The wildly successful video-sharing site YouTube, is now officially in the big leagues. Google, the largest Internet search engine, has agreed to acquire the young company for a whopping $1.65 billion. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, for YouTube's young founders, it's a classic rags-to-riches story.
It began as a simple idea that in a few months has exploded into one of the hottest websites in the world. It's called YouTube - where you can watch almost anything: from an old man singing a Tango tune, to Hollywood star Kiera Knightley playing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" with her teeth.
What's the big deal? Well besides the silly spoofs and the bloopers - YouTube has also become the go-to [preferred]site for Internet politics.
And even insurgent videos from Iraq.
Wired magazine editor Marc Robinson calls it a revolution in moving pictures.
"I think what we're seeing is a migration of the video-viewing experience from TV to the Internet," he said. "More and more people are going to be watching video/TV on the Internet. And so what this is, I think is the next evolution in how we watch TV."
It's easy to see why Google would want a piece of the action. More than 60,000 videos are uploaded onto YouTube every day. Even more impressive: a 100 million videos are viewed daily. Robinson says that's a large number of potential, revenue-generating customers.
"For Google, they're getting a huge audience and a big brand, that's the leader in web video, something that Google has not been that successful at on their own," he said.
And it's an amazing success story for a site that didn't even exist just 20 months ago.
YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley say they used to work out of a garage and lived off their credit cards in the early days.
"We're still on the second floor above a pizza parlor, in a small office," they said in an interview on ABC TV's Good Morning America, taped before they became billionaires.
But YouTube's popularity has also set off alarms in the entertainment industry. Some popular TV skits have had to be removed from the website because of concerns about piracy. However, Hollywood has also taken advantage by posting movie trailers on the site.
Media analyst Omar Wasow says it's become a popular site for everyone from aspiring entertainers to amateur moviemakers.
"Suddenly, there is this whole new generation of producers making content for the Internet audience," he said.
Although much of the content is humorous, analysts say the profits are nothing to laugh about. YouTube is expected to generate more than a $100 million next year.