Where you are and who you know often outweighs having the best product, features, etc.
As for location. Totally. It was likely critical.
Disclosure: I work at Google.
It sounds like they expected it to die on a backroom shelf somewhere if they made the purchase. This seems anti-competitive behavior even during what might otherwise be viewed as their "don't be evil" phase. They didn't see it as valuable for their own needs, they just didn't want it to grow into competition itself or via another competitor and so considered buying it to let it die.
What you then see in the thread is someone else saying: yeah we’re going to catch up, we just need a couple of more devs.
And then the counterpoint that well, even if Google doesn’t end up doing it, at least it makes it harder for Yahoo.
The original motivation isn’t just to make it harder for Yahoo. It’s that Huber wants to bring these people on board because they are really good at innovating, and Google can help make it really successful. But there was some pushback, and then other reasons were presented to continue with the conversation.
At these companies (any company?), sometimes to get what you want you have to present a diverse set of reasons, even if only one of them is the principal reason why you want to do something.
Note: I work for Google.
> and were thinking about a acq with Yahoo
> and it would be nice for y! not to have them
> their content quality is worse than ours ... if we pick them up it would be defensive vs yahoo
> I think we should talk to them, if nothing else to make it more expensive for Yahoo
You don't make statements like that and then explain it with "It didn't seem like they would scale and we don't have enough devs". The decision on if the buy YouTube or not (or another video company), was clearly influenced by the "risk" of Yahoo buying the very same company.
Given that Y! was considering buying YouTube, the probability that a similar set of emails was written on Yahoo’s end is approximately 1.
IMO, that’s because they were also competing with Google. Is everyone in that market acting anti-competitively? What would that even mean (absent collusion)?
Given that YouTube has not been killed and Google has heavily invested in it and there were some legal minefields with Youtubes content early on that Google would then take on, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that they didn’t acquire it just to mess with Yahoo
Google only generates revenue to deny their competition that money! Their sole reason to exist is to be anti-competitive! Every time they breathe they're being anti-competitive.
They are literally talking about making a decision on the basis of eliminating a competitor from the market via a purchase they thought might have little/no other value. I think that is a reasonable working definition for examples if anti-competitive behavior.
We don't see antitrust lawsuits for a variety of reasons. One of which is that they are extremely resource intensive to fight since by definition they tend to be fought against massive corporations. When the feds can go after 50 other cases for the cost of going after a single massive company, that's a hard sell.
As to purchasing a competitor: Sure, if you're purchasing it because it adds to your capabilities then it seems fairly straightforward. That's not what we see here. Here, we have an example of purchasing them when, at this stage, Google saw little or no value in it except as a means to limit competition.
You're interpreting the email screenshots incorrectly. I think you need to carefully re-read them and mentally note that there are _2_ different people expressing 2 different opinions: Jeff Huber & [redacted].
- Jeff Huber (Google Ads team): he initially brings up the question about a Youtube acquisition and sees them as additive to Google because he sees their team iterating on new features faster. He perceives the Youtube team as a "passionate" bunch. He also sees value in getting Youtube's assets and existing deals if Google buys them. Jeff sees synergy with buying them because he predicts that Youtube will eventually need a more scalable backend (think of Google's big datacenters) -- and monetization... and as a convenient coincidence... Jeff is in the ads team.
- [redacted] (Google Video team): he pushes back because he thinks his Google Video team will eventually build the same Youtube features anyway by 4th quarter. He's the one who wrote Google acquisition of Youtube purchase would be "defensive".
You're giving too much weight to one person's opinion ([redacted]). However, PC is not the ultimate decision maker for Google to buy Youtube.
Maybe we can use some common sense about [redacted]'s perspective. If [redacted] were to wholeheartedly agree with Jeff Huber, that would mean.... he's admitting that he & his team are not competing as well as those Youtube guys. So it would be understandable human nature for him to think the Youtube acquisition would accomplish nothing but take them away from Yahoo.
It looks like Jeff Huber (and later Susan Wojcicki) championed buying Youtube because of the value there. It seems that [redacted]'s opinion was discounted or ignored. You don't have war meetings about the risks of fighting the multi-million dollar lawsuit with Viacom as a consequence of buying Youtube, and then subsidizing Youtube's money-losing business for years if you saw no value in them.
They're saying it's nothing special-- they're not aware of a significant talent pool and there are "no big video brains".
From there, the first two reasons stated for actual consideration in acquiring YouTube are as a defense or because even talking to them will make it more expensive for someone else to acquire them.
But that doesn't change much about this story: what does it matter that they note features-- already on Google's roadmap-- when they then, as their stated reason for actually buying YouTube, is as a defensive move?
"YouTube has some nice features but we're already building them and just want the company so Yahoo can't have them."
That doesn't make this picture look any better for Google.
That's not what it says. If you want to go that basic:
"Youtube is doing better at innovating here than us, but we have some stuff they don't, and if we acquired them we'd get the best of both worlds and deny it to Yahoo"
Even if you make the case this only anti-competitive there is nothing wrong with that behaviour by 2005 Google. It's not illegal or even significant in anyway.
I don't get it, that first paragraph describes just about every startup ever. And I'm sure had Yahoo acquired it, it would have been "re-built using Yahoo's distributed systems infrastructure and software". Don't you know it, they would have updated the letterhead too!
I think you're forgetting the state of the web in 2005.
The tech to do on the fly pre-roll and mid-roll ads in an existing video didn't exist in 2005, there was no significant market for video advertising on the web in 2005, and web browsers could not play video at all. It was all plugin based. There was no streaming standard. There was no way to circumvent banner ad blocking, too. Sure, that new thing Web 2.0 might help, and XHTML 2 sounds promising, but it's not there yet. To top it off, the main way most users -- even Americans -- connected to the internet in 2005 was still dial-up! So you're a niche market, too.
If your model is "just use ads" then the 2005 response is "okay, but how do you sell dynamic ad views in videos with maybe a couple thousand views? And how do they work?"
YouTube would have suffered a far worse fate in the hands of the extra special incompetent Yahoo organization.
While I might like to see YouTube spun out of Google, Google is the primary reason it survived. Along with bleeding to death financially as one likely outcome, YouTube was going to get sued into oblivion. Google shielded them in terms of liability because Google was fearsome enough to intimidate the overly lawsuit-happy savages in Hollywood and the music industry. That delayed the reckoning that was coming for YouTube in regards to the content on their platform that was under copyright by major media publishers (music in particular). There were dozens of prominent articles written about that specific context back in those years.
I think you're reading too much conspiracy motive into Larry's terse email.
Based on various interviews, Susan Wojcicki was head of Google Video at the time and she acknowledged they were losing against the upstart Youtube. She originally thought Google Video would succeed because Google was "playing nice" by negotiating legal licenses with broadcasters like NBC whereas Youtube was just a bunch of pirated content.
It was a big risk to acquire Youtube because the Viacom piracy lawsuit was looming. Google decided they could handle it and went ahead with the acquisition. They saw the value in Youtube and didn't have any intention of killing it.
Just because upon investigation, YouTube actually seemed to have some value does not negate the fact that their first motive was based upon limiting competition.
That's not relevant to the fact that limiting competition was their very first consideration.
And other competitors were seen as lesser value because of their location, not to mention the fact that the reply to that argument was that just talking to them would still hurt competition by making any acquisition more expensive.
Just because Google ultimately found YouTube to be valuable doesn't change the fact that their first motive was to limit competition.
Memory: I was over there and someone was introducing me to a group of folks and said "he's from Google." I spread my hands around and said "we're ALL from Google."
She said, "No, this is YouTube."
By the time that was complete, the product had died.
For some reason, YouTube was allowed to keep their infrastructure.
Google's CDN was largely written for YouTube.
Keeping mysql over bigtable seems like a much bigger deal than the application layer being python vs c++/java/go.
"The back-end was Python... ...."
I was not in YT. I was only told their backend was Python by people who were. I can't explain that paper OP saw. Could be it reflected reality and I'm wrong; could be it was only a design.
I do know for a fact that they still had their own experiment infrastructure, which does suggest that the backend was still legacy.
There might also be a lot of confusion over "backend" vs. "frontend" terminology. Like the other poster mentioned, "frontend" at Google usually means the webserver and sometimes extends back to various application-level services. Basically everything that involves user interaction. Experiment infrastructure has been part of the frontend in every system I've worked with at Google (which now includes Search, Google+, GFiber, Doodles, AndroidTV, and Assistant), though the flags often get plumbed back to backends to alter behavior there.
By "backend" I mean the storage & offline processing areas. BigTable, Colossus, MapReduce, various blob stores, training machine-learning models, etc. This is the part of YT that (in my understanding) was rewritten to use Google technologies.
Perhaps giving a list of those dead products would be helpful for discussions, modulo those products with merely brand changes.
Another thing: Jeff Huber thought that having 2.5 Google engineers would be enough to outcompete YouTube at the time. Given that they eventually acquired YouTube for over $1B, was that essentially paying for their ~2 best engineers?
I made my Reddit account in Nov 2005, and remember for the first half of that period, YT was just one of several competing video sites, particularly in the shadow of one called throwawayyourtv.com (see https://www.reddit.com/domain/throwawayyourtv.com/ )
Then suddenly by the end of the summer, YT was pulling away from the pack, seemingly unstoppable.
Or was it just “luck” and better content being uploaded?
1. They took full advantage of DMCA and pirated videos made easy home there until copyright notice came in. No technology to try and do it before upload, no pre publish human intervention.
2. YouTube player was just better, especially with most of the globe on dial up. It would let videos buffer for hours until 100%, even if you had a disconnection it would just restart downloading as it should. Won’t just stop after some time to preserve bandwidth. Once downloaded, videos won’t restream and you could easily move on timeline so long as you kept the browser window open. None of their competitors did this as I recall and were preserving bandwidth they would never get to use.
All online video players did this (continue buffer until 100%) at the time. It's the simpler and more naive option.
In fact, YouTube was the first to introduce the feature that it didn't pre-buffer the whole thing to save bandwidth many years later, and it was HUGELY controversial in the geek community.
Also you could just name a song and Youtube had the music video - it was the "napster" of video.
People would upload music videos and embed them on their profile, back when the "Embed HTML" feature was still novel. The player made it easy for users to copy/paste to their own profile, and then network effects kicked and the rest is history.
I was at the parent company at the time and through the News Corp acquisition, and remember the shit show when MySpace first banned YT embeds in late 2005 and again in 2006 ("for security"). Lot of internal bitterness that YT was riding their coattails.
The embedding market was huge.
It’s funny how people forget history so quickly. Even Facebook’s story is simply forgotten. Fb does what google can’t … copy features and products, and cannibalize their own audience when a product is obsolete/outdated.
Google usually tries to copy, but launches as a separate product.
Or they buy and mess it up.
Facebook is good at both integrating acquisitions, and at copying features and leveraging their userbase.
YT beat sites founded earlier (and there were many) because browser, codec, and bandwidth technology just wasn’t ready yet to support decent web video.
YT beat contemporaneous sites, perhaps, because they were (as far as I know) the only one around in early 2006 with serious funding. ThrowAwayYourTV.com, for instance, was just one dude in his 20’s who had another day job.
Additionally, some turned on ads right away, which people hated. There was also YouTube embeds. The site just felt fun.
By contrast, Google Video had very little good content. There wasn’t anything fun about it. Whereas YouTube had a social aspect to it, Google Video felt like a VCR.
It's always struck me as a classic early example of someone coming up with a solution that I'm sure they thought was technically better, but users don't care about that.
The email thread indicates that [redacted] wanted Google Video to win and wasn't listening to Jeff. Jeff then raised the Youtube acquisition with his peers, and then to their CEO.
A year later, [redacted] proposed a deal to link "Flip Video" cameras to Google Videos in the hopes of competing with Youtube's exponential video production. That gambit was squelched by his boss.
Unfortunately, this very attitude continues to be the bane of every large company. Thinking they can throw a body on the problem can make them invincible.
YouTube finally sold for $1b to google. And at that time everyone felt that was an unjustifiable price for a company that was burning millions per month on bandwidth and possibly will run out of cash any time.
Google and their services are indispensable for billions. Doesn't he deserve a personal life where he can do whatever he wants to do instead of being beholden to humanity and serve it with his brilliance forever?
Third, Google was often a place that ascribed little value to people who didn’t have the right degrees and right coding pedigree. For years, the company ignored
and the Blogger team. Hell, they still checked all of our SAT scores back then.
I enjoyed the one guy saying they just need one more front end guy to keep up, but they were estimating $10-15M to acquire the company. Must have been just to keep it away from Yahoo... or maybe they realized there's more to good products than throwing another developer at them.
The whole thing seems so casually uninsightful.
16 years later, home video is still the core value of YouTube, yet they are still trying to push overproduced shows and TV while mistreating original creators.
It's literally killing the golden goose.
I tried watching a few episodes of the ostensibly “higher quality” format of Mind Field, and it was demonstrably worse in most aspects. Bloated, way more filler, way more pointless behind the scenes stuff of the host interacting with the guests, and an overall much slower pace of interesting material. It felt a lot more like a cookie cutter Nat Geo show instead of the denser, faster paced material of Vsauce.
Overall I think that the smaller, self-produced (or minimally produced with small teams) format is the future and I’m glad to see that YouTube is failing to change that despite their efforts.
Should just stick to (relative to big orgs) low budget and take in those views.
Phillip DeFranco's stuff was good until he started a million offshoots and it wasn't personal anymore. Then it was just mediocre unorganic (as in how pop bands are formed by talent scouts) stuff.
My favorite band from that time is ABBA, if only because they totally rocked these cat dresses, which would have made a killing on etsy if the internet existed back then.
He stuck to his usual content and his margins just keep increasing since there's no added costs for a higher viewerbase.
Having a career.
It's very rare for someone to last decades as a performer in the entertainment industry, and online content moves faster than most. You don't want to suddenly have no audience age 35 with zero skills or experience outside making potentially niche YouTube videos.
Derek of Veritasium is trying to go that route by himself. He released some documentaries of his own (which actually were of lower quality than his regular material, I thought).
Wendover is also releasing some long-form documentaries. He's much better at it, actually.
I figured that vsauce is good at making videos he makes. They gave him a cable format & crew and it didn't really translate his appeal.
Someone like Veritasium or Wendover might be able to get very proficient in a documentary format, it sounds like they might have good ideas.
what a fitting name for a cook!
There were a couple premium series that did work out pretty well though, in my opinion. The Slo Mo Guys had a bunch of episodes which were basically just their usual content, but with a higher budget and a team of people available to set up the scenes they were filming. Those videos were excellent.
Is it? I guess it depends on what you mean by home video. Is it "Me at the zoo", or independent content creators like PewDiePie or Veratassium? Compared to Hollywood most if not all Youtube channels are completely different, but when I think of home video and early Youtube I think of personal family trips, not NileRed.
The dude in the zoo video is dab smack in the middle of what i would call “home video”. Some person with a video recoding device points it at their life withouth much thinking about what is that they want to say or how. It’s clearly not a nature documentary, though there are elephants on the picture.
Veratassium videos are much more intentional. The content creator clearly has thought about what they want to talk about, and how they want to talk about it. They hired a camera person and very often special cameras or drones to shoot the best footage to illustrate the content. Each video is a mini documentary about a fascinating topic, with expert interviews, experiments and models.
I think it is a disservice to call this second type of video “home video”. Doesn’t make sense to mix these two together in any sense of the word.
Venue isn't the defining difference, no. Some combination of intent and skill are. At least thats what I think.
I think of Steve Sutton (now Protopod).
I don't know why I watch it, it's just fascinating watching this guy talk about his life. No "smash that subscribe button" nonsense. Just an honest real guy living his life and making videos on youtube.
The word “literally” has no synonyms and if it dies it will leave a massive lexical gap.
Whatever word we have for "this is [truthfully] [adjective]", they're always going to use the word for "truthful" to give something added punch. Specifically in the sense of suggesting a quality has become so extreme that the metaphor is no longer an exaggeration.
Part of it is we humans just love metaphors come to life. Godzilla "literally" was taller than a skyscraper. Superman "literally" was stronger than a freight train. Tolkien was disappointed enough as a kid in Dunsinane forest "coming to life and walking" (by a bunch of men chopping off branches for camouflage, in MacBeth), that he wanted to do a story where the trees literally walked, without any metaphorical fine print.
This specific change literally has had me pacing back and forth in distress before.
If this is what has you pacing in distress, I'm envious.
Well I’m also getting divorced, for reasons that aren’t entirely unrelated to literal communication.
That doesn't necessarily mean we're moving in the wrong direction. Language evolves to satisfy speakers' criteria, so it will gradually improve median utility. But any change is going to have cost, and confusion could be the price we pay for progress.
Alternately, you can imagine a situation where 1% of the population derives a huge amount of utility from a word, while 99% only get a small benefit from another definition. Improvements to the median in that scenario can have negative consequences in aggregate. Or you can see that this particular usage has been confusing people for a hundred years, and the cost of change may outweigh any potential benefit.
I think the position that natural language will just take care of itself is just a touch hand-wavey. Human interests and linguistic-evolutionary movement are often coaligned, but sometimes diverge- the same as with human interests and economic growth.
Why not? It's done just that for countless millenia. Cavemen without Ph.D.'s in linguistics managed to develop languages for communication just fine.
Now, they could be further optimized, sure. But the default of taking no conscious action at all has historically worked out just fine for linguistic evolution.
It is not my belief that, left to its own devices, natural language will become unusable. It is probably true that we can get away with letting nature run its course. I do object to using this as an argument for avoiding optimization, but I don't think I'm in disagreement with the parent there. Apologies for my error.
This is the underlying source of my distress: the fear that my ability to understand and be understood by people will remain as it is.
As Dan Smith has pointed out in his reply to my comment on Mike Ruiz's answer, this usage crossed over into general acceptability quite a while ago, having been employed in works by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, William Makepeace Thackeray, James Joyce and Thomas Hardy, and so on. What might be happening is sort of a "resistance" against this meaning of literally, which people are starting to believe should mean something closer to what it originally did.
Yes it does. The dictionaries have added the second figurative meaning:
Unclear if you meant some kind of irony by using "literal" here, but as a native English speaker I can assure you the second meaning ("used in an exaggerated way to emphasize a statement or description that is not literally true or possible") is frequently used.
Try a twitter search for something like "literally turn the world upside down": https://twitter.com/search?q=literally%20turn%20the%20world%...
Plenty of the people using it are native English speakers and (literally!) using the exact phrase in the dictionary in the way they describe.
To see this, remove the word "literally" from such a sentence. You are generally left with a statement that is still hyperbole or metaphor and not literally true. Which word are you going to redefine in a sentence like "It turned the world upside down." to enable you to interpret it literally? If you understand it as hyperbole, why does adding the word "literally" require any special meaning for that word?
Conversely, if you believe that the word "literally" literally can mean "not literally", in the same way that, say, "cleave" is an auto-antonym, it would authorize statements like
(*) When you use metaphor, you are speaking literally.
(*) What I said was the plain truth, but John took it literally.
Moreover, if you replace the word "literally" in a sentence like
"It literally turned the world upside down."
"It figuratively turned the world upside down."
I understand the desire of lexicographers to document this usage, which is as you say common (and legitimate) and seems to confuse people, but it's just not a different meaning of the word.
Literally is used to distinguish figurative speech from literal speech, while verbatim is used to distinguish exact wording from paraphrasing.
For example, if I had temporarily lost my voice and couldn't talk, and someone texted "want to call", if I replied "I can't talk right now", they would assume I meant I was busy, but if I replied "I literally can't talk right now", that would accurately convey that I was in situation where talking wasn't possible, not merely busy. "I verbatim can't talk right now" is nonsense.
Here is a list of YC startups, and you have to scroll down before you hit anything but Ruby/Python (and C++ for back ends, presumably Go too). But I'd say this is true of all web companies in general, not just YC companies. (You'd probably see more PHP in non-YC companies, and I'd argue it's still more appropriate than Java for this use case)
Aside from the outliers that were GMail and Maps (acquisition), Google had a lot of trouble producing good UIs. Google+ was a good example of UI well below the state of the art at the time.
Notably YouTube was a huge Python codebase ... which Google was already using at the time, but not much for web front ends.
I wasn't even at Google at the time but had management types trying to foist it on me at a company I worked at, and it was frankly a failure. I'm not sure if Google Video was done in GWT, but it certainly had the look of a GWT product.
When I came to Google in 2012 there were still some products using it but it was mostly recognized for being clunky and those products have been migrated.
There continued (and continues) to be a large prejudice against Python for large-scale software projects at Google, even among people who were core members of the Python Software Foundation! I think this is a good example of peoples' mental models of the world ossifying and not understanding how economics have changed. Python continues to be 30x or more slower than C - but it doesn't matter. Computing has gotten so cheap that you just eat the cost, build your product anyways, and then figure out how to optimize after you sell to Google.
If I remember correctly at the time they also used lots of Java on the backend.
I remember Google video was up around that time, and IIRC, the only true competitor. It should be mentioned that back then, the only ting that mattered to me was whether or not you could upload videos, and the site had a video player.
Pre-2005, I can honestly only remember downloading video files directly off websites, and then play them with some video player. I think I used Opera back then, and I think Opera supported some video players - but it was a real hassle, with the different video formats.
I also remember that before youtube etc., unless you had your own server or paid hosting, we'd use our "free" 5/10/15 MB hosting that came your ISP gave you, or other hosting sites provided (they'd usually have some free tier with a couple of free megs).
What we did, was to sign up for multiple such sites, so that we'd in effect get like 100/200 megs of hosting. Sometimes we'd have to chop up the files into multiple zip files, and distribute them over those websites.
Unfortunately, a lot of these smaller hosting sites disappeared over the years, and a lot of files got lost forever.
But yeah, when youtube etc. hit the scene, it was pretty much an overnight revolution. All the pains of sharing / hosting videos were gone.
Holy anti-competitive moly, how can these people talk like this while (supposedly) knowing the laws in the country they operate in? In clear text emails on top of that... Google supposedly has the smartest people working there, but doesn't seem like it's true for management.
I hope they get to pay for this, at least to prove that no companies are too big to get sanctioned for anti-competitive behavior. If they are not, I think we can all conclude that the government has lost all of its spine.
Anti-competitive in my mind is when there is an agreement to not compete, like the Apple-Google case where they agreed to not compete on salaries.
OP doesn’t say anything about the general public being aware of the entirety of the legal code.
Especially if you're in the discussions around acquiring companies. You want it to be very obvious you're not acquiring something in order to fuck it up for a competitor, you want to acquire a company in order to further yourself.
The Google Video team was very small.
If anything, shows that they were not that committed to even put a resource dedicated to that project
So yes there's a cost involved and is never a clear cut especially if you run projects in parallel.
Going back to your original post:
> Yes but doesn't work that way, with context switching cost and all of the rest people who are 50% in one projects are not really that effective.
Again, person dependent but missing the point. Would have it been more accurate to say they have 1.4327 engineers on the project? Probably. Is that helpful when everyone understands what 1.5 actually means? Not really. And two projects is not so unreasonable depending on the situation.
> If anything, shows that they were not that committed to even put a resource dedicated to that project
100% yes to that. And as we have learned since this comment thread, it was not a 50% time situation but actually someone wearing two hats (PM and engineer): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28426523
You're reading too far, this is not the point of my comment?
As you mentioned on the part below I was highlighting that they didn't want to put dedicated resource on the projects. The rest is just your own imagination ramping up to assume that I meant something else.
And yes, we didn't know before that was one engineer doing also PM work. But so said, would've been more effective to have an engineer doing the work and a PM on two projects. Is easier to switch between managing stuff than engineering stuff.
I mean it was a direct claim in your comment I was responding to, literally quoted which is the claim that someone on two project is "not really that effective". I'm simply offering my experiences that don't always match that. That's not my imagination there.
No one here was arguing about that they clearly did not resource it in a meaningful way (I said as much in my post), that's not what this thread is discussing though...
Sometimes I wonder what people in these big-brain companies are thinking. Ay yi yi.
It’s hard to remember now, but YouTube made watching web videos not be an exercise in pain. I know I’m speaking with hindsight here but kind of an obvious value prop.
YouTube's early success I suspect had a lot more to do with them paying fast and loose with enforcing IP rules. It wasn't until a bit after the Google acquisition that they started getting more serious about it.
EDIT: also remember this is an era when Google was actually doing quite well shipping rather geeky and minimalistic invented-by-engineer consumer-facing things. There was no reason to assume they wouldn't do well with Google Video. They had just recently had a lot of success with Gmail. Gchat was a thing. Their calendar was good. They were making some ok stuff.