Susan Wojcicki Replaces Salar Kamangar as Head of YouTube

Susan WojcickiSusan Wojcicki will replace Salar Kamangar as the head of YouTube.

Wojcicki joined Google in 1999 as employee number 16, pushed hard for Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube in 2006 when it seemed like a big risk, is the senior most woman at Google, and will now become the Senior Vice President of YouTube.

Kamangar, who also joined Google in 1999 as employee number 9 and replaced Chad Hurley as head of YouTube Oct. 29, 2010, will be staying at the company in an unspecified role having to do with early-stage ventures.

The story was broken by Jessica E. Lessin and Amir Efrati of The Information. They reported, “Google is likely to tap longtime ad products head Susan Wojcicki as the new head of YouTube, according to two people briefed on the discussions, a surprising move that would place one of the company’s earliest employees at the helm of the video unit.”

The leak was confirmed later yesterday in an email from Google CEO Larry Page to Liz Gannes of Re/code. In his emailed statement, Page told Gannes:

“Salar and the whole YouTube team have built something amazing. YouTube is a billion person global community curating videos for every possibility. Anyone uploading their creative content can reach the whole world and even make money. Like Salar, Susan has a healthy disregard for the impossible and is excited about improving YouTube in ways that people will love.”

Re/code also reported that Sridhar Ramaswamy, who joined Google in 2003 and became a senior vice president of advertising and commerce last year, will now run the ad business.

So, what else is worth knowing? Kamangar was the first non-engineer at Google, and Wojcicki started in marketing. Ramaswamy is a software engineer. All three of them rose up through the ranks in the ads organization, although Kamangar also worked on products like Gmail and Docs. Wojcicki helped lead seminal projects such as image search and AdSense.

Wojcicki studied history and literature at Harvard University and graduated with honors in 1990. She also received her master’s in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1993 and a Master’s in Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998. In September 1998, the same month that Google was incorporated, its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up office in Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park.

Adweek has called Wojcicki “the most important person in advertising” and “the most important Googler you’ve never heard of.” She is married to Google executive Dennis Troper and they have four children. She is also the sister of Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe.

What does this mean to digital marketers?

In early July 2013, Search Engine Watch took a hard look at “How to Make Money on YouTube” and concluded: “The number of advertisers who are using TrueView in-stream ads needs to increase significantly and/or the amount of money they spend on YouTube advertising needs to increase dramatically, or an awful lot of poor YouTube Partners are going to face a hard decision this winter: remain starving artists or look for another day job.”

A couple of weeks later at the Video Summit in San Francisco, a keynote panel discussed the question, “Is YouTube’s Business Model Broken?

And in December 2013, Geoff Yang, a Partner at Redpoint Ventures, posted “Big Idea 2014: YouTube’s Bay of Pigs Moment” on LinkedIn. Yang wrote:

“From where I sit, this is YouTube’s Bay of Pigs moment. As you may recall, the CIA funded and encouraged rebel troops in Cuba to overthrow the Castro government. But that encouragement was not accompanied by the proper operational and air support to ensure victory. So the rebel upstarts did not prevail over the establishment. Let’s hope that YouTube does not make the same mistake and doom its chance to be pioneers in creating the next generation of content networks and unseat the traditional media establishment.”

So, it appears that YouTube may have had its “Bay of Pigs Moment” and will now fix its broken business model, helping a million partners who are trying to build a sustainable career on YouTube and beyond. That would make this a very significant announcement.

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