YouTube turns 15 today. Watch the first video it posted

One of the founders visited the zoo. Let's just say the video site's content has improved a lot since 2005.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

The clip is just 18 seconds long, but 15 years ago, it kicked off an online video revolution.  Thursday marks the 15th anniversary of the first-ever YouTube video, which shows company co-founder Jawed Karim standing in front of an elephant enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

It's not exactly the most impressive video ever. 

"All right, so here we are in front of the, uh, elephants, and the cool thing about these guys is that, is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks," Karim says. "And that's, that's cool. And that's pretty much all there is to say."

Simple and to the point, perhaps, and the historic video has been viewed more than 90 million times. That's nothing, of course, compared with the site's top videos. Its most-watched offering, the 2017 music video for Luis Fonsi's song Despacito, has been viewed more than 6.7 billion times.

Karim founded YouTube along with Steven Chen and Chad Hurley, all of whom were former PayPal employees. He's said in the past that part of the inspiration for the site came when he missed Janet Jackson's famous wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl, and couldn't find online video of the goof. Just one year after the 2005 zoo video was made, Karim and his fellow YouTube co-founders sold the platform to Google for $1.65 billion.

According to company statistics, more than 2 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month, and every day people watch over 1 billion hours of video.

The zoo video remains the only video on Karim's YouTube channel, though a message posted with it says, "update video as soon as 10M subscriberz!" If that's in fact Karim's plan, he doesn't have to rush. Right now his channel has only 793,000 subscribers. In comparison, Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie has more than 104 million.