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Another Reason Why YouTube Worked

Hunter Walk, a brand manager at Google and a friend of ours since he invited us to give a talk at the Googleplex, has an interesting post on his personal blog.

Here’s the brief background: Hunter was helping run Google Video and, since the Google acquisition of YouTube, he has been working with the YouTube folks. The point he makes has to do with collaboration, creativity, and trust — issues that strike at the heart of the work that a great many of us do, whether we work in business, academia, journalism, etc. Here’s what Hunter writes about the YouTube operation:

Personally it’s been interesting to get to know Steve [Chen] and Chad [Hurley]. … But the YouTube story doesn’t end at Chad and Steve. In fact, one of the underreported factors in their success is the product, design and engineering team they assembled. Almost all of the original team worked together at Paypal/eBay. As YouTube grew incredibly quickly they were able to sound the bell and keep bringing on more former colleagues. All folks who were vetted, trusted by one another, etc. Imagine the time, hiring risk and integration friction they saved — the ability to “get the band back together” was without a doubt a reason that YouTube scaled.

I think this is a really powerful insight. Most of us will never build something as monstrously successful or dynamic as YouTube. But we do all have to make decisions about the people we choose to work with, live with, play with, etc. While there is plenty of value in seeking out new partners, there is also much to be said for the devil you know — especially when, as in the case of YouTube, the devils happen to be fiendishly clever and hard-working as well. I guess this is why, among other reasons, Spielberg and Lucas are coming back for a fourth Indiana Jones film. It almost (but not quite) makes me want to put my old band back together