Flashback 2005: YouTube Is Born

With more than a billion users and 2 billion views a day, YouTube is a force to be reckoned with but its humble beginnings gave no hint of what was to come.

Fourteen years ago this week (April 23, 2005), Jawed Karim uploaded the first video to the video-sharing website he and his partners Chad Hurley and Steve Chen had just created.

The video (below) was a prolific work that would stand the test of time. Uh, actually, it was “Me at the zoo,” a lame 19-second clip shot at an unidentified zoo. It’s clear that Karim had no idea what he and his pals were on to.

We’re thinking the powers-that-be at Sequoia Capital, which funded the startup to the tune of $11.5 million, might have been just a tad horrified by YouTube’s maiden post.

In May 2005, YouTube offered the public a beta test of the site. The first video to attract a million views was a Nike advertisement featuring Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho posted in November 2005. By mid-December the site was getting 8 million views a day and was officially launched on December 15, following a $3.5 million investment from Sequoia Capital.

Less than a year later, YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.6 billion.

Today, YouTube’s billion-plus users watch every imaginable kind of video — most of which are a bit more inspired than Karim’s initial attempt at video sharing and many of which are downright… (we’ll let you fill in the blank).

Word to the wise: When you’re doing something in public for the first time — something for posterity — it pays to step back for a moment and ponder how what you’re about to do will hold up years from now.

See A Brief History of YouTube for some background and a video on the making of YouTube.