Core dna is excited to be a nominated finalist in the Best Newbie Category at the 2016 MITX Awards. As judgement day looms, we thought we’d reminisce a little, dipping into the history of some huge technology players, back when they too were Newbies. This is the first in our series.
Does the year 2005 feel like yesterday to you? Can you believe we’re now laying on the nostalgia about the events of just over 10 years ago?!
We fondly recall almost 10 years spent debating what to call the decade between 2000 and 2009 (do we even know what we’re calling the current decade?) and now that era seems a distant memory.
In 2005, currency was not really a cause for controversy (no Bitcoin yet), listening to music online was mostly illegal (no Spotify or Apple Music), and the Sharing Economy was a concept more commonly associated with Socialism than the fast growth unicorn capitalism of Uber and Airbnb.
2005 was a huge year for the launch of some of the biggest new media companies we take for granted today. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these births.
You may take for granted that YouTube was later bought by Google, is said to be the world’s 2nd biggest search engine (behind its parent company), and in 2013 reached a remarkable milestone of 1b unique users/month.
You probably can’t easily imagine early 2005 when YouTube had one solitary video uploaded to its platform; the aptly titled Me At The Zoo starring Karim simply hanging out at San Diego Zoo.
Early on in 2005, the YouTube team were headquartered above a pizza shop but this fledgling startup didn’t stay that way for long.
In November that same year, venture firm Sequoia Capital saw the potential and invested $3.5m and then based on impressive early adoption by their audience added in a further $8m less than 6 months later. Then in late 2006, Google purchased the company for a mere $1.65 billion in stock. Chump change really; given that Google is said to be in a race with Apple to become the first business valued at the $1 trillion mark.
It’s fascinating to consider that whilst Hurley, Chen and Karim were building YouTube, many miles away in Paris but only one month later, a couple of Frenchmen were coming up with their own equivalent.
The video sharing site cruelly dubbed “the poor man’s YouTube” and “YouTube’s dark alter ego” may not report numbers as impressive, but this is still no niche player.
Dailymotion counts 137m unique visitors per month (compared with YouTube’s 1b) and in 2013 had a bid by Yahoo blocked (by the French government, concerned about foreign ownership).
Then in June 2015, French multinational media company Vivendi purchased 80% of Dailymotion, at the not so insignificant valuation of $295m. But it all began in 2005, just a month after YouTube kicked off their own simultaneous journey to greatness.
Moving on from video, 2005 was a big year for online media start-ups playing in a more traditional format, news editorial. Would you believe that in this very ripe year for online newbies, we saw the birth of a formidable trio TechCrunch, Mashable and the Huffington Post?
Perhaps today most famous for its annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference (at least if you’re a fan of HBO’s brilliant Silicon Valley…), TechCrunch.com is an online publisher of technology news, covering all things startup through to more established tech companies.
The site purports to be the #1 business blog for start-up and investment news and reaches 6.5m unique visitors in the US per month, boasting 13m social media followers and fans.
What TechCrunch is to tech news, Mashable is to digital and social media. Remarkably also starting as a blog in this very same 2005, Mashable was created by online blogger Pete Cashmore in his hometown of Aberdeen, Scotland and quickly moved well beyond its European borders and is today headquartered in NYC.
Today it reports 45 million unique visitors and 28m social media followers with Time Magazine naming it one of the 25 best blogs of 2009.
Another small and insignificant (!) website on that Time list for 2009 was another of our profiled Newbies from 2005, The Huffington Post.
Started by political commentator Arianna Huffington, the blog quickly established itself as the go-to destination for political news and commentary.
Politically liberal leaning, the site quickly moved beyond politics to become a mainstream online publisher reporting on news, entertainment, business, lifestyle and more.
HuffPo (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) was acquired in 2011 by TechCrunch owner and media giant AOL (who in turn was swallowed up by telecommunications giant Verizon in 2015) for $315m.
It won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012, making it the first commercially run, digital media enterprise to win the highest honour in journalism - a ground-breaking feat given that there is still a credibility debate between online and traditional media in many circles.
Each of these new media figures is now a huge global corporation, determining large parts of what we do and how we think online. It’s hard to imagine that all 5 were once “Newbies” and it all started in the year 2005.
Do you know of any other interesting companies who started that year? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.