YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar and his team have transformed Google's Folly into a mind-blowing -- and lucrative -- global platform that is redefining the entertainment business.
Star Maker: Kamangar loves that YouTube is creating the stars of tomorrow-and that advertisers want in. | Photograph by Robyn TwomeyEnlarge
Discovery Network: Stewart's goal is to make sure there's a flood of personalized content waiting for users every time they visit YouTube. | Photograph by Robyn Twomey
Salar Kamangar floats unnoticed through YouTube's sprawling San Bruno, California, offices dressed in a navy blue hooded sweater and jeans, laptop cocked on his hip. he might as well be just another anonymous, nomadic programmer rather than YouTube's newly named CEO.
The exceedingly shy 34-year-old escorts me into a corner office filled with a cornucopia of Silicon Valley souvenirs, including hundreds of conference badges and, naturally, a Segway. "None of this is mine," Kamangar tells me. The office belongs to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, even though neither technically works there anymore. Kamangar's own desk is a naked cubicle right outside. Jeff Zucker he isn't.
Sitting stiffly on Hurley's tan couch, Kamangar has a nervous demeanor, which only begins to melt after I accept his offer to take a spin through his favorite YouTube channels. "This is pretty funny. Have you seen this before?" he asks, sounding almost like a teenager. He props his worn Lenovo on his lap. "It's Indian pole gymnastics," which is exactly what it sounds like. With his eyes glued to the screen, he shows me vintage footage of bluegrass flatpicker Doc Watson; the fan-created Lord of the Rings prequel "The Hunt for Gollum," which, he tells me, has been mistaken for a Peter Jackson flick; and Sal Khan, the young hedge-fund manager who ditched his career to become the most prolific math instructor on the web and whose audience, says Kamangar, surpasses those for recorded Stanford and MIT lectures. Kamangar's tour is a peek into a side of himself that he doesn't show the public, even if some of the videos are the kind of baseline entertainment that has made YouTube beloved by audiences but infamous to advertisers. (I mean, seriously: Gymnasts flinging themselves onto a pole is a few steps above talking-cat voyeurism.)
Since YouTube's earliest days, Kamangar has envisioned the site's transformational potential. Unknown to many, he was the driving force behind Google's acquisition of YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, less than 20 months after Hurley, Chen, and Jawed Karim registered the domain youtube.com. Google's youngest VP at the time, Kamangar ran Google Apps, including Google Video. "As quickly as Google Video was going, we realized it wasn't that likely to catch up with YouTube," he says. He felt that while Google Video obsessed over comprehensiveness, YouTube's founders made the smarter bet of cultivating its vibrant community.
Read the full long article on fastcompany.com - well worth the time