Jawed Karim Success Story - How Did He Found YouTube?

Jawed Karim Success Story - How Did He Found YouTube?

Social media has drastically changed the lives of everyone across the globe in the last twenty years. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have connected people and brought them closer. The yawning gulf in terms of geography is now nearly non-existent.

Amidst a huge number of social media and video streaming platforms, YouTube has carved a league of its own as one of the oldest and leading video-sharing platforms. In fact, YouTube is also popularly hailed as the most visited website in the world after its parent organization, Google.

The founders of YouTube were Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, and Steve Chan on February 14, 2005. They are also popularly known as the inventors of YouTube. Jawed Karim is an American software engineer and entrepreneur. He is of Bangladeshi and German descent. Jawed Karim was there with YouTube right from the first ever YouTube video uploaded, the revenue of which was last estimated to be over $29.20 billion in 2022. His contribution to the growth of YouTube is simply indispensable.

Anyone with internet connectivity would have seen videos on YouTube at least once in their life. YouTube is the platform that gave birth to many sensations; without the video-sharing website, there would have been no T-Series, Pewdiepie, CarryMinati, and thousands of other video creators. The current YouTube CEO is Susan Wojcicki, who became the CEO of the American online video-sharing and social media platform in February 2014.

Do you know that the first-ever video posted on YouTube was "Me at the Zoo," which was uploaded by none other than Jawed Karim on April 23, 2005? The first video ever uploaded to YouTube has been watched over 224 million times as of March 2022.

Let's look at the success story of the co-founder of YouTube, Jawed Karim. We will discuss his net worth, education, personal life, investments, and more.

Jawed Karim - Biography

Name Jawed Karim
Born 28 October 1979 - Merseburg, East Germany
Net worth $310 Million
Nationality American/German
Parents Naimul Karim, Christine Karim
Siblings Ilias Karim
Education University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (BS), Stanford University (MS)
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Co-founder of YouTube, Uploader of the first video ever on YouTube
Youtube channel Jawed
Jawed Karim - Founder of YouTube
Jawed Karim - Founder of YouTube

Jawed Karim Education and Early Life
Jawed Karim - Career
Jawed Karim - How he founded YouTube?
Jawed Karim - First YouTube Video Ever
Jawed Karim - Growth of YouTube
Jawed Karim - YouTube Google Acquisition
Jawed Karim - Opposing YouTube's Decisions
Jawed Karim - Awards and Achievements
Jawed Karim - Investments and Partnerships

Jawed Karim Education and Early Life

Jawed was born on October 28, 1979, in Merseburg, East Germany (Present-day Germany), to Christine Karim and Naimul Karim. His father is a researcher from Bangladesh who works at 3M, an American multinational conglomerate (originally known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company), which was founded in June 1902 and headquartered in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States. Karim's mother is a German scientist associated with the University of Minnesota as a Research Professor of Biochemistry. He has one sibling, Ilias Karim, who is younger than Jawed.

Though he was born in Merseburg, Jawed Karim grew up in Neuss, West Germany. He had to cross the border of inner Germany along with his family in the early 1980s due to increasing xenophobia there. However, he had to face several other episodes of xenophobia in Neuss as well, which is why he again had to move with his family to Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1992. It was from Saint Paul Central High School that Karim graduated in 1997.

Jawed enrolled at the University of Illinois in the Department of Computer Science. Jawed left the university before completing his graduation and joined PayPal; he was one of PayPal’s earliest employees. He later completed his graduation and obtained his degree in Computer Science in 2004. Jawed eventually joined Stanford University and earned his Master’s degree in Computer Science, but that was after YouTube was founded.

Jawed Karim - Career

Karim started his career in his university days with an Internship at Silicon Graphics, Inc. He had worked there on "3D voxel data management for very large data sets for volume rendering, which includes the data for the Visible Human Project". However, he soon dropped out of college and joined PayPal, and it was there that he met Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the future co-founders of YouTube, in 2002.

Jawed Karim - How he founded YouTube?

Founders of YouTube - Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim
Founders of YouTube - Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim

At PayPal, he met Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, the other two creators of YouTube. The absence of video clips of Super Bowl XXXVIII and the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami gave Jawed the idea of a video-sharing platform. The controversial half-time segment of the Super Bowl with Janet Jackson was a rage at that time that everyone wanted to have a glimpse of. However, Hurley and Chen have mentioned the website Hot or Not, a rating site that allows users to rate the attractiveness of the photos submitted voluntarily by the users, as the motivation behind creating YouTube. These three people who made YouTube also stated that they had an online video version of a dating site in their minds when they decided to launch YouTube.

Now, if you are wondering whether YouTube was the first video-sharing website on the internet, then it was not the first of these sites. This is because Vimeo was launched in November 2004, before YouTube, but as it was a side project of the developers of the Los Angeles-based internet comedy company CollegeHumor, Vimeo failed to grow that fast.

Top 10 Richest YouTubers in 2023
This article showcases the top 10 richest YouTubers in 2023, who hugely rely on YouTube as their main source of income.

YouTube as a Dating Site and Why it Didn't Work Out!

YouTube, as mentioned before, was originally thought to be set up as an online video dating site, with "Hot or Not" as a major influence for the founders, but that didn't work out well. The founders even tried to post on Craigslist and request attractive women to upload their videos on YouTube in exchange for $100 for each such video post. However, they failed to pivot on the same plan due to the lack of enough dating videos. The website's founders then changed their plans and began to accept videos of all sorts. Whatever may have been the inspiration, we are glad to have YouTube today!

After the necessary measures and steps were in place, the ‘YouTube’ domain name was activated on 14th February 2005. After receiving the funding of $3.5 million from Sequoia Capital, they launched the YouTube beta site in May 2005.

A series of developments followed. The company eventually commenced as a venture capital-funded technology startup. YouTube then continued to receive funding from several other investors, including Sequoia Capital, which poured in $11.5 million, and Artis Capital Management, which funded the platform with another $8 million, the largest of the investors for YouTube then. These fundings massively helped YouTube to scale fast.

Initially, the company was headquartered in San Mateo, California, right above a pizzeria and a Japanese restaurant, before it expanded its headquarters in San Bruno.

The brief history of YouTube and how it gained its popularity over time
Curious in knowing how the largest video-sharing and streaming platform called YouTube became popular? here is the history and step by step growth of YoTube

Jawed Karim - First YouTube Video Ever

The first YouTube channel was “Jawed,” which was created by Jawed Karim, and the first-ever video on YouTube was a video uploaded by him titled “Me at the Zoo.” This video was recorded by his high school friend, Yakov Lapitsky. The YouTube owner's video featured Karim at the San Diego Zoo. The video has more than 293 million views to date.

First Ever YouTube Video - Me at the Zoo by Jawed Karim

Sundar Pichai: The Journey to Becoming the CEO of Google
The journey of Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, is just inspiring. So, Here’s a look at his journey to becoming CEO of Google.

Jawed Karim - Growth of YouTube

In 2005 itself, YouTube got its first one million views video, a Nike advertisement featuring the legendary Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho. The video showed Ronaldinho receiving his pair of “Golden Boots.” YouTube was launched officially on December 15, 2005, when the site was already receiving more than 8 million views a day. However, at the start of the platform, YouTube only accepted videos up to 100 megabytes, which are mostly limited to 30 seconds of video footage.

YouTube's First One Million Views Video - Nike Advertisement
YouTube's First One Million Views Video - Nike Advertisement

NBC-Universal's Saturday Night Live broadcasted a skit named "Lazy Sunday" by The Lonely Island, which was during the same week of YouTube's launch. Thus, it was Lazy Sunday, which quickly started to be unofficially uploaded on YouTube. This not only boosted the ratings and contributed to the long-term viewership of Saturday Night Live but also hugely helped YouTube gain recognition, turning it into one of the earliest viral videos on YouTube. The unofficial uploads of the skit on Youtube rose up to 5 million views when recorded in February 2006, after which it was eventually removed two months later following the request from NBCUniversal due to copyright issues. This paved the way for the Content Verification Program under YouTube’s policy. It allowed copyright holders to identify the infringements easily. After a few ugly spats, YouTube made a deal with NBC. This deal helped NBC enter the world of digital broadcasting. And this was just the beginning of YouTube’s several partnerships with industry bigshots.

Though most of the videos were taken down, the duplicate uploads failed to stop. Instead, they came pouring in, as they were, seemingly to popularize YouTube.

YouTube started to grow really fast, and it was announced in July 2006 that the video-sharing platform was receiving over 65K new video uploads daily. Besides, YouTube also confirmed that it was receiving 100 million video views each day.

Most Subscribed YouTube Channels in the World | 2022
With over 232 million subscribers, T-Series is the most-subscribed channel so far. Here is a list of the most-subscribed YouTube channels in the world in 2022.

Jawed Karim - Youtube Google Acquisition

After launching YouTube, YouTube founder Jawed Karim became an informal adviser instead of an employee to the company as he wanted to complete his studies, subsequently joining Stanford University. Comparatively, he took a lower share in the company than other co-founders, Steve Chan and Chad Hurley.

Much of the time, he remained unrecognized by the general public until Google’s arrival. It was only when The people who created YouTube sold to Google for nearly $1.65 billion in 2006 that Karim was again back in the news and media.

This small share still proved large enough to let him receive close to 137,443 shares, worth around $64 million, at the closing of the famous Google acquisition of YouTube. Currently, Jawed Karim's net worth is $310 million.

Jawed Karim delivered a lecture in the year 2006 at the annual ACM Conference of the University of Illinois on YouTube’s history, which was titled "YouTube From Concept to Hypergrowth." Furthermore, Karim came back to the University of Illinois in May 2008, where he was again selected as the speaker, thereby becoming the 136th and the youngest Commencement Speaker in the history of the school.

Youtube "Broadcast Yourself"

After YouTube was acquired by Google, YouTube users and other content creators looked for another reliable option. Then, the other video-sharing sites tried coming to prominence and distinguishing themselves from YouTube, but they eventually failed to do that with the announcement of YouTube's slogan "Broadcast Yourself." This became the start of the Broadcast Yourself era of YouTube, which helped YouTube see another period of rapid growth. According to a Daily Telegraph report of 2007, YouTube consumed bandwidth that equals the entire bandwidth of the internet 2000. The company soon crossed the milestone of 14 billion video views by 2010 and boasted of holding a market share of 43%. To further boost the growth of YouTube, the platform simplified its interface in the same year, which aimed to increase the dwelling time of the viewers on YouTube.

YouTube crossed another milestone in 2011, namely, 3 billion videos being watched each day, where 48 hours' worth of new videos were being uploaded each minute.  

Jawed Karim - Opposing YouTube's Decisions

In 2013, Google made major changes to its policy. A user needed a Google+ account to post a comment on any YouTube video. The move faced backlash and was widely opposed by the YouTube community. To voice discontent against the new policy, an online petition was signed by a number of users.

The petition gained around 240,000 signatures. The YoutTube founder Karim, too, was not in favor of the policy change; to oppose the Google+ intervention, he updated the video description on his first video to “I can’t comment here anymore, as I don’t want a Google+ account.”

After the protests from the YouTube community, Google apologized for forcing Google+ users to use their real names, and subsequently, Google dropped the policy of integration of Google+ with YouTube. In 2018, Google permanently disabled Google+ services after it failed in both consumer and developer adoption.

Karim also criticized the recent move to remove the dislike count on YouTube. He expressed, "When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, Youtube."

Jawed Karim on YouTube Dislike Removal
Jawed Karim on YouTube Dislike Removal

Jawed Karim - Awards and Achievements

  • Young Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2014) - The Young Alumni Achievement Award is given to recent graduates who have achieved outstanding career success.
  • GITA (Global Indus Technovator) Award (2008) - The GITA award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the technology field.

Jawed Karim - Investments and Partnerships

Karim launched Youniversity Ventures (Y Ventures) in March 2008 in partnership with Kevin Hartz and Keith Rabois. In April 2009, he invested in the initial Seed round of Airbnb Inc. via Y Ventures, his last partner investment, Karim. Jawed became one of the initial investors of the company.

Name of the Company Investment Date Funding Round Investor Total Funding
Airbnb April 1, 2009 Seed Round Y Ventures $600K

Furthermore, Jawed Karim also invested in Formatech on January 31, 2020, which is his last documented personal investment. The investment round was valued at $7 million.

Name of the Company Investment Date Funding Round Total Funding
Formatech January 31, 2020 Seed Round $7 mn

Jawed Karim's other investments include stakes in:

  • Gusto
  • Postmates
  • Truebill
  • Miso
  • Milo
  • Gustav
  • Eventbrite
  • DataFox
  • Circle Medical

Steve Jobs Success Story - The Man Who Made Apple a Billion-dollar Brand
Apple is one of the most successful trillion-dollar brands. But who was the man behind building it? Steve Jobs. Let’s find out more about it.


Jawed Karim’s story is an example of it coming down to identifying a niche and then working on it, and it is undoubtedly inspiring for the entrepreneurs of today. A video-sharing platform may be mainstream today, but that wasn’t the case in the early 2000s. When YouTube came into being, Karim would always be a prominent face of YouTube. Besides, Karim had a major say in many crucial YouTube decisions, including the one to collaborate with companies like Google and NBC, which can undoubtedly be marked as some of the most significant reasons behind the popularity that YouTube enjoys today. No one could fathom that a small video showing a guy introducing an elephant at the zoo would change video sharing and streaming forever!


Who owns YouTube?

The parent company of YouTube is Google. Google purchased YouTube in November 2006 for $1.65 billion in stocks and is currently the company that owns YouTube.

Who is the founder of YouTube?

Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, and Steve Chen are the founders of YouTube.

What was the first YouTube video?

Jawed Karim's "Me at the Zoo" was YouTube's first video that was uploaded on the social media platform.

When was YouTube founded, or when did YouTube start?

Youtube was launched on February 14, 2005. The popular social media platform was founded by Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, and Steve Chen.

How much was YouTube sold for?

Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stocks in November 2006.

Who are Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, and what are they known for?

Steve Chen and Jawed Karim are the co-founders of YouTube and are known for founding the popular video-sharing platform in 2005.

What is Jawed Karim's net worth?

The net worth of Jawed Karim is approximately $310 million as of 2023.

How old is Jawed Karim?

Jawed Karim was born in October 1979 and is 42 years old.

How much is YouTube worth?

The net worth of YouTube is currently estimated to be something around $170 bn.

Did YouTube begin as a dating site?

YouTube reportedly began as a video version of an online dating service, which was influenced by the James Hong and Jim Young-created rating site Hot or Not.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky