The career rise of Susan Wojcicki, who rented her garage to Google's founders in 1998 and is now the CEO of YouTube
Dec 31, 2018, 00:08 IST
Susan Wojcicki (pronounced whoa-jit-ski) is 50 years old and a Silicon Valley native.
Wojcicki grew up on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, where her father, Stanley Wojcicki, was chair of the physics department.
Wojcicki's mother, Esther Wojcicki, has taught journalism at Palo Alto High School for more than two decades, where she's mentored notable students like Steve Jobs' daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and actor James Franco.
Wojcicki is the oldest of three sisters. Her youngest sister, Anne Wojcicki, is cofounder and CEO of the genetics company, 23andMe.
Wojcicki attended Harvard University for her undergrad, where she studied history and literature. Years later, she said an introductory computer science course she took her senior year "changed how I think about everything."
Upon completing her MBA in 1998, Wojcicki moved back to the Bay Area, where she bought a 2,000-square-foot house in Menlo Park for $600,000. To help pay her mortgage, she rented out her garage to two Stanford Ph.D. students — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — who were working on their new search engine company called Google.
In 1999, Wojcicki joined the Google team as its 16th employee. Wojcicki was brought on as the company's first marketing manager.
One of her early marketing projects was to liven up the Google logo for holidays and special events. Today, Google Doodles appear daily and are beloved by users.
In 2003, Wojcicki came up with an idea that drastically increased Google's advertising potential: She suggested that Google's ad offering not only be available within search but also on websites and blogs across the Internet. The product became known as AdSense.
By 2006, Wojcicki was running Google Videos. But another free video-sharing website, YouTube, was generating buzz at the time and attracting millions of users.
In October 2010, Wojcicki was promoted from vice president to senior vice president overseeing ad products. At the time, there were only eight SVPs at Google.
By February 2014, Wojcicki replaced Google's ninth employee, Salar Kamangar, as the CEO of YouTube.
In her first year as YouTube CEO, Wojcicki went on maternity leave for the birth of her fifth child. The chief exec wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal at the time, advocating that the US become a leader in maternity leave benefits. "Support for motherhood shouldn't be a matter of luck; it should be a matter of course," she wrote.
Over the years, Wojcicki has been an outspoken proponent for closing the gender gap in the tech industry. "Tech is an incredible force that will change our world in ways we can't anticipate. If that force is only 20 to 30% women, that is a problem," Wojcicki told Forbes in a 2018 interview.
Under Wojcicki's leadership, YouTube has grown to 1.8 billion monthly users — just shy of Facebook's 2 billion user mark. It has also become the most popular social network among teenagers.
In 2018, Wojcicki was ranked No. 7 on Forbes' Power Women list. Her net worth is estimated to be $480 million.