I Had The Idea For YouTube Back In 2010

Jack McCullagh

YouTube is one of the biggest sensations on the web today. Chances are you've visited the site numerous times, and maybe you've even uploaded a video of your own. It's such a popular site that practically everyone in the world is tripping all over themselves praising the guys who invented it as "geniuses" and "brilliant innovators" and all kinds of other baloney. Well, you can talk all you want about how far ahead of the curve the YouTube guys were, but what if I told you I had the idea for YouTube back in 2010?

Yes, you heard right. I thought up the concept of a website solely devoted to Internet videos two whole years ago, before anyone even knew what an online video was—way before!


You may find it hard to believe, but all the way back then I was saying people would want to watch videos on a single site. It's true. I was even predicting that web users would like to have access to a large store of videos, watch them all for free, and send out links from their favorite clips to friends. Mind you, this wasn't a couple weeks ago or even last year—I've been saying this for 24 months! No joke.

In fact, I can still remember exactly when the idea first came to me: I was watching a video file on my laptop when it just struck me. I thought to myself, hey, Jack, why not have one convenient online platform where users can watch all the video clips they want whenever they please? Wouldn't it be amazing if such a thing existed?

I even wrote it down to ensure I remembered it: "website with online videos." It felt so exhilarating to come up with an idea so bold, so groundbreaking.

Of course, this was all the way back in the era of 3G, before anyone had ever heard of an iPad 2. But even back then, something inside me told me the future was videos on the Internet. I just knew things were headed in that direction.


That's why it was so shocking when I went online a few months ago and came across this site YouTube. When I saw it, I immediately thought, hey, sharing videos online is my idea! What I was describing two years earlier is exactly what YouTube is doing now. I was like, excuse me, did someone go all the way back in time to the summer before last, take my precise plan, and then put it on the web? I was blown away!

I'm not saying YouTube stole the idea from me. But can you imagine where I'd be right now if I had put in the effort and launched my own YouTube way back then? Wow! More than 4 billion clips are viewed on YouTube each day, and the company is worth billions and billions of dollars. I have to admit, it kind of gets under my skin that I came up with that exact idea and could have had it up online in late 2010 or early 2011.


When you think about it, that could have been my company!

Now, I know exactly what you're thinking: He has to be exaggerating—there's no way he came up with that idea when he says he did. But trust me, it was 2010, I swear. It was right after the series finale of this old show called Lost, during those fraught middle years of President Barack Obama's first term when the nation was mired in a tepid economic recovery.


Or you could just ask my friends, family, or co-workers. Two years ago, I was telling anyone who would listen about my billion-dollar idea. I remember they all just gave me the oddest looks, smiling and nodding at me as if I were a madman.

I guess I probably sounded like I'd lost my mind, yammering on and on all those months ago about how cool it would be to allow site users to comment on videos, replay them as much as they wanted, and maybe even rate them. It may have seemed pretty outlandish then, but now everyone can see just how visionary my concepts were!


Looking back on it, I can't believe I failed to act on such a golden idea when it was still fresh and new in mid-2010. I just wish I'd possessed the wherewithal to see my idea through to reality. I know it would have been tough, but I was still young then, just 37. Now, though, I'm pushing 39, and who knows if I'll ever have another shot at a crazy dream like that again?

That's the way life is, I guess. But next time you're on YouTube, just remind yourself that if Jack McCullagh had his way, you could have been enjoying the wonders of online video two whole years ago. Imagine that.


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