Who is Jawed Karim?

Born on October 28, 1979, Jawed Karim is an American entrepreneur and software engineer of German and Bangladeshi descent. Karim is one of the co-founders of YouTube and was also the first person to upload a video to the platform in April 2005. In the low-resolution clip titled “Me at the zoo”, Karim briefly talks about the benefit of an elephant’s long trunk. 

Education and early career at PayPal

After graduating from high school in 1997, Karim became a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied computer science. 

During his time at university, Karim was an intern at Silicon Graphics, Inc., where he worked on voxel data management for very large data sets.

His position involved work on the Visible Human Project, an initiative aiming to provide cross-sectional, two-dimensional images of the body to better visualize human anatomy. 

In 2000, Karim received a letter to join a fledgling company called PayPal who was impressed with his work at Silicon Graphics.

He agonized over the decision for two weeks with the realization that accepting the offer would disrupt his studies.

Karim ultimately accepted the position and worked remotely toward his degree under a reduced workload, eventually graduating in 2004.

Karim meets Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Whilst at PayPal, Karim met Steve Chen and Chad Hurley – the two men with whom he would found YouTube in 2006. 

While accounts vary between the founders on how the idea for YouTube came about, Karim recalled that he was inspired after not being able to find the video of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s infamous performance at the 2004 Super Bowl. 

He thus imagined a video-sharing platform where people could easily find the videos they were looking for. The rest, as they say, is history.

Further education and consulting

Karim played an important role in YouTube’s early history, but it was not a project he was overly interested in capitalizing on.

As a result, he decided to continue his education at Stanford University and earned a Masters in Computer Science in 2006. He worked as an advisor to YouTube before it was launched and thereafter became an informal consultant. 

Given his preference to focus on his studies, Karim’s share of the company was much lower than the other two founders. Nevertheless, when YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006, his 137,443 shares were worth about $64 million.

Venture capital firm and philanthropy

Karim founded VC firm Youniversity Ventures (now YVentures) with partners Kevin Hartz and Keith Rabois in 2008.

The firm is perhaps best known for its early investment in Airbnb and other companies such as Reddit, Postmates, and Eventbrite. YVentures also offers consultancy services to promising start-ups in the tech sector.

Over the years, Karim has also been a prominent public speaker on technology-related topics and has expressed a desire to provide consultancy services for early-stage tech companies in countries such as Malaysia.

Key takeaways:

  • Born on October 28, 1979, Jawed Karim is an American entrepreneur and software engineer of German and Bangladeshi descent. 
  • In 2000, Karim received a letter to join a fledgling company called PayPal who was impressed with his work at Silicon Graphics. At PayPal, Karim met Steve Chen and Chad Hurley with the trio founding YouTube in 2006.
  • More interested in obtaining further education in computer science, Karim worked as an advisor to YouTube and then as an informal consultant after it launched. Upon graduating, he founded VC firm YVentures with notable investments including Airbnb and Postmates.

Breaking down YouTube Business Model

YouTube was acquired for almost $1.7 billion in 2006 by Google. It makes money through advertising and subscription revenues. YouTube advertising network is part of Google Ads, generating more than $28B in revenue by 2021. YouTube also makes money with its paid memberships and premium content.

Who owns Google?

The most prominent institutional shareholders are mutual funds BlackRock and The Vanguard Group, with 2.7% and 3.1%, respectively. Larry Page and Sergey Brin together have 51% of the voting power. Other shareholders comprise John Doerr (1.5%), venture capitalist and early investor in Google, and CEO, Sundar Pichai. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has 4.2% voting power. 

YouTube Competitors

YouTube is the most popular online video platform, a hybrid between a video search engine and a social media platform with a continuous feed prompted by social interactions and engagement. The platform is so popular that YouTube.com is the second most visited website. After being acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion, the platform now boasts over 2 billion registered users. Collectively, these users upload 500 hours of video every minute. The platform competes with other video engines like Vimeo and Dailymotion and social platforms like IGTV, TikTok, and Twitch.

Digital Advertising Industry

The digital advertising industry has become a multi-billion industry dominated by a few key tech players. The industry’s advertising dollars are also fragmented across several small players and publishers across the web. Most of it is consolidated within brands like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Bing, Twitter, TikTok, which is growing very quickly, and Pinterest.

Google Business Model

Google (now Alphabet) primarily makes money through advertising. The Google search engine, while free, is monetized with paid advertising. In 2021 Google’s advertising generated over $209 billion (beyond Google Search, which comprises YouTube Ads and the Network Members Sites) compared to $257 billion in net sales. Advertising represented over 81% of net sales, followed by Google Cloud ($19 billion) and Google’s other revenue streams (Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium).

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