YouTube at 15: The inside story of YouTube’s history


  • It’s been 15 years since YouTube launched to the public in early 2005.
  • A year and a half later, it was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion, paving the way for the platform to become the creative haven we know today. 
  • For the site’s 15th anniversary, Business Insider spoke to YouTube’s founders, earliest employees, investors, and early creators to hear how YouTube went from a bustling startup to the multibillion dollar business it is today. 
  • Read the full, untold story of YouTube, the company that would shatter the expectations of what “entertainment” could mean and who could be a part of it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fifteen years ago, there was no iPhone, Facebook was only a year old, and dial-up internet was still fairly popular. At the same time, a company called YouTube began encouraging everyday people to “Broadcast Yourself” — and ended up writing the rulebook for going viral on the internet in the process. 

After 18 months, YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion, making it one of the most lucrative tech acquisitions of the time. Its cofounders and most early employees have moved on, leaving behind memories of when the internet behemoth was still in its infancy.

For the 15th anniversary of YouTube, Business Insider talked to the people who were there before YouTube became a global, cultural sensation. Some of its earliest employees, investors, and cofounder Steve Chen recounted details of its growing pains: Struggling to keep the website running as traffic surged. Working in close, rat-infested quarters above a pizza shop. Burning through cash as they tried to keep up with infrastructure demands and faced copyright lawsuits from music industry executives. Fielding a bidding war between two major tech companies that ended in a 3 a.m. meeting in a Denny’s parking lot.

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In the early days, YouTube was more about creation and community than fame or money. More than 15 early creators told Business Insider about coming to YouTube before it could be a career, storming the platform with a sheer desire to express themselves. They formed a community made up of people who were used to being outsiders in their offline lives who bonded over a passion for creativity.

But back in May 2005, YouTube’s cofounders had only an inkling of what the site would become. Read below for the full, inside story of YouTube, the company that would shatter the expectations of what “entertainment” could mean and who could be a part of it.

‘We had no idea how to do it’: YouTube’s founders, investors, and first employees tell the chaotic inside story of how it rose from failed dating site to $1.65 billion video behemoth

YouTube is 15 years old. Here’s the incredible story of the website’s early days, and how it rose to become the world’s most popular place to watch video

Take a look at the history-making pitch deck YouTube used to secure its first $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital in 2005, and the investor memo that convinced the firm of the platform’s potential

Watch the first YouTube video ever uploaded

7 early YouTubers reveal the moments they knew they made it big

These are the videos that changed YouTube forever, from ‘Lazy Sunday’ to ‘Baby Shark’

The 33 insiders who wield the most power at YouTube



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