17 years ago, on Sunday, a 25-year-old named Javed Karim uploaded his first YouTube video, starting a service that became a go-to video streaming hub and giving anyone with a camera and a good edge. Idea for an opportunity to earn a living from their own content.
It must be said that the first video was, nothing to write home about. The low-res clip, 19 seconds long (below), is called I’m in the zooYouTube co-founder Karim appears at the San Diego Zoo, helpfully pointing out that elephants have remarkably long trunks.
Like most videos that hit the streaming site in those early days, the clip lacks the highly-produced touches that are so evident in much of the content that fills the platform today.
“Okay, here we go in front of the elephants,” Karim said in front of the camera in his first ever YouTube video. “The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long torsos, and that’s cool, that’s pretty much all to say.”
Of course, when he recorded and uploaded the clip, Karim knew the idea that YouTube would continue to be a phenomenon today. Nor that his video would garner hundreds of millions of views in the years since.
A month after Karim’s video hit the site in April 2005, Youtube It launched a public beta for the service before the official launch in November of that year. At about the same time, Karim left YouTube to study for a master’s degree in computer science at Stanford University, but received shares worth tens of millions of dollars when Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006. Karim went on to co-found the venture fund It’s called Youniversity Ventures (now YVentures), with Airbnb and Reddit among the beneficiaries of the investments.
The creator of the first YouTube video sometimes edits a clip’s description to express his opinion if the company makes a change to the platform he doesn’t like. Last year, for example, Karim criticized YouTube Public hate charges removed.
As of April 2022, the elephant clip has been viewed over 228 million times and has received over 11 million comments. Someone recently said, “Let’s be honest, we’re going to show our kids this video one day.”
“Writer. Amateur musicaholic. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie. General internet maven. Bacon enthusiast. Coffee nerd.”