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YouTube was meant to be a video-dating website
In 2016, YouTube is firmly established as online viewers’ first call for music videos, makeup tutorials and men screaming at games.
But what’s little know is that when it was launched in 2005, the site had a different aim: dating. According to co-founder Steve Chen, it was designed as a way for people to upload videos of themselves talking about the partner of their dreams.
“We always thought there was something with video there, but what would be the actual practical application?” said Chen at the SXSW conference, according to CNET. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.”
Last year YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim also talked about YouTube’s romantic origins. “We even had a slogan for it: Tune in, Hook up,” he told Motherboard.
“The whole thing didn’t make any sense. We were so desperate for some actual dating videos, whatever that even means, that we turned to the website any desperate person would turn to, Craigslist.”
Despite offering to pay women $20 to upload videos of themselves to YouTube, nobody came forward, forcing Chen, Karim and co-founder Chad Hurley to adopt a different strategy.
“OK, forget the dating aspect, let’s just open it up to any video,” said Chen at SXSW. YouTube’s first official video was Karim’s Me At The Zoo. Eighteen seconds of elephants, and the rest is history – including a $1.65bn acquisition by Google in 2006.
Video-dating apps like Tickr, 15 Winks and Charm have yet to prove there was something in Chen and his co-founders’ original idea with photos currently the focus for apps such as Grindr and Tinder.
Long since departed from YouTube, Chen is currently turning his attention away from love to another aspect of sensory life: food. He recently launched a live-video startup called Nom, which will livestream professional and amateur chefs cooking in their kitchens while chatting to viewers.
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