There's nothing like a good Twitter PR backfire to highlight how satisfying it can be when users take hold of something and flip on its intended purpose. Thankfully, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen didn't take it too personally when users sent him a clear message that the original iteration of YouTube wasn't working. That's right: YouTube was supposed to be a dating site.
Chen admitted at a SXSW conference this year that the initial concept for YouTube involved singles signing up, uploading videos of themselves offering a rundown of who they are and what they want in a partner, and then attracting potential matches via the comments. (Shudder.) Imagine an entire video hosting service just for those cringe-worthy self-tapes that rich, socially inept bachelors force Patti Stanger to screen on Millionaire Matchmaker.
"We thought dating would be the obvious choice," said Chen. The site's original co-founders even went so far as to offer women on Craigslist $20 to upload videos when the site first launched in 2005, not yet hip to the now widely known fact that for-pay seed hotties are the death knell of any dating platform.
“We even had a slogan for it," co-founder Jawed Karim told Motherboard last year. "Tune in, Hook up."
But after five whole days of being live with nary a single single's video (sorrysorrysorry) being uploaded to the site, the co-founders swiftly and smartly course-corrected.
"OK, forget the dating aspect," Chen recalled. "Let’s just open it up to any video."
A year later, they landed a $1.65 billion acquisition from Google, and you could say the rest was history, but that history is now fully searchable on YouTube.
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