YouTube is turning five (again) today. While the video site’s official birthday is in February, the very first video was uploaded to YouTube on April 23rd, 2005. At the time, the site was still in private beta and the 18-second clip features YouTube founder Jawed Karim, at the San Diego Zoo. The clip, dubbed “Me at the zoo,” is as innocuous as it gets, which is actually very fitting to the nature of the site.
At the time, there was no easy way of sharing videos online, which is what the site’s three founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, set out to fix. The youtube.com domain was registered on February 14, 2005. This is the date that YouTube recognizes as its official birthday, but there was no YouTube – the site to speak of – at the time.
The three got to work, coding the site in the early months of 2005 and were ready for the fist video exactly five years ago today. The unimpressive beginning was not telling for the path the site would take as it skyrocketed to worldwide fame. The site went live in May 2005 in private beta and was officially launched in November the same year. By July next year, it had already featured 65,000 videos and the buzz surrounding it was enormous.
This led to the very famous Google acquisition that closed in November 2006, a year after the site was officially launched. The search giant paid $1.65 billion for the video site, a huge figure even by today’s standards. In fact, Google has since admitted that the site was overpriced. Significantly overpriced, Google reckons it paid $1 billion over YouTube’s real value at the time. The reason for it was simple, it wanted to be 100 percent sure that someone else didn’t snatch it up from under its nose.
YouTube is one of the largest websites in the world right now, with over 24 hours’ worth of video uploaded every minute. Still, it has been struggling to turn a profit and 2010 seems like the year YouTube finally starts making money for Google.