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The Self-Made Man: Chad Hurley

One mark of a Self Made Man is that they never stop working. Even if it doesn’t work out, or if it’s just for fun and not explicitly a for-profit thing, the entrepreneurs who make the biggest impact on us at TSB always have a project or two going. Chad Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube, is one of those people. He doesn’t wear his ambition on his sleeve like a lot of his dot-com contemporaries—Chad’s casual and down-to-earth, almost to a fault—but in addition to his work at YouTube, he founded Avos Systems, is trying to expand into China with Mei.fm, and has a stake in an unfinished online service called Zeen.

hurley2I, on the other hand, am still in my pajamas and it’s nearly 3:00 in the afternoon.

Hurley has never lacked initiative, though. Born in Pennsylvania, he was a cross-country runner who was interested in both the arts and electronic media, and moved to California to work for eBay’s Paypal division after reading about it in Wired and sending them an email asking to be their web designer. Back in 1999, you could still do stuff like that and get a response.

Hurley worked for Paypal for a while, where he designed their original logo and met Steve Chen and Jawed Karim; together, they would launch YouTube in 2005.

It’s hard to imagine that something as ubiquitous as YouTube had a defined starting point—it’s a bit like imagining the world before McDonalds—but YouTube began in a garage with some startup cash from Sequoia Capital and the tireless efforts of its creators, who saw promise in an online service that let people upload and share videos to a secure server.

They were right to believe in it. Before YouTube came along, sharing videos was a pain, and as Hurley told Net Magazine, existing video sites “were basically just a reflection of the linear television model…making editorial decisions about what was entertaining to the people by programming their homepages and not allowing everyone to participate in the process.” YouTube democratized the video-sharing process, which was bolstered by more people having access to video cameras, and their rapid growth (which I remember quite well, as I was still in college when YouTube started blowing up) was a testament to how well Hurley and co. identified and addressed a need in the marketplace.

And unlike a lot of other fast-growing sites, YouTube hasn’t collapsed under lawsuits (the 2006 sale to Google was done partly to circumvent copyright concerns) or lack of interest. Hurley is still an advisor, but again, he’s got a lot more to do.

In this Google Ventures interview with Kevin Rose, Hurley talks about the early days of YouTube and what he’s up to now, and he’s a great example of what can be accomplished when you stay on your grind and apply yourself.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.

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