In 2016, YouTube is firmly established as online viewers’ first call for music videos, makeup tutorials, and men screaming at games.
But what’s little know is that when it was launched in 2005, the site had a different aim: dating. According to co-founder Steve Chen, it was designed as a way for people to upload videos of themselves talking about the partner of their dreams.
“We always thought there was something with video there, but what would be the actual practical application?” said Chen at the SXSW conference, according to CNET. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.”
Last year YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim also talked about YouTube’s romantic origins. “We even had a slogan for it: Tune in, Hook up,” he told Motherboard.
“The whole thing didn’t make any sense. We were so desperate for some actual dating videos, whatever that even means, that we turned to the website any desperate person would turn to, Craigslist.”
Despite offering to pay women $20 to upload videos of themselves to YouTube, nobody came forward, forcing Chen, Karim and co-founder Chad Hurley to adopt a different strategy.
“OK, forget the dating aspect, let’s just open it up to any video,” said Chen at SXSW. YouTube’s first official video was Karim’s Me At The Zoo. Eighteen seconds of elephants and the rest is history – including a $1.65bn acquisition by Google in 2006.