There are over 7 billion people in the world. 2.8 Billion of them have access to the internet. 1 billion of those people use YouTube each month which means that nearly one out of every two people on the Internet use YouTube.
Knowing the reach of this online video platform really shows the influence that you, as a viewer, can have on pop culture. Since nearly half internet users are on YouTube, that means what viewers choose to watch online have a much larger impact than you think. YouTube is responsible for more than just cat videos, but it is a tool that can create political upheaval, propel stardom, and spur worldwide initiatives. In addition to its larger impacts, it also affects on an individual level, from telling a young LGBTQ individual that it can get better, to simply making a child laugh at his or her favorite morning cartoon.
YouTube plays a crucial role in today’s digital society and it takes an impressive person to manage that power. That person is Susan Wojcicki.
In 2014 Wojcicki (pronounced whoa-jit-ski) became the head of YouTube after a long career advertising within Google. She’s been called the “the most important person in advertising,” “the most important Googler you’ve never heard of,” and ranked in Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and named one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes for the past four years.
Wojcicki has played a role within Google since the literal beginning. In 1998 Google started in Susan Wojcicki’s rented garage. This moment propelled her career and finds her in 2015 as the CEO of their video platform, YouTube. As the landlord of Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brinformer, she became the company’s 16th employee and first marketing manager. She is one of several vice-presidents, but her work puts her in a class above, overseeing 96% of Google’s overall revenue.
At 42 year old Wojcicki not only leads arguably the most powerful platform ever, but she has also played significant roles behind several signature initiatives at Google: AdSense, and its acquisitions of DoubleClick and YouTube. To make things even more interesting, she was one of the leaders responsible for telling Google that YouTube surpassed Google Video and the best solution going forward was to scrap their competing project and acquisition YouTube. In 2006 Google accepted her proposal and purchased YouTube for 1.65 billion dollars. Goddamn.
What I love most about her can be summed up in this quote by Brian Grazer, the writer behind her Time’s 100 article:
Like me, Susan believes in the power of story and knows that everything and everyone has its own narrative that deserves to be told. YouTube aggregates all of those stories, in all shapes and sizes, and makes them available to the world. It sounds simple, but the power of YouTube has made it the most valuable storytelling outlet our planet has ever seen.
I admire Susan Wojcicki for several reasons, one being her role in the impact of online video and the second being her role as a woman. Most CEOs are older white males. That’s an undenied fact. The CEO of YouTube, however, is a 42 year old woman. Wojcicki breaks boundaries and widens global communication every single day in her position and that’s what makes her so influential. It’s clear she understands the full power of YouTube and knows she can push it to an even higher status.
I watched her give the 2014 Johns Hopkins University Commencement Speech and it was amazing to hear of her experiences and journey to where she is right now. I’ve included a link to her speech above. Afterwards there was one thing I was certain of: I really want to be like Susan Wojcicki.