YouTube’s Steve Chen looks to replicate Valley-like ecosystem in markets like Saudi Arabia and Taiwan

Steve Chen, Co-founder and CTO, YouTube, spoke to YourStory Gulf Edition about his journey with YouTube and building a Silicon Valley-like ecosystem across the world.

YouTube’s Steve Chen looks to replicate Valley-like ecosystem in markets like Saudi Arabia and Taiwan

Wednesday March 29, 2023,

3 min Read

Anyone who uses the internet would have gone down, or at least be aware of, the YouTube rabbit hole, watching endless number of videos, one after another—be it videos of cats, cars, or famous personalities. One of the creators behind this popular video sharing site is Taiwanese immigrant Steve Chen.

Chen, Co-founder and CTO of YouTube, spoke to YourStory Gulf Edition about the journey of YouTube, its brush with success, and his attempt to build a Silicon Valley-like ecosystem around the world.

He said the idea of the video platform came from a dinner party. “My friend Chad (Hurley), and I couldn’t find an easy way to share videos of the party; since photos were already being shared, we thought sharing videos shouldn’t be a problem,” said Chen, who was in Saudi Arabia for Biban Conference 2023.

And thus began YouTube.

When Chen arrived in Chicago in the United States, he was just eight. Later, while in college, he earned money working at 7-Eleven. He then went on to work for companies such as PayPal and Facebook, before co-founding YouTube.

YouTube had $3.5 million in funding when it was launched in December 2005. And within one year, it garnered over 34 million unique visitors, 100 million videos, and over 65,000 daily videos. And then the company was acquired by Google for a whopping $1.65 billion in 2006.

“Many believe we sold too early, but this was the early days of the internet, and we would keep getting notices from larger publications and video companies. The only way it seemed right to survive was to be part of a larger giant,” said the co-founder.

The acquisition of YouTube has been a big bonus for Google and its parent Alphabet, according to Chen. The video platform contributes nearly 11% of the company’s overall revenue.

Interest in the GCC

Curious about the Saudi Arabian market and the overall landscape and startup ecosystem in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Chen decided to visit the region to see it for himself. Currently, he is working on building a startup for startups.

“I am seeing if we can help regions replicate what Silicon Valley has done in the US across different parts of the world—Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, etc.,” explained Chen.

“There are few components that make Silicon Valley what it is, and that is done by building an ecosystem of successful startups, venture capital, investors willing to take the risk, right product ideas, and even launching it.”

“The Valley has been able to create mafias like the PayPal one, each of which have created successful companies like Tesla, Lyft, Open AI, LinkedIn and, of course YouTube,” he said.

Chen wants to create this kind of network effort and push creation across different regions and countries around the globe.

Image Illustration: Chetan

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Edited by Swetha Kannan