YouTube co-founder Steve Chen recently made our headlines by launching culinary live-streaming platform Nom, but at South By Southwest, he caught our attention for a different reason. During a panel, he revealed that YouTube, in its original form, was meant to be an online dating site.
Video was always intended to be the central focus of YouTube, but Chen and fellow co-founders Steve Hurley and Jawed Karim didn’t know how to best apply that focus. “What would be the actual practical application?” he said at SXSW, as reported by CNET. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.” They followed through on that thought by registering their domain name on February 14, 2005, thus furthering their site’s romantic roots. “Just three guys on Valentine’s Day that had nothing to do,” said Chen.
Chen, Hurley, and Karim envisioned a YouTube where prospective singles would post videos introducing themselves. That model didn’t catch on, and so the three co-founders decided to open up their site to a wide audience. Nine days after that fateful Valentine’s Day, Karim posted “Me at the zoo,” the video that now, more than ten years later, holds the title of “first video in YouTube history.”
YouTube would have obviously been quite different had it maintained its focus on dating, but even in its current form, it has facilitated romantic connections between plenty of couples. PewDiePie, for example, met his girlfriend CutiePieMarzia after she watched and enjoyed his videos. Therefore, it’s fair to say that YouTube’s biggest star is fulfilling the site’s original destiny. Sounds like fate to me.