Wired on YouTube

November 30, 2006

News: Wired’s December issue is on the newstands and it features YouTube on the cover, with a picture of Lonelygirl15. There are 2 excellent articles, (1) one about the YouTube phenomenon and (2) the other about Lonelygirl15. Wired’s website even has a video of the photo shoot with Lonelygirl15 (actress Jessica Rose).


Analysis:  Both articles are great reads.  I recommend both if you follow YouTube.  One thing I still don’t understand:  what exactly was or is the fascination with the Lonelygirl15 character??  I’ve surfed through some of the many Lonelygirl15 videos and yawned.

Google and YouTube’s conference call about purchase

October 10, 2006

Earnings Cast has the audio with Google’s Eric Schmidt, Sergei Brin, and David Drummond, and YouTube’s Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.  Tech Crunch has a summary of the call here.

Also, the official press release is finally up.

Newsweek article on “The Battle over YouTube”

October 2, 2006

News:  The buzz over YouTube continues.  I’ve already chronicled the past week’s stories in Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even Saturday Night Live.  This week’s Newsweek also contains a story, entitled “The Battle over YouTube.” 

Tech reporter Brad Stone asks:  “The video-sharing site is the hottest start-up since Google.  Is it worth a billion dollars, or is it just another company in need of a business model?”

Stone’s article is well worth a read.  He identifies the 2 major challenges for YouTube: (1) handling the copyright issue over unauthorized use of copyrighted content in a way that satisfies the media industries (or at least avoids crushing liability), and (2) developing a sustainable business plan amidst an ever competitive field of video sharing sites. 

Analysis:  I found the most revealing part of the article, the opening paragraph.  Stone reveals just how small the physical operation of YouTube is:

“Warner Music, the fourth largest music company in the world, has every reason to wage business and legal warfare against popular video-sharing site YouTube. The Internet upstart gives its 34 million users free access to songs and videos from the label’s entire stable of artists, including Madonna and Green Day. But instead of hostility, Warner digital-strategy exec Alex Zubillaga says he felt something like sympathy during a recent dealmaking visit to the firm’s Silicon Valley headquarters. YouTube’s 60 employees—who share a grand total of 10 landline phones—are so crammed into small offices over a pizzeria in downtown San Mateo that Zubillaga says, ‘I almost felt bad for them.'”

Google, of course, started in a garage. But YouTube over a pizzeria?  That’s not what I imagined.  Anyways, there’s little wonder why YouTube is hiring.

Saturday Night Live: Dane Cook plugs YouTube in monologue

October 1, 2006

So you know you have buzz when you are the butt of Saturday Night Live’s jokes.  Yesterday was the first Saturday Night Live of the season, hosted by Dane Cook.  Dane gave a hilarious monologue that included a bit about YouTube.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact quote from the monologue.  So this won’t sound as funny as it really was. 

Dane was joking how YouTube basically has every video in existence.  You can pound your fist on your laptop, causing it to hit some gibberish on the screen (like a@/) and you still should be able to find some video with that exact title. 

UPDATE 2:  The actual clip is now on YouTube .  Sorry, YouTube has removed the clip at the request of NBC because it was not uploaded with NBC’s authorization:

Forbes cover story: The YouTube Revolution

October 1, 2006

News:  The October 16th, 2006 Forbes has a cover story on “The YouTube Revolution” with a large photo of CEO and co-founder Chad Henley.  The article recounts YouTube’s young history, starting as an idea between Henley and co-founder Steve Chen conceived after a party with their coworkers from PayPal where they used to work.  The idea sprung after colleagues at the party had difficulty sharing video clips taken from the party — a saga explained here on Charlie Rose.

The article also contains some interesting discussion of the huge interest of established businesses in YouTube as a platform, and the vision of the YouTube founders:  Video democracy is here, [Henley] says, and falling costs of transmission and a growing audience eager for the offbeat have empowered anyone with a laptop to create, review or alter almost any piece of digital entertainment–right up there with the big guys. “Hollywood will always bring great content,” he allows, “but amateurs can create something just as interesting–and do it in two minutes.”

Analysis:  YouTube is a rather simple idea.  Users seem taken with it because it gives them a new outlet to share their own content.  Businesses are taken with it because it’s now one of the websites with the most buzz on the Net.  The Forbes article is just another indicator of that.  Buzz, though, is not a substitute for business.  YouTube is trying to lay the foundation for a sustainable business.

New York Times article on YouTube’s “Video Poker”

October 1, 2006

News:  YouTube continues to generate tremendous buzz.  This week, as I’ll recap in the next few posts, was amazing.  The New York Times wrote a feature article on YouTube here.  Besides the standard fare about YouTube’s growth, the article discusses some of the IP issues:

“YouTube is relying on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which in general does not require Internet companies to screen material they store in advance. Rather, the law says Web sites must remove content when a copyright holder informs them of a violation.

“But there are many who wonder how safe YouTube’s position is. The Supreme Court ruled in the MGM v. Grokster case that music file sharing systems could be held liable for inducing users to violate copyrights. That said, many other mainstream sites, like MySpace and Yahoo, also post videos without trying to screen out copyrighted material. (Most do scan for pornography, though.)

“Yet even Hollywood executives interested in finding a way to work with YouTube are perplexed about how to go about it. They are happy to use YouTube as a free place to distribute movie trailers and TV clips, but users prefer the very best bits of hit shows.

“The yin and yang of working with YouTube is you want to use them as a way to promote our programs but we don’t want to give away the store,” said John Miller, the chief marketing officer of NBC Universal television. NBC has bought advertising on YouTube and uploaded clips promoting shows like “The Office.” And it has also actively demanded that the site take down clips from “Saturday Night Live.”

“[YouTube CEO] Mr. Hurley hopes to be able to solve this concern by offering studios a share of ad revenue as it has for Warner Music. But for now YouTube does not have much advertising revenue. It displays graphical banner ads on some pages and text ads on its search pages. But Mr. Hurley rejects inserting commercials in front of video segments, an increasingly common advertising format.”

Analysis:  I’ll have more to say later on the copyright issues.  YouTube CEO Hurley’s stance on the front ads is commendable for consumers, although YouTube will have to figure out alternative ways to increase ad space just as Google eventually did with its sponsored links, which are separated from search results on the right hand column.

Free Hug Guy and Sick Puppies on YouTube

September 28, 2006

News:  In Sydney, Australia, a guy named Juan Mann goes around the Pitt Street mall with a sign saying “Free Hugs.”  It may sound a little wacky, but apparently it became a small hit until reportedly police shut it down.  Mann organized a petition getting the necessary 10,000 signatures to continue the dispensing of free hugs to the public. 

This week, a video of the hug fest was posted on YouTube and it quickly became a huge sensation.  As of 10 a.m. today, the video had 849,691 hits and 6,149 comments. Yesterday, it was even shown on Good Morning, America.  The clip is quite slick, and synched with music from the band Sick Puppies, who authorized the use (to promote their music?).  (More from the Sydney Morning Herald

Analysis:  At first, the “Free Hug” guy sounded a little creepy to me.  After watching the video, though, I was won over.  First, it’s a slick production and that always help.  Second, when you see the interaction of the guy with all these different strangers who appear to be happy hugging with smiles on their faces, that can’t be a bad thing.  Of course, I’m assuming that what’s on the video is all a true story!

Chicken Noodle Soup dance: how YouTube can help undiscovered talent

September 25, 2006

News:  Two teenagers from Harlem — DJ Webstar and Young B — have a recording contract with Universal Records after being discovered on YouTube.  The duo’s popular rap song “Chicken Noodle Soup” became popular at Harlem teen venues.  It even has its own dance.

Once videos of the song were uploaded onto YouTube, the popularity grew across the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.  (More here

Analysis:  Discovering undiscovered talent provides a benefit to society.  To the extent technology like YouTube can facilitate the process, it should be applauded and cultivated.  The story of “Chicken Noodle Soup” is just one of many examples of YouTube helping to discover undiscovered talent.

As far as the rap and dance “Chicken Noodle Soup” go, it’s a fun tune, but not necessarily one of my favorites. 

U.S. government joins YouTube bandwagon

September 19, 2006

News: The U.S. government just announced that it will be using YouTube to distribute anti-drug videos in its campaign against drug use, especially by teenagers.  John Walters, Bush’s top drug official, said. “Public institutions must adapt to meet the realities of these promising technologies.” (More from Wash Post)

Analysis: This is another sign of the growing popularity of YouTube among legitimate providers of content.  Having the U.S. government use YouTube is absolutely huge, in terms of the legitimacy of the company.  It also makes sense to try to reach teenagers through YouTube, since many spend their time surfing through videos.  One thing that has set YouTube apart from the typical website is that the average user spends a significant amount of Internet time on YouTube.

Lonelygirl15 on YouTube

September 16, 2006

I couldn’t start off this blog without some good news about YouTube.  The New York Times ran several pieces on “Lonelygirl15,” an actress who masqueraded as a teenager in a strict religious family who would share her innermost thoughts on video clips on YouTube.  The clips attracted thousands of viewers. (Articles here and here.)  Turns out it was apparently all a ruse for a commercial project that could turn into a movie.

Despite the ruse, the incident shows some of the promise in YouTube in facilitating the creation of expressive works.