15 years ago, YouTube was launched as a video dating website
It’s hard to imagine YouTube as anything else than the gigantic online video sharing platform it is today. However, when it was created 15 years ago, it was meant to be something different: a video-dating website.
As revealed by co-founder Steve Chen, the platform was released in 2005 as a way for people to upload videos of themselves talking about the partner of their dreams.
“We always thought there was something with video there, but what would be the actual practical application?” said Chen explained in 2016. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.”
Jawed Karim, also a co-founder, confirmed last year, sharing that: “We even had a slogan for it: Tune in, Hook up.”
“The whole thing didn’t make any sense. We were so desperate for some actual dating videos, whatever that even means, that we turned to the website any desperate person would turn to, Craigslist.”
Yes, YouTube co-founders were offering to pay women $20 to upload dating videos. Thankfully, it did not work, nobody came forward, and the co-founders were forced to pivot and move to a different strategy: “OK, forget the dating aspect, let’s just open it up to any video.”
The rest is history. Karim uploaded the first video. It was simple footage of elephants, 18 seconds of it. Then came uploads of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Those events changed everything.
Within a month, the site was welcoming over 30,000 viewers a day. Within six months, there were over 2 million users on the website every day.
Before the end of its first year, YouTube was receiving 25 million views and seeing 20,000 uploads every day.