YouTube was founded in February 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were among the first employees of PayPal. According to Wikipedia "Hurley and Chen developed the idea for YouTube during the early months of 2005, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen's apartment in San Francisco." By July 2006 "the site was receiving 100 million video views per day." YouTube was sold to Google in November 2006 for $1.65 billion, a deal by today's standards.
On April 23, 2005, at 8:27 p.m., according to CompsMag, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the very 1st YouTube video titled “Me at the zoo.” The video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky, Karim's high school buddy.
That was Then and This is Now
According to Alexa data, YouTube is now the 2nd most visited website in the world and the 3rd most visited in the US.
According to internal YouTube stats, they now have over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the Internet and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views daily. The last specific number of video views released by YouTube was 2012 where they said they had 4 billion views per day. YouTube video views are likely much higher at this point where video is now mainstream and YouTube videos are routinely found in online news articles, Facebook, Twitter and other social media and are intensely consumed on mobile devices.
There are 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, which is 432,000 hours a day or "approximately 50 years worth of videos."
YouTube is bigger than any cable network in the US and its growth has been accelerating "up at least 50% year over year for three straight years." In fact, the number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% year over year since March 2014. Over 80% of YouTube views are from outside of the US with 88 country versions covering 76 different languages, which includes almost everybody. The time people spend watching YouTube videos is also up, with mobile viewing average sessions now over 40 minutes which is up 50% year over year.
Content producers are also making more money, with partner revenue up 50% year over year for 3 straight years and the number of channels earning $100,000 or more per year also up 50%.
Copyright holders are also earning more YouTube payouts, having paid out $1 billion to rightholders as of 2014 (last data available). YouTube's in-house content team, YouTube spaces, which is "focused on helping creators make great content through strategic programs and workshops largely administered at the YouTube Space production facilities in Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Berlin" is also going well. "As of March 2015, creators filming in YouTube Spaces have produced over 10,000 videos which have generated over 1 billion views and 70+ million hours of watchtime," according to a YouTube posting.
"To date, the most watched YouTube video has approximately 2.2 billion views," Kyle Brigham who is SEM Director at Chicago based Marcel Digital wrote in a 2015 blog post. It is that of Psy’s “Gangnam Style”, the popular hit from 2012. At a distant second is Justin Bieber’s “Baby” at 1.2 billion."
As of this writing "Gangnam Style" now has over 2,606,130,861 views!