Who is Susan Wojcicki?

Susan Wojcicki is a Polish-American businesswoman who currently serves as the CEO of YouTube. Wojcicki, an early Google employee, was also the company’s first marketing manager before later leading its advertising business.

So who is Susan Wojcicki? And how did she come to be associated with Google? Let’s find out more about the woman who was once dubbed “the most important Googler you’ve never heard of” and “the most important person in advertising”.

Early life and education

Wojcicki showed a natural aptitude for business and entrepreneurship from an early age. At just 11, she worked as a door-to-door salesperson selling spice ropes.

With a high-school teacher for a mother and a Stanford University professor for a father, Wojcicki noted in an interview with Fast Company that she and her two sisters “grew up on a college campus” surrounded by academics, scientists, and mathematicians.

These early experiences inspired her to find a career she was passionate about that would also make a meaningful impact on the world.

Later, she studied history and literature at Harvard University and graduated in 1990.

Wojcicki’s family expected her to become an academic and at one point she did plan to earn a Ph.D. in economics, but this plan was foiled by a newfound love for computer science.

Wojcicki earned a Master of Science in economics and later an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998. But her love for tech and how she could influence an emerging internet was ever-present. 

Menlo Park, California

Wojcicki started her career as a management consultant for R.B. Webber & Company and also worked for Intel in the company’s marketing division.

In 1998, she returned to Silicon Valley and rented her parent’s garage in Menlo Park to friends Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Google was incorporated on September 4, 1998, with Page and Brin paying $1700 per month for the space.

While the co-founders soon moved into more expansive premises, they did recognize Wojcicki’s potential and hired her as a marketing manager. 

In the process, she became Google’s sixteenth employee.

Initial years at Google

Wojcicki helped launch AdWords in 2000 – her first significant win for the company – and in 2003 became the product manager for AdSense.

That same year, she managed Google’s acquisition of text processing technology company Applied Semantics.

When Google purchased DoubleClick in 2008 for $3.1 billion, the company became an advertising powerhouse and Wojcicki’s responsibilities increased as a result.

She was ultimately promoted to SVP of Advertising & Commerce and was involved in various other projects such as Google Analytics, Google Image Search, and even the design of Google’s logo.

Wojcicki becomes CEO of YouTube

Wojcicki replaced Salar Kamangar as YouTube CEO in 2014  – a role she still holds today.

During her tenure, she has become known for increasing the percentage of female YouTube employees and is an advocate for more women in tech, coding, and computer science careers.

With five children herself, Wojcicki is also a firm believer in paid parental leave.

Wojcicki’s time as YouTube CEO has not been without controversy, however. Her censorship and demonetization policies have been criticized as heavy-handed, with users’ videos and channels deleted for content that was not in direct violation of the platform’s terms of service.

Key takeaways

  • Susan Wojcicki is a Polish-American businesswoman who currently serves as the CEO of YouTube. Wojcicki was an early Google employee, serving as the company’s first marketing manager before later leading its advertising business.
  • Wojcicki’s family expected her to become an academic and at one point she did plan to earn a Ph.D. in economics, but this was foiled by a newfound love for computer science.
  • While working for Intel, Wojcicki rented space in her parent’s garage in Menlo Park to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They quickly realized her potential and Wojcicki has overseen various products and acquisitions in her two-decade career at the search engine giant.

Read Next: YouTube Business Model, History of YouTube.

More Visual Stories Related to YouTube

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 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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