A clue to why Google Inc. spent a king’s ransom on YouTube Inc. this month can be found in a silly, two-minute clip posted to the video-sharing site hours after the $1.65-billion deal.
Standing outside a TGI Friday’s restaurant in San Bruno, Calif., YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley pronounced in a shaky video that “two kings have gotten together,” prompting co-founder Steve Chen to burst out laughing.
More than just the youthful swagger of millionaire twentysomethings, the clip was an inside joke: Hurley was lampooning a video by rapper Diddy announcing the debut of his own YouTube channel while ordering a Whopper at Burger King.
[…] The self-referential satire of the “Message From Chad and Steve” highlights what separates YouTube from the other online video sites: It’s a community where the videos are part of a running conversation between members.
To Google, that community is worth potentially far more than the bootlegged video clips and amateur movies that built YouTube’s audience of 63 million. Among fickle online audiences, loyalty is prized.
“What’s so unique about YouTube is that most of the content on the site is this conversation between people,” said Fred Stutzman, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who has studied social networks. “The interesting thing is that the conversations are happening in videos.”