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YouTube celebrates its sweet 16!

In our latest blog, Sam Wright takes a trip down memory lane looking at YouTube over the years. Here's what he had to say:


At Nifty we’re starting the week by saying a big fat happy birthday to social media giant, YouTube. Yes, it’s been 16 years since its official US launch and quite frankly we don’t know where the time has gone!


The video sharing powerhouse was created by three former PayPal employees Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, before being bought by Google in November 2016 for $1.65billion. Since then, it’s gone on to be a social media powerhouse and is now used by more than two billion people worldwide and being a 90s kid myself, it played a big part of my childhood and school years.

Before YouTube came along, I would spend hours and hours downloading songs on LimeWire, infecting the family PC with millions of viruses that would activate random pop-ups every time you tried to simply move your mouse. However, the need to stay up-to-date with latest tunes took priority and the PC just simply had to deal with it.


The arrival of YouTube made our lives so much easier - the combination of the platform itself and the unrivalled YouTube converter meant sourcing your favourite bangers had never been easier and my iPod Shuffle was exactly how it needed to be.


Having said that, YouTube also came at a price, and it meant leaving your computer unattended during an IT lesson would result in one thing and one thing only, you would be Rickroll’d, whether you liked it or not. Now if you’re lucky enough to have never been Rickroll’d and have no idea what I mean, let me explain. The simple combination of three keys pressed simultaneously, or a disguised link that, when clicked, would lead to the man himself, Rick Astley, singing his 1987 hit, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ on your screen - and here’s the best part (or worst, depending on how you look at it), you often had to listen to the whole thing before switching it off. I’m sure I had a detention or two on the back of that craze!


YouTube has also gifted us with some of the most iconic videos of the past decade and a half. You’ll do well to find someone aged 18 and over who doesn’t know exactly what you mean when you say the words, ‘Charlie bit my finger’. I mean, for one the description is in the title, and secondly, this video spread like wildfire, leaving people in fits of laughter all over the globe. In terms of views, the video now stands at almost 900 million and when you take into consideration the fact that it was probably shot on a 2-megapixel camera and received no editing whatsoever, that’s pretty impressive. We even heard that the boys’ parents were able to pay off their mortgage in just a matter of months thanks to the video!


‘Charlie bit my finger’ is just one example of quick and easy videos receiving worldwide recognition thanks to YouTube. There’s literally thousands out there and far too many to list in this blog. Some of the world’s most well-known superstars have also benefitted tremendously from the platform. Justin Bieber was literally found via YouTube by Scooter Braun and Usher - would we even know of the Canadian pop star without it? He also currently holds the runner up spot for the most popular video, with his huge hit ‘Despacito’ second to only, yep you guessed it, BABY SHARK! If Baby Shark receiving over 7.05 billion views doesn’t show how much power YouTube has within the industry, then I don’t know what does.


The power of YouTube is also backed up by the fact that it has now became a job for so many and the word YouTuber is now a well-recognised career choice and a very highly-paid one in some cases. One YouTuber in specific, Ryan Kaji, who is best known for reviewing toys and children’s clothing, made €24 million in 2020 adding to his estimated net worth which stands at around €160 million. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, he’s NINE YEARS OLD. We’re not quite sure what a multi-millionaire of that age spends his money on but you can only admire his success, which has all been achieved before he hits double digits!


All-in-all, we could spend hours talking about YouTube. Its rise was meteoric and 16 years on it remains at the pinnacle of social media, only second in users to Facebook. It keeps us both informed and entertained and will no doubt continue to grow for years and years to come.


I hope you enjoyed the blog and it gave you some great memories, because it definitely did for me, you can’t beat some good old nostalgia!


Now, all that’s left to say is…


HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOUTUBE!


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