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History of YouTube: When Did YouTube Start? YouTube’s Origin Story

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to think about online videos and not remember YouTube. But 15 years ago, the internet’s largest video platform simply didn’t exist. From its launch in 2005 to the present, the site has caused a real revolution in the way we consume content online.

Occupying the rank of the second largest search engine on the Internet – just behind Google – YouTube has more than 2000 million active users each month. And each of them spends, on average, an hour and 15 minutes watching videos on the platform every day.

All over the world, no less than 500 hours of new content are published for minutes –that’s a lot of videos! And the global reach is huge, as you can browse YouTube in more than 80 languages.

But in addition to being an entertainment channel, YouTube has become one of the best marketing and advertising platforms. Thousands of companies invest much of their budget in posting videos on this site.

Despite all these numbers, it’s hard to imagine that YouTube’s history hasn’t always been like that. A little over a decade ago, the platform was nothing more than a small start-up and unknown to the public.

Want to know more about YouTube’s history? Then take advantage of the content we’ve prepared for you!

The Beginning of the YouTube story. When did YouTube start?

Let’s think that in 2004, in Latin America, the Internet connection was still made via telephone connection, there was no Facebook, and everyone communicated through MSN Messenger. Silicon Valley, in California, was already in full swing and several business ideas appeared at all times. Among them was YouTube.

Good occurrences come when you least expect them. Let Chad Hurley say so! This former employee of PayPal recorded a video during a dinner at a friend’s house and found it very difficult to share it. At that time he had an insight; How about creating a service that would allow you to easily upload videos and share them?

It didn’t take long and Hurley joined two other former PayPal teammates, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. On February 14, 2005, the trio inaugurated the domain that’s the answer to the question of when did youtube release for the first time.

YouTube creators Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim
YouTube creators Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim

The first video in the history of YouTube

The ability to post videos was only added to the platform on April 23 of that year. It was on this date that the first content was transmitted.

The first video in YouTube’s history is only 19 seconds long and shows one of its founders, Chad Hurley, on a visit to the San Diego Zoo in California. Look:

Although the content is irrelevant, this video is a real milestone and has inaugurated a new way of relating to the web. Since then, we’ve never stopped sharing our lives on the web.

The First Viral Video

At that time, the creators of YouTube had no idea that their Startup would become one of the most important sites in the world. For them, the platform would have a more private character, where users could post videos and send them only to their acquaintances.

For this reason, in the first two months of its existence, the site had only 19 hosted videos and very few visits.

But on June 25, 2005, the 20th video was uploaded to the platform and that’s when YouTube took a big step. The video, with two boys dubbing a song by the backstreet boys, became the first viral video in YouTube history:

The video was a resounding success at the time and today, it has already racked up over 6 million views. It may seem like very little, especially when compared to today’s most popular videos, with billions of views and comments. But we must remember that YouTube was still an unknown site by many and social media was still crawling.

The first big brand to post on YouTube

During this same period, the platform began to gain more attention, even from some brands. At a time when video monetization wasn’t yet a reality, Nike was the first company in YouTube’s history to bet on the tool as a form of outreach.

You may remember the video in which Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho Gaúcho wears Nike soccer boots, does freestyle soccer, and hits several kicks on the crossbar. The feat made many people think the video was a montage. In case you don’t remember, check it out:


In addition to being real, the ace’s tricks became the platform’s first video to rack up 1 million views- quite an achievement!

The Beginning of Success

In 2006, YouTube was already a real phenomenon and one of the sites with the highest growth projection on the Internet. In the first half of that year alone, the platform went from 4.9 million to 19.6 million users; an increase of almost 300%!

To give you a better idea of the speed of this growth, in July 2006, YouTube increased its share of Internet traffic by 75% worldwide. There were 65 thousand videos published and generated millions of views.

At the time, the average profile of the Internet user accessing YouTube was composed mainly of male teenagers. But, even with such a restricted audience, the site was already responsible for 65% of the audiovisual content market on the Internet and began to show its full potential as a marketing and business platform.

The Google Era

Despite all the success and development of the platform, YouTube faced a serious problem: the site had no revenue what so. And to make matters worse, he became involved in several lawsuits for copyright infringement.

Without a physical and monetary structure to deal with obstacles of this size and global scope, it seemed that YouTube’s history would have a tragic end and bankruptcy would be inevitable.

Fortunately, the brand’s rapid rise and financial difficulties caught the attention of one of its main competitors: Google. At that time, the company concentrated its efforts on developing Google videos, but the project was set aside.

Finally, in October 2006 Google acquired YouTube for USD 1.65 billion.

The transaction turned out to be an excellent deal as YouTube is currently worth more than $100 billion. About 20% of Alphabet, the world’s largest parent company and controller of Google and all its services.

The million-dollar purchase was a milestone in the history of YouTube, Google, online videos, and the entire Internet.

Brand Consolidation

After being acquired by the search giant, YouTube has become an indispensable tool for those who watch videos online. And the numbers don’t lie. According to Google data, 99% of internet users who watch videos on the internet, access YouTube.

From this moment, the platform begins to develop solutions to make money and make content creators bill as well.

One of them is Content ID, a tool that analyzes the contents published on the platform in search of extracts of audiovisual works protected by copyright.

YouTube has also launched the Partner Program, which allows YouTubers to use their own content to generate revenue. Thus, it is possible to make money with the ads posted on the videos.

Then, the site became one of the best video content marketing tools. Several companies invest part of the budget to advertise on the platform and increase brand reach and visibility.

The ability to make money from online videos attracted more and more content creators and consequently users interested in consuming videos online. YouTube kept growing!

Command Change and New Features

And to keep users happy, the platform invested in new features and improving existing ones.

The year 2008 marked the appearance of 480p videos and the mobile version of the site, while high-definition (720p) content would not be available until the following year. In 2009 the site also launched automatic subtitles through advanced voice detection technology.

That same year, YouTube surpassed one billion videos viewed per day.

In 2010 the platform inaugurated the option to “like” videos and rent full movies. That’s when the first change of command occurred.

Iran’s Salar Kamangar becomes CEO of the company after being one of the first Google employees to lead the web applications division. That same year, YouTube became the third most accessed site in the world, behind only Google and Facebook.

Salar Kamangar
Salar Kamangar

But the following year, 2011, was crucial to YouTube’s history. The platform launched a live streaming tool: YouTube Live. At that time, the Middle East was shaken by the Arab Spring. Millions of protesters from countries in the region began using the functionality to show the protests in their countries, shocking the entire world.

World Domination and the Escalation of Gameplay

The platform has not stopped growing and surprising us all. In 2012, the site inaugurated a new interface, with a more responsive design and focused on mobile devices.

It was in that same year that the clip of “Gangnam Style”, by South Korean Psy, was released on the platform. The video became such a pop phenomenon that it “broke” YouTube’s view counter, surpassing 1,000 million views.

After that, the site had to change the way it counted views of content.

At the same time, the platform changes the algorithm of ranking and ranking the videos in the suggestions for the user on the main page of the site. From that moment on, it begins to privilege the time that users spend watching the videos and not the number of views.

That is, the longer the video, the more time the user will spend in front of the screen and the better their position in the ranking will be.

And all of a sudden, videos with top 10 charts and compilations became bombshells on YouTube, just like the gameplays.

Then came the rush of videos about Minecraft, a Lego-style standalone game where players create virtual worlds using blocks.

Millions of young people around the world began recording their adventures in video games, showing their virtual creations and reactions. There are millions of videos on the subject, accumulating more than 40 billion views.

It was in the same context of video games that the most popular YouTuber in history emerged: PewDiePie. The young Swede revolutionized the universe of gameplay, with funny videos of the horror game Amnesia – The Dark Descent. His unparalleled charisma reached more than 60 million subscribers a few years later.

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In 2014, the videos were released at 60 frames per second and, the following year, the content in 360º. The company is still trying to create new forms of monetization, such as the YouTube RED (now YouTube Premium), a paid version of the site, ad-free and with offline videos.

2014 also brought about the company’s last CEO change. The person taking over was Susan Wojcicki, one of the most important women in the world of advertising and essential to the history of Google.

She gave up the garage of her house to make it the company’s first office. The executive has worked as Google’s advertising and commerce manager and has developed products such as AdSense, one of the company’s largest sources of revenue.

Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki

A Success that will last a Long Time

The YouTube we have today is very different from 2005 when the first video was posted on the platform. In addition to the dozens of interface changes and new features implemented, the site has adapted to the development of the Internet itself.

As the web gained space in the world, reaching every continent, the online video site was transformed to increase its global reach. Today, YouTube has local versions in 88 countries, reaches 96% of all Internet users and continues to grow.

The popularization of YouTube has also influenced a new generation of young people looking to succeed on the Internet and gain fame. The dream of being a YouTuber and making money from online videos can be compared to the dream of being a football player in the past.

Content producers such as El Rubius in Spain, Germán in Chile or Yuya in Mexico, have become celebrities of the digital world. Millions of young people are inspired by them to create their own channels and to publish videos with content on the most diverse topics.


YouTube’s history is intertwined with the trajectory of the Internet itself. We cannot talk about the Internet without citing this powerful platform.

And the future of video is even more promising. A Cisco study indicates that online video consumption will account for 82% of all data traffic on the Internet by 2021.

At a time when the internet was still crawling, YouTube was a pioneering idea that practically introduced the consumption of videos on the web as we know it today.

The platform created opportunities for millions of people to become creators, democratizing information and culture. Plus, of course, revolutionizing content marketing forever.

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