YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki ’98 at UCLA

Well, what a Thursday! Twice I was able to listen to Susan Wojcicki ’98, CEO of YouTube telling her story. Written below are my highlights from her Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series presentation in Korn Hall. Or, feel free to watch her presentation here and enjoy for yourself.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998 Opening Slide IMG_4197

Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Series with Susan Wojcocki ’98

Susan opened with some of the “Wow Stats” about YouTube, and the global consumption of video.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998 1B per month  IMG_4198

1 in 7 people on the planet visit YouTube each month

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  400 hours a minute  IMG_4201

400 hours of content uploaded per minute. Can you imagine the server farms?

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  10 years old  IMG_4204

What a first decade!

Susan then got more personal, telling us her journey from UCLA Anderson to her position as CEO.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  First job after UCLA MBA   IMG_4205

Susan gets asked a lot.

Susan’s first post-MBA job was with Intel, and she was quick to acknowledge her respect for Intel still today. But, she didn’t even stay at Intel a full year. She left Intel and it was risky to leave, not just because she was going to a start-up; she was also pregnant at the time. (Susan shared that she is the mother of five children.)

We all know the story of the start-up she left Intel for, Google. She happened to be renting her garage in Menlo Park to these two young men, Larry and Sergey.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  Larry and Sergei  IMG_4208

… because Larry and Sergey rented her garage…

So Susan became employee #16 at Google.

But, how did you get from there to be CEO of YouTube?

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  How to CEO  IMG_4214

“I get asked this all the time,” said Susan.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  Google Video   IMG_4217

In 2005, Susan was running Google Video. Remember that?

Believe it or not, a dominant conversation in 2005 was “Will people voluntarily upload videos of themselves? Is this just a pipe dream to make a video distribution platform?”

During her tenure running Google Video, Susan had an “Aha Moment” when she saw this user-generated video posted online, straight from a dorm room in China. Have you ever watched this one?

Susan didn’t just “like” this video. Her reaction was going to change history [Dylan’s editorial, not Susan’s statement] because her viewing this video became the seed that grew into her championing Google’s ultimate purchase of YouTube, for well over $1B.

Buying YouTube was a second risk that Susan took. And it wasn’t like everyone agreed with her. As you see, the ever-bombastic Mark Cuban has this to say about the acquisition:

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998 Mark Cuban    IMG_4236

Turns out Cuban was inaccurate.

Susan saw that there was something authentic about those lip-syncing college men from China, all the way to the third roommate in the background, who is completely ignoring the whole scene. I mean, who’s never had to ignore roommates before?

YouTube allows for both authenticity and diversity.

Of the top 12 YouTube performers according to view counts, only 3 of the 12 are actually “famous” in a traditional sense (e.g. Bruno and Taylor). The other 12 (e.g. KSI and PewDiePie) have all connected to their global audience via their authenticity, via the platform of video.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  Authentic  IMG_4247

YouTube connects people who would never connect otherwise.

Susan pointed out the incredible diversity of voices YouTube brings together.

20160211 Susan W  Its diverse   IMG_4248

So Susan’s journey has led her to the role of CEO of YouTube… So far.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  New CEO YouTube  IMG_4241

Turns out Mark Cuban was wrong

Susan’s story is one of education, preparation, risk-taking, great luck, more risk-taking and more hard work.

But what’s next? Where is Susan “Thinking in the Next”?

She addressed some “where things are going” ideas.

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998 half are mobile  IMG_4202

Is your company still dealing with transitioning communications from desktop to mobile?

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998 Cord cutting is real  IMG_4244

TV viewing patterns are changing

20160211 Susan W  Video is huge and being remade   IMG_4249

20160211 Susan W  Third World Adoption  IMG_4252

Susan told about video bandwidth requirements being the bottleneck to the next Billion users coming to YouTube.

20160211 Susan W  Third World Adoption SelfMade Airplane Kenya  IMG_4253

And yet in spite of bandwidth limits in the developing world, YouTube is connecting people in new and amazing ways. Here is a young man in Kenya who built a homemade airplane via watching YouTube videos.

20160211 Susan W  Virtual Reality   IMG_4250

Virtual Reality. It’s coming!

20160211 Susan W  Revolution not Evolution   IMG_4251

Speaks for itself. Thus, Thinking in the Next.

20160211 Susan W  Tech as Field  IMG_4255

20160211 Susan Wojcicki 1998  Harvard  IMG_4256

Susan back at Harvard in undergrad. She was a History and Literature major. But took another risk and took a very popular Introductory Computer Science Class, CS50, that launched her love of tech. Remember, it’s not too late for non-techies: Easton Technology Leadership Program is waiting to introduce non-techies to technology-sector opportunities.


Here was Susan, earlier Thursday at the Media Mogul Lunch at UCLA. To her left is Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu and FEMBA 2001.

At the end of the Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Panel, Susan took questions from Dean Olian, from the audience and from Twitter.

20160211 Susan W  Judy and Susan DSS  IMG_4260

Hope this re-created some of the flavor of Susan’s day on campus. It was humbling listening to her. There was, in this author’s opinion, a marked absence of showmanship. She was centered and confident and her results speak for themselves. It was inspiring.

Best day,



PS  Thanks to Britt Benston from UCLA Anderson Marketing. Britt got a signed copy of our brochure for me from our very own Mike Hopkins ’01, CEO of Hulu, after the lunchtime panel with Susan.

20160211 Mike Hopkins signed brochure  IMG_4270

What amazing heights will you and your FEMBA classmates reach?!?  Keep Sharing Success and Driving Change and you’ll find out.





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