YouTube started as a simple idea between three PayPal co-workers in late 2004. A year-and-a-half later, their idea morphed into a $1.65 billion payday and millions of videos being available to the public. The YouTube website was first registered as a domain name on February 14, 2005. After three months of development, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who owned the site, uploaded their first video. (The video was “A day at the zoo” by Karim, and is still available to watch today.)
By November of 2005, the new start-up gained such a large online following that an investment firm threw $3.5 million to the three YouTube entrepreneurs. And by April 2006, they were getting another $8 million from that same investment firm. Fortunately, that investment paid off ... quickly. By the time the summer of 2006 rolled around YouTube was getting upwards of 100 million video views every day. YouTube’s concept of uploading videos to the public was changing the landscape of several industries; including writing, movie-making, news, paparazzi, and even education. And in November 2006, Google invested $1.65 billion into YouTube, retaining its co-founders and 67 employees at Google Headquarters. Time Magazine named YouTube “Person of the Year” in 2006, and PC World Magazine named YouTube the ninth “Most Important Product of 2006”.
Fun Fact: In 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire internet in the year 2000.
Becoming a YouTube celebrity
People have filmed their crazy antics chasing after fame years before YouTube even gained popularity. But since 2006, thousands of YouTubers try to achieve celebrity through their video uploads. So it became inevitable that a few of the most charismatic people transform into full-fledged celebrities.
The most well-known, and now internationally-famous, celebrity to come through YouTube is Justin Bieber. Bieber performed and uploaded his own videos on YouTube when he was only 12 years old. After a few thousand video views, talent managers took notice. 15-year-old Bieber signed a contract on Usher’s music label before he had a million YouTube video views. As a testament to his popularity, Bieber’s first single, “Baby”, boasts 1.3 billion YouTube views.
Other notable YouTube stars include Rebecca Black (known for her one-hit wonder “Friday”), Ted Williams (the man with the golden radio voice), Straight No Chaser (a popular a capella group), Psy (his “Gangnam Style” song and dance took the world by storm in 2012), and Lindsey Stirling (an electronic violinist who is known internationally).
Perhaps fortunately, not every Youtuber is famous for singing. In the case of Bethany Mota, shopping was her game. She became a YouTube household name in 2009 for posting videos of all of the big brand name purchases she made, or “hauls”. Since then, she’s become a style, travel, comedy, beauty, cooking, and positivity guru for over 10 million subscribers. Since word of Mota spread, she released a clothing, accessories, and perfume line through Aeropostale. Mota has been named one of “the most influential teens of 2014". And she's even interviewed President Obama in 2015 for a Whitehouse Initiative to reach a younger audience.
Learning to make-up
One of the biggest industries within YouTube is the make-up tutorial industry. Thousands of make-up artists, models, and young woman have created make-up tutorial videos for viewers. The most famous of them all is Michelle Phan, with over 8 million subscribers, 1.1 billion views, and only 385 videos. She patterned her tutorials after the old Bob Ross painting, for which she gained quick notoriety. She now has a make-up line through L’Oreal named for her mom, Em.
Laughing it up
Grace Helbig boasts a charming personality. She's famous or posting prolific comedy material on her YouTube channel. Helbig is making a lucrative career from her work as a comedian, actress, author, and personality, with over 2.8 million YouTube subscribers. She recently created and hosted her own show on the E! Network named “The Grace Helbig Show.”
YouTube has become such an incredible platform for upcoming entertainment that in 2015, Forbes released the first-ever list of “highest-paid YouTube celebrities”. The number one spot on this Forbes list belonged to a man by the name of PewDiePie, who made $12 million in 2015 by playing video games and uploading those videos onto his YouTube channel. Smosh, a comedy duo, came in at second-place on the Forbes list. Earning $8.5 million through YouTube put both members of Smosh, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, on this Forbes list. And the list of YouTube millionaires continues to grow.