...with Karim’s pixelated smirk, begins Mark Bergen’s fascinating Like, Comment, Subscribe, an account of the company’s journey from its humble roots, thrown together in a garage by two college dropouts and a graphic designer, to its world-conquering present — last year it hoovered up $28 billion in revenue...On the surface, YouTube’s story is one of astonishing success: snapped up by Google for $1.65 billion in October 2006, dishing out ad money to more than three million “creators” by April 2012, and today racking up 2.6 billion monthly users around the world...Behind the scenes, though, its journey reads like a two-decade game of Whac-a-Mole with the company trying to suppress crisis after crisis: the $1 billion lawsuit launched by Viacom over copyright infringement; the proliferation of conspiracy theory channels; the frequent appearance of porn in children’s videos; and the constant gaffes of some of the channel’s biggest stars.
Many books that purport to trace the rise of a dazzlingly successful technology company suffer from founder-worship. Mr. Bergen avoids this trap ... This waffling is sometimes apparent in Mr. Bergen’s book ... Mr. Bergen does take pains throughout his book not to insert his own views into the narrative, and for the most part succeeds; vitriol about former President Donald Trump occasionally flares up like a bad case of sciatica, but as a bug not a feature. Where Mr. Bergen does miss the mark is in examining the effect of the ideological monoculture that he acknowledges exists in Silicon Valley—and at Google in particular—and what it means for the decisions YouTube makes regarding content moderation ... Meticulously reported and fluidly written, Like, Comment, Subscribe nevertheless leaves the reader wishing that Mr. Bergen had been willing to do more to answer a crucial question posed by one of YouTube’s early employees and one that still bedevils its billions of users: 'Is YouTube net negative or net positive for society?'
A tech journalist traces how YouTube works—or fails to...Bloomberg reporter Bergen seeks to bring the behemoth into the light...Bergen mostly keeps the story straight, but any account of the company is going to be a tale of barely controlled disarray...That is part of YouTube’s attraction—for better or worse...Powerful insight into a ubiquitous yet still shadowy company.
Despite its cultural ubiquity, most people know nothing about what goes on at YouTube, writes Bloomberg technology reporter Bergen in his intriguing debut...He charts the company’s history, starting with its founding in 2005 by graphic designer Chad Hurley and his programmer friends Jawed Karim and Steve Chen, at a moment when entertainment was shifting from broadcast TV to reality show and eventually MySpace...And the idiosyncratic service has ended up as a microcosm of its own, he writes: 'In a little over a decade, YouTube had evolved... into one of the most dominant, influential, and successful media businesses on the planet'...Those curious about how YouTube got to be the behemoth it is should pick this up.