Profession(s): Internet Entrepreneur, Technologist
Education: No degree, Computer Science, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Awards: 2008, Top 100 “The People Who Shape Our World – Builders and Titans” Time Magazine; 2007, Webby Person of the Year, International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences; 2006, (Ranked 28) 50 Who Matter Now, Business 2.0 Magazine;
Contribution(s): Steve Chen is the Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of YouTube. Born in Taipei, he remembers when he was taken to a fortuneteller by his mother when he was maybe 6 years old and told that he would never be rich. Chen later said that, “it was ironically a good thing to be told that, when you’re young, to keep you working hard even when success is imminent.” The negative aspect of the prophecy appeared to be dominant though when Chen and Chad Hurley, both formerly with PayPal, unemployed, and heavily in credit card debt, met at a dinner party in San Francisco in January 2005 and took some video and digital photos. The next day they had problems trying to share the videos online because the files were too large to e-mail and it took too much time to get them online. They decided that there had to be an easier way. From that germ of a business idea the two teamed up with Chen’s college and PayPal colleague, Jawed Karim, and created YouTube in February. The website launched in December 2005 and from there the growth in the company became explosive as the website became an Internet phenomenon that caught the imagination of young people and corporate marketers everywhere. Between November 2005 and April of 2006, YouTube received close to $11.5 million in financial backing from venture capital firms. By October 2006, just short of two years in business and with fewer than 70 employees, Google agreed to buy the company, paying the founders and financial backers $1.65 billion in Google stock. Forbes Magazine voted YouTube the greatest “Disruptor of 2006″ for completely changing the media game. Now anyone with a cheap video camera or camera phone could share their vision with the world and become a music or movie star without the backing of the traditional media or film studios. YouTube has also become heavily involved in US elections, especially the 2008 presidential contest, featuring direct candidate appeals, commentary, criticism, and advertisements as well as presidential debates whose questions came from YouTube viewers.
Steve Chen is a member of the Committee of 100, a Chinese American leadership organization.