Find out how the man who uploaded Youtube’s first video became a millionaire
More than 13 years ago, “Me at the Zoo” became the first video ever uploaded on YouTube. The 18-second video features Jawed Karim, the site’s co-founder, at the San Diego Zoo standing in front of a bunch of elephants.
Karim had no idea at the time that the video he uploaded on April 23, 2005 to what was initially meant to be a “dating website”, was going to change the world.
Until today, “Me at the Zoo” was viewed more than 52 million times to date.
Karim was born in Merseburg, East Germany in 1979. His father, Naimul Karim, is a Muslim Bangladeshi who works as a researcher at 3M and his mother is a Chemistry instructor at Minnesota University. Karim went to the US in 1992 and studied at the University of Illinois.
He worked with fellow YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen at PayPal, and launched the video site alongside them in 2005.
YouTube, which was originally destined to be a dating website, had very few users at the beginning. It did not give users the option to select videos—instead, it chose them at random, according to Motherboard Vice magazine.
The server used to host the videos cost $100 a month. And because no one used it, Karim was previously quoted by the magazine as saying that he uploaded footage of planes taking off just to fill in space.
“We didn’t have any videos. Realizing videos of anything would be better than no videos, I populated our new dating site with videos of 747s taking off and landing,” Karim said.
“The whole thing didn’t make any sense. We were so desperate for some actual dating videos, whatever that even means, that we turned to the website any desperate person would turn to, Craigslist.”
It’s been a long time since Karim left the site, which was bought by Google for $1.65 billion. Karim, who did not care much about money, got $36.6 million.
He deleted the videos of 747s taking off that he posted a longtime ago, and his Youtube channel is gone. However, the video of himself at the zoo remains on the site as proof of a young boy who had no idea how big this project would later become.