This Was the First Video on YouTube

first video on youtube

Recently, YouTube marked its ninth anniversary. Since the site launched in 2005, small business owners and entrepreneurs around the world have used it to market their products and build their online networks. Some have even built their entire businesses around the platform.

But most of the videos on YouTube don’t have as many views as the very first YouTube video. Entitled “Me at the Zoo,” the video shows YouTube Co-Founder Jawed Karim on a visit to the San Diego Zoo. You can view the video in its entirety below:

Though only 19 seconds long and not exactly groundbreaking in the content department, the video has racked up more than 14 million views over the years.

This look back at YouTube’s first video serves as a reminder that there are so many different factors that can contribute to your video’s success. Of course, great content is key. But the timing of your video can be just as important. In this case, being the first-ever YouTube video made all the difference in the success of “Me at the Zoo.”

Over the last 9 years, there have been countless videos that have gained reach beyond anyone’s expectations. Who would have thought that a video called “Charlie bit my finger” would gain worldwide fame? And who could have predicted that “Gangnam Style,” a music video from a relatively unknown artist, would become the most viewed online video of all time?

You never know when a video is going to fall into the right hands and go viral. An influential person in your industry could find your next upload and share it with their network. Or a simple personal message could strike a chord with your target audience.

The key, as with Karim’s video, is to create the right kind of content at the right time. Then let your customers and community do the rest.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

14 Reactions
  1. Annie: What I have heard is that PSY had been a pretty big star in South Korea, before the Gangnam style video.

    I wonder if my video eating one of the hottest chile pepper (ghose pepper) in the world will become viral… 😉

  2. It is called “ghost” chile pepper (Bhut / Bih Jolokia).

  3. It is amazing to see how far Youtube has come. To think that it started with videos that looked like that. I am glad that their business grew as it is now a website that I cannot live without. Even businesses nowadays have to think about how to create viral videos so that they can get noticed.

  4. Can’t believe YouTube’s only been around for 9 years. It’s obviously 9 yrs, but it feels longer than that to me.

    It’s great to see the very first video. It marked the beginning of what’s proven to be an amazing journey for YouTube.

    • It does, doesn’t it? I can’t remember what it was like to not just be able to look up videos of just about anything…

      • Neither can I!

        It’s actually quite encouraging to see that first video. Can you imagine if they talked themselves out of the idea of YouTube, if they didn’t have faith or if they gave up at the first hurdle?

  5. YouTube has not just been a video watching tool but another good search engine for finding any information, marketing, promotional activities and a lot other functions.