The Creation of YouTube

How a Trio of Work Colleagues Founded an Internet Sensation

Cat watching video

Elena Eliachevitch / Getty Images

What in the world did we do before YouTube was created? Or, rather, know how to do?

Everything from how to put on false eyelashes to the proper way to skin a deer to the chord progressions for your favorite rock songs is now just a click away, thanks to this video-sharing invention by a trio of former PayPal employees. It was February 2005 when Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karin, working out of a garage in Menlo Park, California, debuted their invention. In November 2006, the investors became millionaires when they sold YouTube for $1.65 billion to the search engine Google

A Virtual Encyclopedia

According to Jawed Karim, the inspiration for YouTube came from the halftime faux pas committed by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, when Janet’s breast was accidentally exposed to millions of viewers on live television. Karim could not find the video clip anywhere online, so the idea to found a destination to watch and share videos on the World Wide Web was born.

Today, YouTube users can create, upload, and share video clips on the site,, and also embed them for further sharing on any number of non-YouTube pages, including Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, users can access millions of other videos, both amateur and professional, including music videos, how-to's, product reviews, and political rants—even entire movies and television programs. YouTube even has a satellite television station. And it's all mostly free, although there is a subscription component that allows you to customize your use.

While almost anything goes on YouTube, there are a few things that don't. Content that is sexually explicit, hateful, violent, or that is threatening or bullying will be removed. Likewise, YouTube does not permit spam, scams, or misleading metadata, and they have strict rules against copyright infringement as well. Users are fully able to flag anything they see as inappropriate, and it will be brought to YouTube's attention immediately.

About the Founders

Co-founder Steve Chen was born in 1978 in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States when he was 15. He was educated at the University of Illinois and after graduation found employment at PayPal, where he met his fellow YouTube co-inventors and co-founders Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim. In August 2013, he and Chad Hurley also launched MixBit, a smartphone video editing company. Currently, Chen is with GV (formerly Google Ventures), a venture capital firm that focuses on technology companies.

Born in 1977, Chad Hurley received a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Pennsylvania and was later employed by eBay’s PayPal division (Hurley designed PayPal's trademark logo). In addition to founding MixBit with Steve Chen in 2013, Hurley is also an investor in several major sports teams.

Jawed Karim (born in 1979) also worked at Paypal, where he met his future YouTube founders. Karim also pursued an advanced degree at Stanford University and is considered the most elusive member of the threesome. He was the first person ever to post a video on YouTube, a 19-second video of his visit to the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. As of this writing, the video has had over 72 million views.

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Bellis, Mary. "The Creation of YouTube." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Bellis, Mary. (2021, February 16). The Creation of YouTube. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "The Creation of YouTube." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 18, 2021).