Imagine you are barely thirty years old but have $64 million in your bank account. Yet, you prefer to remain in the shadows and enroll for your master’s degree to quench your thirst for learning. That is the story of Jawed Karim, one of the co-founders of YouTube and the first person to upload a video on the site. He is soft-spoken but is passionate about start-ups, going to the lengths of helping those interested in becoming entrepreneurs. His efforts have not gone to waste, and Jawed Karim’s net worth is $160 million. Let’s tell you more about he has achieved such a fortune.
His Interest in Technology Leads to Joining PayPal
Karim was born in East Germany to a German mother and a Bangladeshi father. In 1981, when Karim was about two years old, the family moved to West Germany due to xenophobia. They spent ten years in Neuss, where Karim and his younger brother were raised, but they still experienced xenophobia. Eventually, in 1992 the family moved to Minnesota. His mother got a job at the University of Minnesota as a research assistant professor of biochemistry, and Karim’s father also was employed by 3M as a researcher. As a son of researchers, Karim’s interest in learning grew. He also was passionate about technology. Thus, after graduating from Saint Paul Central High School, Karim decided to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign where he enrolled in the Department of Computer Science. According to the New York Times, the entrepreneur chose the university because it is where Marc Andreesen and other tech-companies founders attended. However, Karim explained that he was not interested in being the next Andreesen; he only wanted to be in the same place that the co-founder of Netscape once was. His love for technology resulted in him seeking employment at PayPal even before getting his degree. Karim continued with the coursework through online classes and attended Santa Clara University. Hence, he finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. By then, he was already making a lucrative income at PayPal. Although it is unclear what his job description at PayPal was, we can go by the average annual salary of $133,706, but it could have been significantly less back then.
Getting Millions from YouTube
Destiny had a hand in Karim’s decision to get a job at PayPal because that is where he met the two other men who would be the future co-founders of YouTube. One of them, Chad Hurley, had been tasked with designing the PayPal logo. The other was Steve Chen, whom Karim already knew because they both had attended the University of Illinois. The three explored different business ideas and their potential for growth until they came up with YouTube. There are different theories regarding how the video-sharing site came to be. According to No Film School, one of the rumors is that Hurley and Chen attended a dinner party in San Francisco and were frustrated that they could not share the videos shot that night because of how hard it was. Hurley even said in an interview that they felt the issue of video-sharing had to be addressed because, after people recorded on their cellphones, they could not share the clips. The other theory is that Karim is the one who came up with the idea after the Janet Jackson wardrobe function during the 2004 Super Bowl. He had missed the event and wanted to see the clip but could not find any video online to satisfy his curiosity. Thus, he started thinking of building a site where people could share videos for others to watch. Hurley began working on the code for the proposed website.
According to Gigaom, Karim also credits the emergence of digital cameras and phones, cheap bandwidth, and broadband penetration for the successful launch of YouTube on February 14, 2005. Karim uploaded the first YouTube video titled “Me at the Zoo” on April 25, 2005. It only lasts 19 seconds and is the only video uploaded to Karim’s channel “jawed.” Surprisingly, the channel has 2.67 million subscribers, and the video had over 219 million views as of January 18, 2022. However, it took a while before people could show interest in YouTube. Nobody was using the platform, and none of the writers they pitched to about the site wanted to talk about YouTube. The three co-founders were so desperate that they even placed an ad on Craigslist looking for beautiful girls to post videos on the site. Unfortunately, no one responded. After revamping the site with important features such as social networking tools and an external video player, YouTube gained traction. Google acquired the site for $1.65 billion on October 16, 200. Karim had 137,443 shares, valued at $64.6 million, making him a multi-millionaire at 27. If he still has the shares, they are currently worth at least $350 million.
Founding Y Ventures
Karim opted to return to school for his master’s degree hence the smaller stake in YouTube. USA Today published that the entrepreneur was working on another start-up, but Karim kept the cards close to his chest. Karim had met Keith Rabois and Kevin Hartz during his employment at PayPal. They reconnected in 2007, and the three decided to back former and current students at Stanford University and the University of Illinois. Rabois and Hartz were Stanford alumni, and Karim had enrolled there for his master’s degree. The partnership resulted in Youniversity Ventures with Karim telling The Los Angeles Times, he wanted to help students because he wishes he had received the same kind of mentorship. By 2008, Youniversity Ventures had backed two companies. In 2009, the venture fund became one of the earliest investors in Airbnb, now valued at more than $113 billion. Therefore, Karim is raking in millions from his various investments because Youniversity Ventures has stakes in different companies.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee