As a part of the freshmen lecture series at the Viterbi School of Engineering, YouTube co-founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley spoke Tuesday to students about their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Hurley and Chen both discussed their time in college and how it affected their experience creating YouTube. Hurley attended the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Chen attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“You need strategy at the end of the day,” Hurley said. “No matter what position you’re in, you need to be creative.”
Chen and Hurley met at PayPal, where Chen served as one of the first product engineers and Hurley was the first user-interface designer.
In 2005, Hurley and Chen co-founded YouTube. Hurley and Chen said their inspiration for creating the popular video-sharing website stemmed from the abundance of videos that came about in the 21st century.
They said the concept of YouTube was to create a place where users could conveniently share videos because the media players of the early 2000s were insufficient and scattered.
At the onset of YouTube’s creation, there was no funding for the project — the only source of finance was Chen’s credit card.
“I was sucked dry,” he said.
As time went on, however, Chen’s investment paid off.
“People started looking to us as a consistent source of video,” Hurley said.
YouTube quickly became a central source of media sharing for people across the planet. At the time, one of YouTube’s main competitors was Google, with its “Google Video” platform.
“We were always afraid of Google because of all the resources they had at their disposal,” Chen said. “We were always trying to be more competitive and more efficient.”
Eighteen months after YouTube’s founding, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion.
“I really don’t think YouTube would be where it is today without the support of Google,” Hurley said.
Until 2010, Hurley served as the CEO for YouTube and until 2009, Chen served as its chief technology officer.
Currently, Hurley and Chen are working together on a new project called AVOS Systems. AVOS Systems’ website describes its mission as “committed to building great products that people use in their everyday lives.”
Some of the websites featured through AVOS Systems include Delicious.com, Zeen.com and Meiwei.fm.
According to Chen, AVOS Systems globalized quickly because it was difficult to find qualified engineers to fill the positions of the company. AVOS Systems’ headquarters lies in San Mateo, Calif., but it has other offices in Beijing, China, and New Zealand.
Chen and Hurley, both in their mid-30s, finished their presentation by advising students to do work that they enjoy.