Hurley was speaking during a keynote interview at the Sage Summit in New Orleans – giving detail on the ways in which technology and content are consumed in the modern era, and how you can use YouTube to build your own brand.
Alongside his fellow co-founders, Hurley founded YouTube in 2005 – then overseeing its $1.65bn acquisition by Google 18 months later. After that, he served as CEO of the business until leaving in 2010.
The founding trio’s inspiration for the company came about while they were all working at payments business PayPal, and stemmed from a desire to create a simpler way of sharing video. He explained that while services such as Flickr were making photos easier to share, the range of media players and video coding requirements meant it was far harder for the moving format.
“We recorded growth by views, and at around one million views a day we knew we were on to something,” he said. “We were asked by VCs to put some numbers together of how big we could become and projected 30m views a day as where we’d level off. Fortunately we were very wrong.”
Hurley believes YouTube has served as a democratiser when it comes to the video experience, with the business not stipulating what could be put up or not.
“Because it was a platform, we got to see the various ways people were using it – from education to business. From a business perspective, you can be as creative as you want – doing adverts or tutorials. It’s valuable for those interacting with products or services.
“What you want to do is make your content feels organic, not overproduced. You want them to relate to the message you are sending out.”
Read more about YouTube:
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- Messi, Bryant and selfies are the secret to ad success on YouTube
When it comes to generating new ideas and concepts, Hurley is in favour of simply using a whiteboard. Sitting down, taking notes and then talking things though with friends or colleagues is valuable, he said.
However, he was quick to impart that it should be about finding a small insight rather than the big breakthrough. He applied this concept to both Google and Facebook by saying that, while Google may now be pioneering driverless cars, it first started with the simple idea that if a website is linking to another it provides relevance. “The algorithm is just about how websites are linked to each other, which crated a better search engine that it was then able to monitise with advertising,” he added.
Facebook, meanwhile, may be dabbling with augmented reality now but it began with the notion of connecting networks that shared a common email address. “The idea that they started with a grand plan or bigger vision isn’t true. It’s about observing small things and building from there.”
Going into the issue of how small and medium-sized businesses can succeed, Hurley revealed that he’d had his fair share of things that didn’t work out. “Even in success there are so many failures. It’s about having that perseverance, believing you are trying to solve that problem and having a team around you to help.
“When we started YouTube we had an idea, but no idea how it would work – we knew nothing about video. It took a lot of trial and error. One of the bigger things to take away is that with any success there are loads of failures, they just don’t get the exposure. Don’t give up trying.”
Throughout the coming days we’ll be bringing you more insight from keynote speakers at Sage Summit, including football business woman Karren Brady and former professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.
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