YouTube Celebrates Fifth Birthday | The Past, Present, & Future Of The Online Video Leader

1 min read

youtube-logoIt feels like YouTube has been with us for ever. It’s such an essential part of the Web, and known by almost everyone, and yet it’s only been five years since the domain name was registered. Time to take a look at the past, present, and future of the ubiquitous video site.

YouTube’s Fifth Birthday

The domain was registered on Feb. 14, 2005. Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder, marked the anniversary with a post on the Official YouTube Blog.

In it, he talks about how important online video has become, how building partnerships are important, and how YouTube is constantly striving to be the standard-bearer in this constantly-evolving industry.

Where It Began

YouTube began when Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who all worked at PayPal at the time, wanted to share videos with each other but couldn’t send the files via email as they were too large. Hey presto, YouTube was born in all its inbred simplicity.

The first video uploaded to the site was Jawed Karim posting from the zoo.

Word spread, and the site officially launched before the end of the year. The ease of use of the site meant sharing video became a possibility for everyone, in the same way as Flickr allowed everyone to share photos with little effort.

The Present

In October 2006, Google bought YouTube for an incredible $1.65 billion. This is the video showing Chad Hurley and Steve Chen announcing the acquisition by the search giant.


then set about ridding the site of copyright-infringing content, adding layers of advertising, and gaining premium content as well as the bread and butter that is user-generated content.

Three years later and YouTube had grown to such an extent that it was serving one billion videos views a day. This makes YouTube the absolute leader in online video, a long way ahead of any of its competitors.

The most-viewed video of all time on YouTube is nothing more than a baby biting his older brother’s finger. And yet that kind of sums up the appeal of the site – ordinary people uploading ordinary scenes of everyday life. If it’s appealing then people will watch it.

The Future

The first five years of YouTube’s life have obviously been very successful. But only to a point. It’s still not turning a profit, although it is getting closer to doing so, and there are still a couple of legal battles hanging over its head.

YouTube will need to continue to innovate to compete as online video enters the next level. TV shows and movies are slowly but surely moving to the Web and it’s entirely possible that a new venture will supersede YouTube as the number one video destination. It may be Hulu, it certainly won’t be Veoh.

But for now, YouTube is king.