Neal Mohan talks “potential” in first update since becoming Head of YouTube

By 03/01/2023
Neal Mohan talks “potential” in first update since becoming Head of YouTube

On February 16, longtime YouTube leader Susan Wojcicki sent reverberations across the tech industry by stepping down as the platform’s top exec. Two weeks later, her successor has revealed his goals for the coming year.

In his first open letter since becoming Head of YouTube, Neal Mohan outlined some of the initiatives his team is working on. If all goes according to plan, YouTube will shake off the economic doldrums of the post-lockdown era while continuing to roll out new developments to serve its creators and viewers.

Early on in his letter, Mohan acknowledged the “challenging macroeconomic climate” that currently affects YouTube and other big tech firms. YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet, cited the global slowdown when it announced a round of 12,000 layoffs in January.


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Despite adverse conditions, Mohan believes YouTube is well-suited for future growth. He touted the platform’s success in international markets — according to a 2021 Oxford Economics study, YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported two million jobs in 2021 across a dozen major countries.

International creators are also making use of YouTube’s secondary monetization features. Mohan gave a shout-out to Korean creator Jin Yong-jin, who has signed up 30,000 paying viewers through Channel Memberships.

“This is a pivotal moment for our industry. We face challenging economic headwinds and uncertain geopolitical conditions,” Mohan wrote. “I saw YouTube’s strength years ago in its offices above a pizza parlor. Its power comes from a shared sense of community that is more than the sum of its parts. The magic of our platform is that creators, artists, advertisers, and viewers can come together to do something amazing.”

Mohan came to YouTube after Google acquired his former employer, ad platform DoubleClick. Mohan’s digital advertising knowhow served him well at YouTube, and he became the video site’s Chief Product Officer in 2015.

Now, as YouTube’s top exec, Mohan will continue to apply his deep understanding of consumer products. In his letter, he referenced several YouTube features he helped roll out, including an expanded Shorts experience on TVs, live streaming updates, and channel pages that support “multiformat” creators.

Mohan’s roadmap for 2023 includes several initiatives that will assist creators as they expand their operations. YouTube’s new multi-language tracks will foster international expansion, and the continued development of Shorts and podcasts will give creators options as they look to new formats. He also hinted that AI could play an expanded role in YouTube’s future, as it will “reinvent video and make the seemingly impossible possible.”

Though much of his experience has come on the product side of YouTube, Mohan is also well-versed in the platform’s security operations. His September 2022 appearance before the U.S. Congress showed that he and his team are taking YouTube’s community guidelines seriously, especially as big tech draws criticism for its uneven moderation practices.

“Governments around the globe are updating laws and introducing bills that will shape the digital environment,” Mohan wrote in his letter. “We’re aligned with government officials in wanting to create a safe environment online that also allows for a plurality of voices to be heard. That’s why we’re engaged in the debate regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the U.S., which has fueled the work of our creators and gives us the ability to remove harmful content.”

Taken together, Mohan’s priorities show that he sees his company’s “potential,” as he did in its “earliest startup days.” To read his entire address, head to the YouTube Blog.

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