On 24th April, 17 years ago, a 25-year-old man named Jawed Karim posted the first-ever video on YouTube, launching a service that has since grown to become the go-to hub for video streaming. The platform allows anybody with a camera and a good idea to make a fortune from their own content.
The first video, to be honest, wasn’t anything to write about. The low-res, 19-second short video, titled Me at the Zoo, shows YouTube co-founder Karim touring the San Diego Zoo, pointing out elephants’ unusually long trunks. The footage, like most of the early videos that came on the streaming site, lacked the professionally produced touches that are prevalent in the content nowadays.
Jawed Karim Posted the First-Ever video Featuring Zoo on YouTube 17 years ago
In YouTube’s first-ever video, Karim says to the camera, “All right, so here we are in front of the elephants.” “The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long trunks, and that’s cool, and that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
Of course, Karim had no clue when he recorded and uploaded the video that YouTube would become a worldwide phenomenon. And in the years to follow, his video would amass hundreds of millions of views.
YouTube rolled out a public beta of the platform a month after Karim’s video was posted on the site in April 2005, ahead of its official launch in November of that year. Karim left YouTube at the same time to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at Stanford University, but when Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, he earned shares worth tens of millions of dollars.
Karim went on to co-found Youniversity Ventures (now YVentures), a venture capital firm that has backed companies including Airbnb and Reddit. When Youtube makes a certain change to the platform that Karim doesn’t like, then he edits the first-ever clip’s description to express his displeasure. For example, Karim criticized YouTube for removing public dislike statistics last year.
The elephant video has been viewed over 228 million times and has garnered over 11 million comments as of April 2022.