Big Idea: Hunter Walk

Hunter Walk, former Google exec, heralds YouTube as an important global classroom, as well as a great place to see funny videos of animals.

"YouTube. That's just dogs on skateboards."

For many years that simple statement was used to summarily dismiss the impact YouTube was having on culture, not to mention our ambitions to help content creators earn money from their videos.

Having been part of the YouTube product team from 2007 until early this year, it was clear that something bigger was happening in our community of 1 billion viewers.

YouTube was quickly becoming not just an entertainment platform, but also a global living room and classroom, a place for education and free expression alongside viral hits.

Changing attitudes
It was an Iraqi who convinced me YouTube's single, worldwide platform was meaningful as a single community, not a sum of markets. I had the chance to visit Baghdad in 2009 with the US State Department.

As part of this technology delegation, we met with a wide variety of constituencies, but since I believe teenage girls are the ones who tell the truth, I was especially excited to meet students. One young woman provided an insight to why YouTube mattered so much.

"It connects me to the world," she said. "Before, I was only able to see what Iraqis cared about - or what we were told to care about. Now I see what everyone else watches."

The Internet has never cared about distance, whether a Web page is served from across the world or next door.

Media had typically stopped at country borders because of business rules and censorship. YouTube was changing that, allowing content creators to discover audiences where they didn't know fans existed.

Diversified options
More than 72 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute - from personal testimonials to Bollywood movies to soccer highlights. When you provide people with choice, especially content that before was unavailable, interest grows.

Saudi Arabia watched the most YouTube content per capita among Internet users in 2011. And in 2012, the only non-music video among YouTube's 10 most watched was Kony 2012. What media company would have guessed that?

On YouTube, your message is global. You don't have to focus on just making people laugh. There's an audience of 1 billion people looking for nutritional content, not just snack food.

Who knows, with more of the world coming online each day, maybe the first video they'll see will be yours. 

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