Lesson #4: Timing is Everything to the Entrepreneur
YouTube was not just about watching and sharing videos online. What made YouTube so successful was Hurley and Chen’s ability to take advantage of the changing environmental factors in which they found themselves. They understood that timing was everything, and that if they did not take advantage of the changing times, somebody else would.
When Hurley and Chen were first trying to come up with the idea for a business, they took into account a number of external factors that could potentially have an effect. First, for instance, was the fact that bandwidth was becoming both cheaper and faster. Just a few years ago, it would nave been next to impossible to achieve YouTube’s success in terms of its capacity to host videos and the size of its audience. There simply would not have been the bandwidth to support it. But, Hurley and Chen realized that bandwidth would soon not be an issue, and decided to use that to their advantage.
Hurley and Chen also realized that technology for the individual and amateur video producers was become much more accessible, both in terms of cost and ease of use. Not only were digital cameras becoming less expensive, but they could also now be directly connected to personal computers thanks to USB. As more and more cell phones became equipped with their own mini video cameras, so too were there more and more people able to take videos out there. Hurley and Chen wanted to capitalize on this trend.
The growth of online social networks was also an important trend that Hurley and Chen wanted to be a part of. They witnessed the massive growth of such sites as MySpace and wondered how they could leverage that growth to their advantage. Instead of building their own social networking site, Hurley and Chen wanted to take advantage of those that were already out there. To that end, they made it easy for members of those sites to embed YouTube videos on their pages. They worked with those companies that were already out there, instead of trying to go against them.
As an increasing number of people were buying personal computers, so too were those personal computers being pre-installed with Macromedia Flash 7, with video playback capabilities. Hurley and Chen realized the advantages of this; no longer would people have to sit and wait to download an external media player. There was already one installed on their computer, and they were going to exploit that.
Hurley and Chen also noticed a change in the demographics of those who were using the Internet. Particularly, they thought that the current online generation wanted an experience that was fun and entertaining.
It was not so much the technology that Hurley and Chen introduced through YouTube that enabled its success so much as it was the duo’s ability to look around them and take account of the changing trends. They created a business that could perfectly ride the changing tides.
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