Question: What type of videos do you usually watch on YouTube?
Time to hit rewind.
The first ever YouTube video was uploaded on April 23, 2005 — exactly 15 years ago, today.
YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim posted the 18-second video, titled “Me at the zoo.” It has since garnered over 90 million views. To this day, it is the only video on Karim’s channel.
Upon clicking play, the screen fills with a young Karim’s face, his disheveled hair taking up the screen front and center.
There he is. In front of the elephants.
“The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks,” he continues. “And that’s, that’s cool.”
Unlike many YouTube creators’ videos these days, Karim’s video does not include what’s considered the more traditional sign off: “Subscribe to my channel!” or “Like, rate, comment!”
He ends the video simply by stating: “And that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
A year after “Me at the zoo,” Karim and fellow co-founders sold the platform to Google for a whopping $1.65 billion.
Now, the platform boasts more than 2 billion logged-in users visit each month, according to YouTube.
In the past decade and a half, YouTube has seen many highs and lows.
Among the lows: A surge in hate speech videos (including videos by prominent white supremacists); drama around certain creators (including PewDiePie, one YouTube’s biggest stars who faced allegations of racism and anti-Semitism); and frustration from some creators.
Among the highs: Helping elevate creators (from Smosh to Miranda Sings); launching YouTube Red, a streaming service with original TV shows and movies; and becoming a hub for all kinds of content.
YouTube says one billion hours of content is watched daily.
And it all began with Karim, at the zoo.