Only 2 of YouTube's earliest employees are still at the company — here's what YouTube's first 10 employees are up to now
YouTubehas come a long way since 2005. Back then, YouTube had only 10 employees, plus cofounders Chad Hurleyand Steve Chen.
- Most of YouTube's earliest employees came from PayPal, where Hurley, Chen, and cofounder Jawed Karim met.
- While many have since left the company, others — like business development chief Chris Maxcy and engineer Bradley Heilbrun — are still at
- Chen and Hurley stayed at YouTube until 2011. These days, Chen is an angel investor and lives in Singapore, while Hurley launched a digital sports startup and is a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.
Like many Silicon Valley startups, the early days of YouTube were not exactly a formal affair.
The company's cofounders — Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Chad Hurley — relied on friends from their PayPal days to help them build components of the site. And at first, everyone just met up in Hurley's garage to work on the company. Nearly all of YouTube's early employees had worked at PayPal with the founders.
Over time, YouTube officially incorporated and brought on employees, and moved into an office.
"We never conducted a single interview," Chen told Business Insider. "The entire team was already people who had worked together at PayPal for years and years in the past."
"Whenever I was trying to recruit an engineer, I would be honest with them: 'Whatever it is you want you do, you don't want to regret the opportunity you're missing here. If you come here now, whether it succeeds or not, I can't guarantee anything, it's going to be one heck of a ride you can't find anywhere else,'" Chen said.
The promise ended up being true: YouTube grew to a cultural force that was acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion.
But back in 2005, the year YouTube went live to the world, YouTube was a small team of only 10 employees, plus Hurley and Chen. Here's who was at the company 15 years ago and where they've ended up:
Yu Pan was a cofounder of PayPal, where he met Chen, Karim, and Hurley, and joined YouTube in July 2005 as employee No. 1. He describes the early days of the company as being a "free exchange of ideas," with multiple friends pitching in to help Hurley, Chen, and Karim build the site. He also went to college with Karim and Chen, and has known Chen since high school. These days, he is an engineer at software company Origin Protocol, which was cofounded by early YouTube employee Matthew Liu.
Solomon joined YouTube in 2005 as an engineer. He knew the founders from working at PayPal, where he helped build PayPal's financial system. Gideon Yu, YouTube's first CFO, described Solomon as one of the "unsung heroes of the early days of YouTube" and a "super-genius-type." Solomon is one of the creators of technology that helped YouTube scale. Solomon appears to have left YouTube sometime after 2012, and may have had stints at Yelp and Dropbox.
Hurley, the brother of cofounder Chad Hurley, came on board in August 2005. Hurley wrote on LinkedIn that he "wore many hats and ran finance and operations up until the company was acquired." Hurley went on to become chief financial officer at MixBit, the mobile video startup created by Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. These days, Hurley is an investor and adviser to multiple startups.
Do worked at PayPal before leaving in September 2005 to become part of YouTube's founding engineering team. He focused on software architecture and site scalability, according to his LinkedIn. He worked at Origin Protocol with Yu Pan and Matthew Liu, an early YouTube product manager, before becoming head of engineering at software company Materialize.
Dunton is also a former PayPal employee who joined YouTube in September 2005 as director of product development. She stayed on after YouTube was acquired, leaving in January 2009 to become head of product at Endorse.com, according to her LinkedIn. It's unclear what Dunton is up to these days.
Heilbrun came on board in November 2005 as a systems architect after working at PayPal since 2001. Heilbrun worked at YouTube for over a decade before moving over to Google — he's still at the company working as an engineer, according to his LinkedIn.
Desai is an early YouTube engineer who helped create early YouTube features like comments, related video, playlists, and the watch queue. After YouTube was acquired, Desai became head of YouTube Mobile. He left the company in 2009, but returned as a senior product manager in 2019 after stints at Essential and Samsung, according to his LinkedIn.
Gillette joined YouTube in November 2005 as the company's head of content review. Gillette oversaw content moderation, including copyright and abuse, and oversaw the support team as well. She left YouTube in 2010, according to her LinkedIn, and has since launched a company called DesignerInc, an online marketplace for the interior design industry.
Maxcy was YouTube's head of business development and was instrumental to negotiating YouTube's early licensing deals with record labels and TV studios, according to YouTube's first general counsel, Zahavah Levine. Maxcy is currently in charge of business development for Google.
Brodbeck joined YouTube sometime in 2005, becoming the site's first user interface designer — she writes on LinkedIn that she wore a "wide variety of hats" during that time. She left YouTube in August 2009 and has since become an investor, launching a venture capital firm called Rivet Ventures, an early-stage firm that invests in women-led markets.
Karim is one of YouTube's cofounders. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Chen and worked at PayPal before building YouTube with Chen and Hurley. The first YouTube video ever posted, "Me at the zoo," features Karim. Karim never had a formal role at YouTube — instead, he was an "informal adviser" who did not take a salary or benefits, according to The New York Times. Instead, Karim left for Stanford University, where he pursued a master's degree in computer science. Despite Karim's lower stake in YouTube than Chen or Hurley, he received 137,443 Google shares, then worth more than $64 million, when YouTube sold in 2006.
Karim launched a venture fund in 2008 called Youniversity Ventures, now called Y Ventures, along with Eventbrite cofounder Kevin Hartz and venture capitalist Keith Rabois.
Chen was YouTube's cofounder and original chief technology officer. He studied computer science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before working at PayPal. He built YouTube with Karim and Hurley, selling the company to Google in October 2006 for $1.65 billion. Chen received 625,366 Google shares from the acquisition, worth more than $326 million at the time.
Chen stayed at YouTube after the acquisition, and left in 2009 to explore other options within Google. In 2011, he left the company, and in 2013, he launched AVOS Systems with Hurley. Chen joined Google Ventures, now GV, in 2014. These days, he's an angel investor and lives in Singapore.
Hurley joined PayPal as a designer in 1999 before launching YouTube with Chen and Karim. He served as YouTube's first CEO and kept that role after the acquisition until Google's Salar Kamangar took over in 2010. Hurley received 694,087 shares when Google bought YouTube, plus another 41,232 in a trust — at the time, the shares were worth $345 million.
Hurley officially left Google in 2011 and started AVOS Systems with Chen. In 2014, AVOS pivoted to become Hurley's company, MixBit, a mobile video platform.
Hurley is currently an investor, as well as the cofounder of GreenPark Sports, a digital sports company that makes a mobile game. Hurley is also a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Football Club.
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