While Vlogs, DIYs have always been popular, YouTube was the house built on Music and Gaming.

Watch these two videos for a rundown of how YouTube won video and its evolution over the years. Throughout, music and gaming have remained its two pillars.

From 2012, we viewed YouTube as “our most favored nation.” It wasn’t always like that. First, a look at our many company eras, then our phases on YouTube.

Company Eras

2006-08: Those early survival mode years, experimenting and demonstrating our early signs of success (i.e. securing guaranteed revenue, landing Hulu deal before other digital contributors) but not really finding product/market fit, or platform/format fit in our racket.

2009-11: Tinkering stage as we evolved towards factual infotainment programming.

2012-16: Nailed platform/format: lightning-in-bottle hyper growth stage. In 2014, we were the 7th largest channel on YouTube based on subscribers added and views generated.

2017-18: WM2020 where we made ten bets to re-invest, diversify & expand. I could write a book on this phase alone…

2019: Evaluated those bets, streamlined our operations.

2020: The Fruits of our Labor: That re-investment paid off.

Our Phases on YouTube

1- Hyper-distribution (2006-2011). We launched our first channel on YouTube in 2006, and then relaunched formally in 2007… but we frankly just treated the platform like any other, even though Youtube was lapping their peer group:

2- Most Favoured Nation status (2012): After YouTube spent $100 million and totally ignored us, I didn’t manifest a sense of entitlement. I swallowed my pride and engaged them to understand what we needed to do.

3- Rocketship Era and Accelerated Growth (2013 – June 24 2016 aka Hack Day): During this era, we went from 10,000 subscribers to 10,000,000… growing by leaps and bounds while in the rear I fought for fair use. During this period, Google Preferred (YouTube Select today) launched, Truview scorched the earth and killed the competition who was struggling for eyeballs and revenue to offset expensive video, which I referred to as the Afghanistan of the Media World.

4- The Competition Era (July 2016-Labor Day 2017) Greed is good? No, competition is good. Our success drew a lot of competition, which was great. Another post, another day. In fact, subscribe to ContextTV where we will do a whole Business Battleground series on this.

5- The Flight to Quality Era – Brand Safety (Labor Day 2017 – April 2018): maybe it was the Tide pod challenge, but eventually, YouTube realized it couldn’t put its head in the sand by pretending to be a platform only. There was a Brand Safety push and subsequent flight to quality which we benefitted from as well by virtue of proactively trying to set the standards and respect viewers’ time (and intelligence).

6- The Flight to Quality Era – Community Guidelines (May 2018- March 2019): with suicides and attacks at YouTube, the crisis hit home and Youtube upped its game to improve community guidelines. A work-in-progress.

7- The Viewer Satisfaction Era (March 2019- March 2020): YouTube has continued to try to elevate the viewer and advertiser experience, which, also remains a work-in-progress.

8- Information Integrity Era (March 2020-present): After years of claiming to be a platform and thus not responsible for what users uploaded, a combination of election meddling and pandemic misinformation pushed YouTube to act. Again, a work in progress.

Check out the evolution of YouTube, from my keynote at Vidcon.