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Thursday, April 06, 2006

$8 million for video-sharing site YouTube

The video-sharing Web site YouTube is just over a year old, and has already attracted $11.5 million in venture capital. (The most recent investment, this week, was another $8 million yesterday, from Sequoia Capital, those guys who funded a li'l auction site call eBay. YouTube currently has a collection of 35 million short-form videos, 9 million visitors a month, and just 20 employees. Not bad at all. (Google Video, by comparison, attracts just 6.2 million people per month.


If you haven't been to YouTube before, it's worth having a look at what people are uploading and watching. Here's the page of most-viewed videos, a great indicator of what works on YouTube. (Note the tags on the right side of the page - a way for users to categorize the videos they upload.)


Here's a recent piece from BusinessWeek, which says that "YouTube could be a new NBC -- or another Napster."


The company's founders used to work at PayPal, which eBay acquired. Co-founder Chad Hurley told me last year that they all had these cell phones and digital cameras that could shoot video, but there was no easy way to share it. "We have parents on the east coast and in the Chicago area, and we wanted to make something that everyone could use easily," he said. Putting advertising in front of the video clips before you watch them is an obvious business model, but Hurley told me, "We want to give the users ways to control how we make money on the product through advertising. We don't want to create the force-fed advertising culture that some large sites have."


Hurley mentioned that they'd been shooting video of the genesis of the company - it started in a garage, don't you know. Those'd be fun to see - and maybe one day fodder for the classes at Stanford Business School.