s said that YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim was disappointed in not being able to find video evidence of the scandal. If only there were an easy way for people to search and find any footage they could imagine, right? It’s similar to how J.Lo’s infamous deep V-neck dress was one of the factors in the creation of Google Images.
17. Too Big Not to Share
If Dropbox, Google Drive, or other cloud storage service were invented sooner, we might not have YouTube. One of the instigators for YouTube’s invention came when co-founder Steve Chen wanted to email videos to his friends, but the file was too large for the mail services. Oh, if only there some third-party hosting site where people could upload large videos that humans could share with a simple link.
18. I See You
In its nascent stage, people seeking YouTube kept ending up on a totally different domain called “utube.” The sloppy spellers messed up traffic for both sites; YouTube lost out on visitors while utube sued Youtube for damaging their business. Eventually, utube changed to “utubeonline,” thereby restoring peace between the two cyber-nations.
19. United States of Streaming
The vast majority of YouTube traffic comes from outside of the US—a whole 80%, in fact.
20. Never Gonna Give You Up
The first Rick Rolls were made by YouTube themselves on April Fools’ Day in 2008. That day, all links of the site’s main page would lead to Rick Astley’s now iconic music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
21. Take a Bite of This Fact
As of 2015, the most popular non-music video on YouTube is “Charlie Bit My Finger.”
22. Streaming for Centuries
Each day, more than 500 years worth of YouTube footage is watched from all around the world.
23. Pay It Forward
Most know that the original YouTube founders were once employed by PayPal. But did you know that eBay indirectly funded their venture? After eBay purchased PayPal, the three YouTube founders used their bonuses to fund their first steps of their video-hosting platform.
No matter your native tongue, YouTube (probably) had an operating language that you can understand. You can navigate the platform in 76 different languages, which covers about 95% of worldwide Internet users.
25. Shake It Off
Remember the Harlem Shake? At the height of the meme, YouTube had a feature where the YouTube logo would do the Harlem itself if the user typed “Do the Harlem Shake.”
26. Gotta Stream Fast
YouTube’s rise to fame was fast. Really fast. The site debuted in early 2005, but by summer 2006, it was one of the biggest hits of the Internet, averaging about 100 million views a day. By this stage, YouTube was even outpacing MySpace in terms of growth.
27. It’s About Time
YouTube was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2006. It was embodied by a large mirror framed by the iconic YouTube screen format. Get it? You-tube?
28. Child’s Play
YouTube is rising to be one of the leading children’s content providers. In 2015, the company announced “YouTube Kids” which has since garnered more than 70 billion views and was downloaded by tens of millions of people.
29. Not Suitable for Kids
YouTube Kids isn’t all fun and games: in 2017, the company went under fire for allowing inappropriate and downright shocking videos to make their way to the children’s application. Some accounts would use the colorful trappings of children’s cartoons to sneak in violent and sexual imagery.
30. In the Palm of Your Hand
To the shock of few people, half of all YouTube users operate the app almost entirely on mobile, either on their smartphone or their tablet, but probably still hiding from the world in their room.
31. Eight-Figure Greetings
Adele’s “Hello” had one of the biggest YouTube video debuts of all time. The swoony music video reached 50 million views after just 48 hours online.
32. We Are the 60% Percent
Who hasn’t dreamt of YouTube fame? It all seems so easy after all. But according to a YouTube engineer, it’s harder to break out than we could imagine: 99% of traffic is generated from just 30% of videos. So, no, that cat vlog isn’t likely to be your big break, unless it’s a really good cat vlog that can tap into that top 30%.
33. Too Lonely to Be True
If you’re old enough, you might remember the “lonleygirl15” series and scandal. It was a basic premise: from 2006 to 2008, a teenaged girl named Bree Avery posted vlogs about her life. The real-life confessional look into this girl’s relatable experiences was an instant hit. The only hitch: Bree never existed. The entire plot was fake; 16-year-old “Bree” was actually a 19-year-old actress named Jessica Rose. This all broke out pretty early in 2006, but the show continued to go on until 2008.
34. Just Share It
In 2005, Nike’s ad with Brazilian soccer sensation Ronaldinho became the first YouTube video to reach 1 million views. It’s generally believed this ad pioneered the idea of the “viral video” for many a buzzword user to enjoy.
35. Where’s My Cut?
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a YouTuber partner and collect that sweet revenue? In fact, YouTube partners only see 55% of the money made from ads on their videos. YouTube keeps the other 45% for themselves.
36. Red, White, and Live
Partnering with ABC News, YouTube offered a livestream of the US presidential debate for the first time in October 2012.
37. The Super Subscriber
As of 2018, Swedish gamer PewDiePie remains the most subscribed YouTubers in the world. His vlogs have attracted 66.1 million subscribers—enough to start his own country. It hasn’t been an easy ride, however, as partners such as Disney recently broke off their sponsorships with him due to a series a racist and anti-Semitic scandals attached to his channel. But the very fact that a vlogger can get partnerships with Disney in the first place shows that big vloggers mean big business.
38. Head of Going Viral
British Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first world leader to have a YouTube channel in 2007. Took them long enough.
39. Born to Be Banned
According to one study, 61.5% of every 1,000 videos on YouTube are banned or blocked in the nation of Germany. Compare that to countries like the United States or Switzerland, where the ban rate is respective 0.9% and even less than 1%. We guess Germany has more discerning tastes.
40. For When You’re Too Cheap for Spotify
In a survey of Canadian YouTube users, it was found that 65% of people used the video platform as their personal music service. Three out of every five people used YouTube to listen to music at least once a week. 13% admitted to doing this several times a day—TBH, that seems low.
41. Most Popular
On August 30, 2017, the music video for “Despacito” by Louis Fonsi became the first YouTube video to ever reach 20 million thumbs up. To date, it remains the most liked YouTube video of all time with more than 30 million thumbs-up and a liked percentage of 89.45%.