YouTube’s (s GOOG) founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen may have bought the site’s domain back on February 14, 2005, but the first video wasn’t uploaded to the site until several months later. That video, entitled Me at the Zoo, was uploaded five years ago today, on April 23, 2005. The video, shot by Yakov Lapitsky, features third co-founder Jawed Karim talking about the wonders of elephants at the San Diego Zoo.
A lot has happened since that first video made its way to the site. In just a short time, YouTube has grown into the largest video site in the world, with nearly 12 billion video views per month in the U.S. alone — good for more than 42 percent of the total online video market here. Oh yeah, and it also got bought out in a little $1.65 billion acquisition by Google just 18 months after being founded.
Now, five years later, analysts estimate that YouTube could finally turn a profit this year, pulling in an estimated $700 million in revenue in 2010. That’s a lot more than the $5 million in sales that the fledgling startup had generated before the Google acquisition — but then, YouTube has come a long way since being founded as a site primarily used for viewing amateurish user-generated content.
It’s telling that today, the most popular clip of all time that is hosted on YouTube is no longer Charlie Bit My Finger or another piece of user-submitted video, but Lady Gaga’s video for Bad Romance, which, in less than six months, has racked up more than 187 million views.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the video that started it all.
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