The Technical Insight that made YouTube the dominant video platform

October 17, 2013 at 10:35 PM

I remember back in 2005 when YouTube launched. It wasn’t the only site trying to capitalize on the opportunity of online video, but it won because by following an entrepreneurial “wedge” strategy it solved a widespread and specific problem through a single technological innovation.

Back then there were many competing standards for serving online video which meant that no user had all the different codecs (plugins) installed on their computer to be able to watch videos on every website (not to mention it was a pain to install codecs). This meant that there wasn’t a site that was widely compatible for everyone and this prevented all of them from gaining enough traction to be the “go-to” place for online video. However, there was a very popular plugin which wasn’t used for online video at the time but was the most popular for online multimedia: Flash

Enter Chad, Steve and Jawed with the brilliant idea of encoding and serving all uploaded videos in Flash. Suddenly YouTube exploded because it was a video platform that was compatible for many more people and so much easier to use and share. They were the first ones to do this and thus solved the conundrum of online video.

The rest is history, Google acquired YouTube for $1.6 billion dollars in 2006.

Steve Chen, Chad Hurley

Steve Chen, Chad Hurley