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Larry Page: “I think we should look into acquiring YouTube” (2005) (twitter.com/techemails)
405 points by ent101 48 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 248 comments

Interesting, if unsurprising, to see that a large factor in the interest in YouTube was based purely on location, as well as knowledge of the people working there, their backgrounds, and who specifically they were funded by.

Where you are and who you know often outweighs having the best product, features, etc.

I didn’t get that at all. They talked about the funding round as a signal for what the asking price might be, and then “Mike from Sequoia” because they know Mike and therefore know which partner at Sequoia to reach out to broker a conversation.

As for location. Totally. It was likely critical.

Disclosure: I work at Google.

These very commonly considered success-probability multipliers and derisking factors -- at this stage, the makeup, expertise, and reputations of the individuals leading a company are the biggest success factors. Even if the acquisition fails, having a strong (and nearby) team adds a lot of value to the acquirer.

This was because, in the emails at that time, they thought it would be a 10-15M acqui-hire and to "block yahoo" purchase only.

Yup. There are tons of brilliant Eastern European programmers who can testify to this

All else being equal, Those closest to the money stream are the most likely to succeed.

So basically the only reason they were considering YouTube was to either deny it to their competition, or force their competition to pay more for it.

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.

I think you’re mis-reading the thread. Jeff Huber says YouTube are cranking features, but their backend probably won’t scale and they don’t have good monetization. That ultimately ends up being what they do — after acquiring YouTube, they re-built it using Google’s distributed systems infrastructure and software. And the monetization model today is in fact (mostly) ads.

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.

It seems fairly obvious that what the people are discussing in the linked email thread is anti competitive behavior. Here are some excerpts:

> 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.

When does competition become anti-competitive? If I see a promising startup in my space with challenges ahead, it seems reasonable to consider many different angles, including whether I can help them succeed and whether a competitor could also help them succeed (or they could help a competitor).

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)?

It means the purpose of Google’s acquisition was to limit the market offerings of Yahoo.

That doesn’t sound like _the_ purpose of the acquisition, it was one of the arguments in the conversation but not the sole reason.

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

This thread is hilarious.

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.

That would be clearcut if they had acquired YT and then promptly buried it. Instead, they invested in it massively, and built it over several years into a profitable aspect of their business. That doesn't look "anti-competitive" to me (given the usual assumptions of 21st century US capitalism).

It's not like we have to choose: Google and Yahoo can both have been anti-competitive, so what does it matter if Yahoo did, or didn't, consider things from the same angle?

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.

If anticompetitive behavior could simply be considered "purchasing companies of which you might compete with" we'd see a lot more antitrust lawsuits.

You're assuming anti-competitive behavior doesn't exist based on the premise that it's not prosecuted more often but that is flawed logic. Anti-competitive behavior and lack of prosection are not mutually exclusive.

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.

>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.

(redacted above to help out someone who's apparently been getting spam and hate mail)

Well said. And as [redacted] himself noted in one of those emails, "there are 20 more sites like this that Yahoo could go out and buy". In order for Google to effectively gobble up the competition, they would need to go on a video site acquisition spree far beyond YouTube -- and they didn't. From their behavior, it really does look like Google was buying YouTube because they thought the two companies would complement each other.

(redacted above to help out someone who's apparently been getting spam and hate mail)

I’m saying we only know when behavior is anticompetitive, in the sense that someone undoubtedly acted in a way that violates US antitrust laws, when it’s ruled as such in court. You can have an opinion for if some act is anticompetitive behavior, but you can’t allude to that as fact or create a ”reasonable working definition” when such criteria is already writ in law.

If this was Google in 2016, it would be very notable and your comments would apply. This is all completely irrelevant as anti-competitive behavior is only an issue when a company holds a monopoly, which Google did not have in any way in 2005. In the absence of a monopoly position, anti-competitive behavior is completely normal, expected, standard, and does not even merit the label because it is how businesses grow.

Anti competitive behavior isn't illegal in most circumstances (ie, unless you are a monopoly or conspiring to form a cartel).

Anti-competitive behavior is the normal way businesses operate. It only becomes notable or illegal when they have a monopoly position, which I don’t believe describes Google in 2005.

It reads more like persuading people to go ahead with the acquisition without saying the reality (the dev team was way behind).

2005 Google was very far from a monopoly.

I've worked at companies where people really dislike things not invented here. I don't get it, if you can acquire technology you should.

[Edit: I see the feature quote now] I don't see it.

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.

The second sentence. Sounds like you maybe missed the first screenshot?

I did miss it, thanks. I avoid Twitter, so browsing it on a phone makes it easy (for me) to miss how they stacked the images.

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?

Basically: "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.

> Basically: "YouTube has some nice features but we're already building them and just want the company so Yahoo can't have them."

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"

> That doesn't make this picture look any better for Google.

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.

Wow, thank god we had the geniuses at Google to give them their unique monetization model: ads!

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!

> Wow, thank god we had the geniuses at Google to give them their unique monetization model: ads!

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 was going to go bankrupt without a large reservoir of funds.

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.

Another YouTube would have sprung up out of the ashes, the idea is just too good.

I'm not sure you can have another YouTube outside of an enormously profitable company like Google to bankroll it for years.

>It sounds like they expected it to die on a backroom shelf somewhere if they made the purchase. This seems anti-competitive behavior [...] They didn't see it as valuable for their own needs,

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.

Actually it seems like gp is reading all the emails that came before Larry's

Based on these emails, the very first consideration that sparked their interest-- no matter what came later-- was to deny it to their competition or drive up the price.

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.

One of them wrote something like that, and seemed against the idea on that basis because there were other options Yahoo could go for. That was basically an argument for not doing the deal because it would only, maybe have those effects, but that wasn’t the opinion of the others. Ultimately that’s not why they bought them anyway. So no, not really.

Ultimately that’s not why they bought them anyway. So no, not really

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.

I was at Google during this period, and did a lot of work with YT ads, 2009-2010. Their backend was still Python then; I have no idea about now.

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."

At the time Google tended to destroy companies they bought by insisting they rewrite their product using Google infrastructure.

By the time that was complete, the product had died.

For some reason, YouTube was allowed to keep their infrastructure.

YouTube did rewrite on Google infrastructure - there was a paper they published c. 2008 about how they were leveraging Google's cloud to scale. It was largely back-end stuff; IIRC they moved from MySQL to BigTable, adopted Google's blobstore & CDN, integrated with Google's machine-learning systems, etc. They were allowed to choose which parts of Google's infrastructure they wanted, though. AFAIK the front-end was still Python when I left Google the first time in 2014, and it wouldn't surprise me if it still is now.

"adopted Google's [...] CDN"

Google's CDN was largely written for YouTube.

It is mostly Java now. Backend ones are migrated to C++

It's interesting that Vitess is a thing then


Keeping mysql over bigtable seems like a much bigger deal than the application layer being python vs c++/java/go.

"The front-end was Python..."

"The back-end was Python... ...."


Frontend at Google means something like an HTTP server, not a JavaScript app. Backend is e.g. your API server.

We do have a contradiction here, if that's what you're saying.

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.

I was also not in YT (was in Search from 09-14), but a bunch of my coworkers went over to work there around '10-11. I read the paper before joining Google; I think it came out in 07 or 08.

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.

I remember going to a talk by the Dodgeball founders, a recent acquisition, and thinking "these guys are never going to make it at Google." I was right.


Maybe because they were productive in their own environment (like the email mentioned)? Might be an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality, but I imagine that would've also applied to many other companies they acquired.

> By the time that was complete, the product had died.

Perhaps giving a list of those dead products would be helpful for discussions, modulo those products with merely brand changes.

Not sure if this is what you looking for but look here https://killedbygoogle.com/

YT is migrating more and more low-level infra to Google wide support now. But many core “middleware” infra is still maintained in-house.

> "I think we should talk to them, if nothing else to make it more expensive for Yahoo."

Love this.

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?

YouTube grew explosively between the time of these messages (Nov 2005) and their Nov 2006 acquisition.

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.

Any idea why youtube was “winning” over the other sites? What did they do differently or better?

Or was it just “luck” and better content being uploaded?

I my mind, YouTube did not prematurely optimize.

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.

> Won’t just stop after some time to preserve bandwidth.

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.

Youtube's flash player was massively superior to plugin-based quicktime/windows media/mystery google thing. (Several replies and nobody has mentioned it, it was a huge factor.)

Also you could just name a song and Youtube had the music video - it was the "napster" of video.

Yep, the flash player just worked everywhere.

YouTube was so popular on MySpace (that just allowed you to add random HTML… yeah that was a thing) that MySpace panicked for a while and added some javascript to make youtube videos not “clickable”; you could not click through to the YouTube page, just to play the video.

> why youtube was “winning” over the other sites?


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 later because they were too late to catch up with the network effects.

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.

It was mostly better content, but also it just worked. Many of the other sites didn’t work well. Video sites are actually very complex engineering-wise and have lots of moving parts.

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.

I personally remember around that time that watching a video was pretty hit-or-miss, but YouTube always seemed to work. I've also heard that they focused on supporting the max possible number of codecs for upload, so uploaders were less likely to hit problems as well. I think both of those could have played a large part in their success.

Others mentioned it, but I think a big chunk of it was it "just worked" thanks to their flash-based video player. Everyone already had flash installed, so when they went to youtube video worked. Google video needed some other plugin installed before it would work.

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.

It was trivial for authors to upload a variety of popular video formats/codecs and it 'just worked' in pretty much all web browsers for users.

From my perspective, it was their embeddable video player. You'd see it pop up in other sites, spreading the YouTube name on external sites the web-over. I remember thinking that capability was extremely cool at the time (and built off things like iframe chatboxes and embeddable hit counters.)

YouTube was the only place where I could find pirated uploads of “Lazy Sunday”, so there was that.

I believe lazy Sunday was actually the inflection point for YouTube.. the YouTube version got shared way more than other sites… and (because?) it stayed up the whole time.

One thing I distinctly remember they _weren't_ doing better was letting you just watch your video in piece. The controls were obtrusive and always visible, the background was bright white, and the suggested videos took up a huge chunk of the screen. I don't know how much that may have played to their advantage (by encouraging you to surf new videos) but I remember avoiding YouTube links in favor of basically anything else for a good long while.

I'd consider all of those "bugs" to be features, myself. As they say in French, everyone has gout. The autohiding controls and loss of the always-visible time bar really ticked me off when they happened, and backgrounds other than white annoy the hell out of me.

Well if the name "Throw Away Your TV".com is anything to go by... maybe syllable count.

I was also on Reddit at the time and noticed something funny on YouTube, it'd recommend other videos featured on Reddit because their algo saw unrelated videos being watched by the same group so thought it should recommend the others, although they were irrelevant.

Jeff Huber did not think that. [redacted], the product manager of Google Videos, wrote the 1.5 engineers comment and "we have all of their [Youtube's] features in our q4 plan".

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.


(redacted above to help out someone who's apparently been getting spam and hate mail)

Jeff does react about this downthread, and the feedback from Chris Sacca is also quite interesting:


"I think if we had one more good java/ui engineer we'd be kicking butt vs youtube."

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.

I like how he says "one more" suggesting they had any. Google Video wasnt the prettiest and most usable thing to say the least.

> Gustimated price tag would be $10-15m.

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.

A bigger concern was that by the time of the acquisition it was clear that Google was buying a legal mess in the form of lawsuits that were spinning up from various Hollywood media companies. What wasn't clear (to many of us on the outside, at least) was that Google was prepared to deal with that and not go broke doing so.

I'm basing this on nothing, but at the time I thought Google figured that if Youtube lost the lawsuits it would destroy the video market for everyone, so they bought them with the intention of defending the lawsuits better than Youtube could have on their own.

Yes but the instant Google bought them they stopped burning millions on bandwidth, because even at that time Google had more latent fiber than anyone else. As I've said here dozens of times hardware has been the key to Google's success. Fiber in the ground is a big part of it.

YouTube had peering agreements in place even before the acquisition. And the instant the contract was signed, Google's fiber wasn't near YT's (then) five-six locations, so it was of little use. Actually, in November 2006 YT had a lot more (frontend) egress bandwidth than Google, whose dark fiber was mostly for its internal backbone. It took a couple of years before there was an unified CDN, at which point YT had already grown many times over.

And now it generates 15 billion per year.

Considering it’s de facto global video sharing platform the fact that it’s only 15 billion per year is surprising and makes me uneasy about equity valuation in general in tech space

Looks like it’s closer to 20B in 2020 but it’s also got a different type of competition now (tiktok, like a dozen first class streaming subscriptions & more lower tier options).

I'm confused about why this makes you uneasy. $15B/yr (Assuming profit) is really high.

Interest rates are nearly 0%, it's no surprise to see crazy multiples.

Google has invested a lot on its computing infrastructure (I guess ~20B per quarter nowadays?) and a large part of this should be attributed to YT given the heavy computational nature of video processing. I wouldn't be surprised if cumulative OpEx on YT is several tens of billions after the acquisition.

Isn't that 15 years later with a lot of effort and google's brand and muscle? I wonder how its remaining competitors like vimeo are doing.

I wonder what led up to that. If I were the YouTube founders at the time bleeding millions with no business model, I'd probably have taken the $10 million.

Talking about bandwidth, aren’t we talking anymore about how all those big services clog the pipes by delivering content that users want instead of small websites who deliver content that users want, and how this is unfair and how we should tax the hell of Youtube and Facebook and Netflix for being most of the bandwidth that is consumed?

What's Larry up to now? Instead of using his brilliance to build some new venture he's hiding out off-grid on a private island in Fiji[1] and getting New Zealand residency[2]. Pretty weird stuff to be up to IMHO. Is he smarter than all of us and bugged out for the apocalypse now or something?

[1] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9816787/Google-foun...

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58128475.amp

It's his life.

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?

I'm not criticizing his morality. Billionaires like Larry Ellison buy private Hawaiian Islands, but they mostly go there on vacation and don't just disappear there for months! I'm just asking why Larry? Why are you bugging out like it's the end of the world? Is there something you know that we don't? :/

I find it strange when superrich people don't go on private vacations for months on end.

From Chris Sacca's reply


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 @ev and the Blogger team. Hell, they still checked all of our SAT scores back then.

Is the "Google Video postmortem" mentioned there public anywhere, I wonder. That would be an interesting read.

Strange thought: up until 2010-11 Vimeo was a vastly superior platform in terms of service quality(then Google stepped up the game of course). But it does make me wonder what would have happened if Google had bought Vimeo instead and where would either be today

I remember Vimeo being the service of choice for film students back around then

Two reasons: vimeo offered better quality and at the time youtube videos were limited to a maximum length of 10 minutes iirc.

And here I thought Google used their search data to spot YouTube's relevance before anyone else. Nope.

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.

"Their content quality is worse than ours. They seem focused on home video/community space while we want to be more like iTunes/TV"

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 noticed this with one of my favorite channels, Vsauce… they were one of the pilot channels to be “upgraded” to YouTube Red, back when that was a thing; the series was called “Mind Field”. I never subscribed to it when it was premium, but when YouTube Red shut down it all became free.

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.

To be fair Vsauce ruined itself a long time ago. Obviously the next step for a popular channel is to turn it into a company that churns out content for money, but it kills the charm and quality.

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.

I thunk vsauce has still put out some great content after mindfield but it has been pretty sparse. I think Michael could totally reclaim it but it would take time.

YouTube has been pushing garbage "woke" videos into my feed. I have been having to click not interested on them. I just want to watch the home made construction videos like Essential Craftsman in peace without an ideology being shoved down my throat.

This is also probably just survivor bias at work too. I will say that vsauce still made some good content even after mindfield. I just had to avoid the mindfield stuff.

All channels will eventually burn out and fade, but the youtube model guarantees that there will always be new shiny content.

Which is another way of staying that YouTube will leave a wake of burned out and faded creators behind it.

Just like all social media

Just like all human art and celebrity culture.

We loved the Bee Gees, then we hated them, then we loved them again...

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.


I mean even if love art and artists from thousands of years ago, their celebrity did fade away. But we can still enjoy their best works, same with contemporary artists who produce good shit for a while and then decline (or revert back) into mediocrity.

I mean Pewdiepie still mostly just makes dumb videos of him and gets an absurd number of views, and has over 100m subscribers.

and it's great. Imagine if he had created an incubator for the next generation of let's players or tried to make a media company. It would have been terrible (see: Casey Neistat's 368)

He stuck to his usual content and his margins just keep increasing since there's no added costs for a higher viewerbase.

I don't really understand why some YouTube people go off doing this. What is the value proposition exactly, their success is due to themselves, how do they commodatize that and scale it to a company

> What is the value proposition exactly

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.

This typically comes from chasing after higher sources of recognition/prestige/clout, and it's especially prone to happen when you have a background in the "traditional" industry and saw the whole endeavor of producing Internet content as a stepping stone. "Finally, I can run a proper show with real production values", they say. Emulating an idol is the goal, but there's often no particular benchmark guiding it and their creative role suddenly shifts towards managerial elements, so the final product is invariably worse than whatever they did before. Plus the impulse to do it is pretty much always an indulgence running counter to market trends.

I thought Mind Field was really cool. Obviously a very different feel to the normal vsauce videos but … I dunno, I don't see what's wrong about going that route.

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.

What's interesting is maybe the different incentive structures. I don't know how Derek is doing it, but Wendover seems like to get the funding mainly from Nebula/other sources. In the case of Vsauce, YouTube Red probably has agreements to let outside people manage it to be more "commercially-safe".

I watched some Mind Field and thought it was ok, but thought it was not as engaging as vsauce regular content.

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.

I think I have watched more Alex (French guy cooking) and Guga (Sous vide everything), than I have watched real commercial studio-produced cooking shows.

Check out my name is andong, his Presentation style is incredible.

Babish is a go-to when I need to learn to make something new.

Make sure you check out Epicurious and Ethan Chlebowski


what a fitting name for a cook!

Means bread, isn't it?

Yeah, MacBread for a bad English equivalent.

I know what you mean. I loved Vsauce when it originally came out. I remember getting an “oh! Wow!” reactions with amazing first season when Michael would explain things. Later when it moved, it was all too much fluff and little core material I originally loved. I completely lost touch eventually.

Yeah, many of the YouTube premium series felt overproduced. I wouldn't exactly describe modern YouTube channels as "home video" but it's certainly a different feel from the network TV shows many of the premium series tried to emulate.

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.

I wonder if someone here tried all of the premium stuff like CuriosityStream, Nebula and whats that other one?

I think that's just a result of trying to be more inclusive towards a general audience.

> 16 years later, home video is still the core value of YouTube

Is it? I guess it depends on what you mean by home video. Is it "Me at the zoo"[0], 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.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQXAC9IVRw

"Home video/community space" obviously encompasses independent content creators, wherever and whatever they're creating. I mean, 90% of PewDiePie's videos are him at home. Why does the venue of a zoo define the category? In any case, independent creators going out in the world, zoos or elsewhere, creating content is representative of the divide between big studio content and independents.

I think you misunderstand the difference between “Me at the zoo” guy and Veratassium. It’s not that one is at the zoo while the other isn’t. :)

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.

It's a matter of target audience. Maybe I've misunderstood something, but I thought home videos where made for friends and family, not millions of people.

"Home videos" implies amateurism, maybe candidness? PewDiePie is obviously a professional making video entertainment as a career. That's meaningfully different than a recording of me taking my kids to the zoo.

Venue isn't the defining difference, no. Some combination of intent and skill are. At least thats what I think.

Even in the "people at home" category, all the good channels I can think of have very high quality. They just happen to be about a person talking on or off-camera. AvE and This Old Tony come to mind.

>home video

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.

*Veritasium, as in Veritas latin for truth, hence an element of truth

Is it really home video if a DIY youtuber spends 10's of thousands of dollars on a setup to have high quality production value?

If it's at home, yes. They still have their core values : independence, relatability and risk-taking.

I wouldn't call it "home video", at that point it's more of an independent media production.

The overproduction of "home content" is killing it for me. As soon as Youtubers get a whiff of success suddenly all of the authenticity drops out of the channel and absolutely everything becomes sponsored content.

If you can fake authenticity, you’ve got it made


The word “literally” has no synonyms and if it dies it will leave a massive lexical gap.

Are you afraid for the expressiveness of future English speakers? Fear not, if the word 'literally' no longer had its meaning we'd make a new one to take its place.

The problem is, if I want to use the term "literally" in a literal sense now, nobody will recognize its literal meaning, and everybody will assume it's being used metaphorically. You literally can't use "literally" in the literal sense of the term anymore.

Unfortunately, this very particular pair of meanings is always going to be sabotaged by hyperbole. Not the words, but the actual meanings.

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.

Frankly, too bad. There is no meaningful resistance to this change in language. You can't use the word "awesome" to mean "deeply terrifying" in almost any context anymore and that is okay.

That is okay because you can use the phrase “deeply terrifying”. Languages change in general. I’m fine with that.

This specific change literally has had me pacing back and forth in distress before.

Then use the word nonfiguratively instead of literally.

But you can't use the phrase "quite literally"? or "in a very literal sense of the word", or some variation of those?

If this is what has you pacing in distress, I'm envious.

> I’m envious

Well I’m also getting divorced, for reasons that aren’t entirely unrelated to literal communication.

That's more paceworthy I'd say, at least compared to the natural evolution of language continuing as it has for all of recorded history.

I’m not objecting to the natural evolution of language in general. I’m objecting to the specific loss of the word “literally”.

So you're objecting to the natural evolution of language.

Couldn't you say "in the literal sense"? Until the word treadmill claims that too of course.

Meanwhile, natural language isn't formal language, and people understand meanings of statements just as much as they did yesterday.

If people raise objections, that suggests that they are having issues with understanding. I know I've been confused by it before, and I usually feel compelled to use modifiers to distinguish between 'literally millions' and 'actually, no-exaggeration, literally millions' when I want to be understood.

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.

> I think the position that natural language will just take care of itself is just a touch hand-wavey.

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.

In the last half of the last millenium, we achieved widespread literacy, invented the printing press, made publishing available to the public, and invented the internet. I don't think we can assume the process that worked before this tech will definitely work now.

On reflection, I'd like to retract this. I was reading quickly and didn't understand what I was replying to.

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.

> and people understand meanings of statements just as much as they did yesterday.

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.

The new word is "deadass", and the problem is solved.

That ship has sailed. This usage dates back to the time of Dickens, Brontë, Joyce, etc [1]:

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.

[1] https://www.quora.com/How-did-the-term-literally-come-to-mea...

Sean Hou's answer in that Quora thread is the correct one. The word "literally" never means "figuratively" or "hyperbolically", but it can (like any other word) be used figuratively or hyperbolically. By analogy, someone can dishonestly say "Honestly, I didn't do it," when they did. This doesn't change the meaning of the word "honestly". There are no words in English that cannot be used in a lie, and neither are there any words that cannot be used in hyperbole or metaphor. You can, if you like, dislike hyperbole (I dislike dishonesty!) but there is no use worrying about the meaning of the word.

> The word "literally" never means "figuratively" or "hyperbolically"

Yes it does. The dictionaries have added the second figurative meaning:


The word ‘literally’ is often used figuratively. That is not the same thing as the word meaning ‘figuratively’ in those cases.

They are wrong. Native speakers just don't use definition 2 in a literal way. Maybe this usage will evolve (now that the dictionaries are wrong) but it doesn't explain any of the common usage.

> Native speakers just don't use definition 2 in a literal way.

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.

This usage is indeed very common, but it is always meant and understood hyperbolically, and the meaning of the word relied on by the hyperbole is just M-W's sense 1.

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.
which I think you will agree are not standard usage.

Moreover, if you replace the word "literally" in a sentence like

  "It literally turned the world upside down."
with something that means "not literally", like

  "It figuratively turned the world upside down."
it changes the meaning. The first sentence is hyperbole and the second is awkwardly literal.

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.

Interestingly, there is actually a long history of literally switching back and forth between its original meaning and "figuratively" over the ages. My fiance did his thesis on it!

„He literally did his thesis on it!“ There, FTFY

That’s amazing. I would like to read the abstract

'Nonfiguratively' would work.

and in our era, "disfiguratively", "unfiguratively" and "infiguratively" would likely make an appearance ...

The word verbatim is admittedly a bit latin-tasting, but doesn't it literally mean the same thing? :)

I do not believe that it does.

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.

metaphorically. I assume no geese were killed in that comment

it's literally killing the metaphorical golden goose

They are back into home video with 'Shorts' after TikTok showed them how valuable it is.

The worse thing is that they’re trying to do both. They should just go 100% into something like netflix that’s not related to youtube.

Advertisers of note strongly prefer to put their ads next to the second type of content, not the first.

"one day ... we'll become like iTunes and TV"

The part that's more interesting to me is the "UI/Java" part. It's very hard to think of any consumer web company from that era that iterated on a UI quickly with Java and hit exponential growth.

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 suspect what you're seeing is a bit of "I've got a hammer and everything looks like a nail" in relation to the fancy shiny GWT thing that some teams at Google built at the time. IMHO GWT was an awful toolkit and had a slow and terrible development cycle, but there was a lot of hype about it back then as if it was solving the bridge between dynamic front ends and backends written in Java.

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.

It was not GWT. I worked on it from 2004 (months before launch) to the first couple of years as a live service. It was Java servlets, generating HTML and JavaScript, using some kind of templating system that was in place when I started, taking over from the previous front-end guy.

There was no translating Java to Javascript, which is GWT's thing. In fact there was not that much Javascript involved in the early site, it was generated HTML with a smattering of JavaScript. The goal initially was to look like Google search as much as possible and capitalize on the users familiarity with that.

Pretty sure it was GWT. I joined in 2009 when they were in the midst of the rewrite.

Interestingly the first version of Google Search's frontend was written in Python, based off the Medusa framework. It was replaced by a heavily-optimized C webserver (GWS) written by Craig Silverstein in 1999. The Python -> C rewrite took the frontend server fleet from 30 machines down to 3, and it would've fit on 1 but they needed fault tolerance.

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.

This email seems to be about 6 months before they released GWT 1.0. Their toolkit to compile Java to JS for web UI's. They likely already used it internally by then.

If I remember correctly at the time they also used lots of Java on the backend.

YouTube blew my mind in 2005. Obviously it isn’t practical for a business to lose money forever, but it felt so new and cool when there were no ads.

I uploaded my first video in late 2005, it's still up there.

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.

Same. It's crazy to think people just a few years younger than me probably don't remember a time where there was almost no video on the web.

How they could have such emails?

These are in the public record from the anti-trust case against Google.

Ok, I don't know why I have been down voted for this question.

Because it says this right below the email images: "[This document is from the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee (2020).]"

YouTube’s primary value add for me is music remixes and covers that can’t legally make it to Spotify / Apple music / etc., but skirt around the DMCA takedowns. I try and use it as my primary driver for music but the recommendation engine is just terrible. I listen to days of classic rock and most of my recommendations are still centered around that one EDM song I listened to a week ago. Probably because the ratio of people playing EDM videos with sexy thumbnails to people “watching” classic rock lyric videos is very high. Oh well.

Second this. Youtube works very well as my music discovery medium. The 'long tail' on there is just so rich of nice music. And indeed, I can keep clicking that scarce house song in my recommended videos, but the algo still gives me mostly melancholic Romanian deeptechno or something. Although that seems to got a little better after getting rid of all the ads - and meanwhile other tracking shit - by using uBlock.

> 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

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.

Aren't they doing the opposite: making the bid on Youtube competitive? They would have to outbid Yahoo, giving the Youtube team a competitive price. Buying a valuable asset does not seem anti-competitive to me at all.

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.

Yeah but this is in 08 right? I was under the impression you can do whatever you want if you aren't already a monopoly in the market

Edit: 05

Are defensive buys really illegal in the US in the first place?

In Microsoft's day they were looking to 'knife the baby' and 'cut off air supply'. That was about a decade earlier and nothing too terrible happened to them.

None of that is anti-competitive? It's just business?

Do people generally know the laws of the United States? There are a lot of laws.

OP’s remarks are more accurately paraphrased as “how can the executive of a major tech company leave a paper trail of illegal-sounding things, surely someone so high up is aware of how antitrust laws work.”

OP doesn’t say anything about the general public being aware of the entirety of the legal code.

If you are in the management team working for one of the largest companies in the world, who happen to be based in the US, I sure do hope you know about things like insider trading, anti-competitive behavior and other ills described by US law, otherwise you can put your company in trouble at any time.

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.

Does anyone remember the Revver video site the emails refer to?

I do. I helped build one of these sites. We actually had a "tube" domain before youtube :)

1.5 engineers?

I was the one front-end Java UI engineer and Nikhil (mentioned in the email) was the half. He was a PM who helped out on coding half-time.

The Google Video team was very small.

What does you think of Peter Chane?

Nice guy, knows his stuff.

Google internally has a kind of cultural belief that the company’s engineers are far more capable than most engineers in the rest of the world. It’s fairly arrogant, but some of it is founded on some real advantages around tooling and systems engineering.

IIRC, in that time-frame, Google had (one of) the highest revenue per engineer in the world- arrogant or not, they had good reasons for their self-belief.

So did SGI.

Youtube was like 10 people at the time, so it's not ridiculous given they had the rest of Google's infrastructure to fall back on. Still wasn't sufficient, though :)

Good old days of development.

A Person is working only 50% in That Project/Area due other responsibilities (project management, partial time, shared time with another team or whatever)

I could be wrong but I took it as commentary on seemingly small number of headcount. (Vs fractional nature)

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.

If anything, shows that they were not that committed to even put a resource dedicated to that project

It depends how granular the 50% is. I don't feel much cost from "context switching" overnight if Tuesday and Wednesday are project A time while Monday and Friday are project B time, but it gets to be a problem if I'm context switching hour by hour or taking random calls about A versus B during my normal working day.

Don't know where you work, but you're not switching from cooking to washing dishes.

So yes there's a cost involved and is never a clear cut especially if you run projects in parallel.

As someone who regularly works on a lot of projects at once or regularly context switching, I think this is missing the larger point here. Returns are not magically nothing for someone 50/50 on two projects, but there is of course a cost, and that cost increases with the number of projects, the complexity of the projects, and the pressure for delivery of the projects. It also varies person to person.

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

> Again, person dependent but missing the point. Would have it been more accurate to say they have 1.4327 engineers on the project?

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.

> The rest is just your own imagination ramping up to assume that I meant something else.

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...

Full time equivalent most probably.

I can't even figure out which email to reply to first in 4 minutes. Larry Page, wow

This Twitter is interesting. How and where it gets such mails?

They are from a document provided to the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee (2020).

Thank you. As an non-american it is quite interesting to see those piles of emails are disclosed publicity. I have never heard such cases in Korea.

Should never have been allowed

> they aren’t doing anything where I say “wow they have some big video brains”

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.

Kind of like how Dropbox is sort of trivial, but they largely won by being really easy and really good/reliable. Or even Zoom; everybody can do video chat, but Zoom killed it in terms of UX (...at the cost of security, but even so they did win at UX).

or because they could afford to give away free gigabytes of storage at a time when it was scarce. Zoom OTOH was real good before it became hip

Yeah, I'm unsure of most of the writers so want to be careful not to offend anyone, but the guy who wrote that, and also that G would be ahead of them soon and just needed Java people, AND that he didn't think much of their system and talent...did not seem in tune with reality.

It's hard to remember that period well and put things into context, but if you were there, honestly, Google Video was pretty good. In the very early days Google Video vs YouTube could have been a toss-up. There was nothing particularly compelling about the UX on YouTube (it got much better later). Google Video wasn't amazing UX, but technically it was fine. And had the advantage of getting prime real estate in search results.

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.

Yeah, it has been a while for sure. You make good points, and Sacca kind of touched on a similar note in his reply. Google had thus far been technically correct, and built good tools(email, search). But video is such a different realm...as he said... people just wanted to have fun. And for that technical correctness meant little... it's not a problem you can throw brains at. Even today, look at how TikTok has absolutely crushed others. Even with the power of big G, YT feels stagnant and dated in comparison.

Google Video was decent. But it lacked the social element.

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