Though YouTube was a popular consumer property, it was far from a given that it would be a viable long term business and many critics thought it was likely to be Google’s first failed acquisition. This meant that most of the team that came on board was “
.” By the time I left in 2014, the team had grown to over 2,000 employees. We had many growing pains through the years, but became well known as a high-performing, fast-moving team.
My initial role was owning the monetization strategy, and over the course of the following years, that scope grew and we settled into a pattern where three of us primarily drove YouTube; I ended up taking on ownership of most of the core tech functions (product, engineering, and UX), Robert Kyncl covered the business functions (content, sales, and marketing), and our boss Salar Kamangar was the CEO. The team we constructed was fairly special and was the key to our success.
Our internal YouTube culture had a few interesting challenges:
Startup / big company melting pot: The company was acquired early and had to adapt to being integrated into Google, an iconic company already well known for its rituals. But YouTube had its own distinct culture and challenges, so while we borrowed many best practices, we also recognized that many of the Google rituals didn’t quite fit.
Hypergrowth: The period from 2008 to 2014 represented enormous hypergrowth—every metric was breaking records regularly, our user base and revenue grew from millions to billions, and our team scaled quickly to keep up. In a phenomenon that Reid Hoffman now describes as “