Ten years ago today, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, three former employees of PayPal, registered a new company devised around a simple idea: that there should be one website where people can upload and watch videos. At the time, this goal was ambitious. Finding videos online was a pain, something Karim discovered when looking for footage of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl and that year's Indian Ocean tsunami. For two months, the site contained no videos and attracted little attention. Then, on April 23, Karim uploaded a 19-second clip of himself standing in front of the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.
"They have really really really long, uh, trunks," he said. "And that's cool."
The video wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy. But as the first ever YouTube video, it's certainly historic—and has been viewed more than 17.5 million times in the years since. YouTube is now the third-most viewed website in the world, boasting over one million viewers who watch more than 6 billion hours of footage each month. Each minute, users upload 300 hours of video to YouTube's servers. And despite its reputation for hosting clandestine home videos that go viral, 29 of the site's 30 most watched clips are professionally produced music videos. For popular music fans, YouTube is this generation's MTV.