Getting one billion people to do anything is tantamount to herding cats. “It ain’t an easy job, but when you bring a herd into town without losing a single one of them, there ain’t no feeling like it in the world.” That quote, if you didn’t recognize it comes from a famous EDS commercial that aired on Super Bowl Sunday 2000, largely viewed as one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. And largely viewed in this case, is quite a relative number. I was actually quite surprised to find that I was viewer number 3,533,158 of this video on YouTube. That said, in the time it took me to go find that number, about a minute, 46 other people somewhere had viewed the same video.
That is the perversity and pervasiveness of YouTube who announced today that they have reached “the one billion” milestone. Thais means that one billion people use YouTube at least once a month. In order for China to insist that 1 billion do what they desire they had to kill a lot of people in Tienanmen Square. Outside of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), there are few people who have been able to accomplish “a billion” anythings. I guess Jonas Salk would make that list but he had the crippling nature of polio in his corner when he developed his Polio vaccine that well over a billion people have used. Mind you, by failing to patent his vaccine his descendants lost out on billions of dollars owing to his lack of business acumen and altruism.
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Only Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), who reached one billion users after roughly seven years of operation, can claim one billion quicker. It has taken YouTube eight years to make it to this milestone and you can bet that the founder is kicking himself for only getting a touch over $1 billion ($1.25) for it when he let it go to Google in 2006, for that paltry sum. It’s difficult to view $1.25 billion as paltry but no other word comes to mind when you consider that to have reached this milestone YouTube essentially requires that every other person in the world with an Internet connection must tune in monthly to make it so. With that many people sitting captive to the ads that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has tailored to the individual viewer, they truly got YouTube for a song. Songs of course being one of the many reasons one billion people visit YouTube each month.