A single nipple has been credited with the start of the world's most popular video streaming service.

Yes, you read that correctly.

But how on earth could one woman's exposed areola help burgeon a multi-billion dollar search engine, responsible for uploading 100 hours of content each minute?

Here, let me tell you!


The year is 2005.

Actor Tom Cruise is about to jump up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch because of love, Wolf Creek is out in cinemas, Destiny's Child have broken up, and a group of Harvard College kids have launched some random networking site they call 'TheFacebook'.

The world is well and truly into the new millennium, people and businesses are figuring out how to use the internet to their advantage, and the future looks bright.

In the heart of San Francisco, three friends, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim are at a dinner party where the drinks and discussion is flowing.

The three former PayPal employees are chatting about the devastating tsunami that ripped through Asia over Christmas, sparking a worldwide humanitarian crisis.

They share their frustration at not being able to find video footage of the tsunami on the internet. Super annoying.

Maybe it's the booze, or the company, but the conversation moves seamlessly from the devastating tsunami to something pretty hilarious.


Like most of the world, Hurley, Chen and Karim had watched the previous year's Super Bowl halftime show as pop stars Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson shared the stage to perform Rock Your Body by Janet's mega famous brother, Michael.

But this particular halftime show was extra crazy because this was the year that the pair gyrated a bit on stage together before Justin Timberlake ripped off the right cup of Janet's corset, exposing her entire breast, which was sort of half covered up with some bejewelled patch.

Naturally, when people heard that there was a nipple situation unfolding, they immediately wanted to check out the footage themselves.

And why should they have to wait for the replay on MTV or E! News? This was 2005!

But this nip slip had also proven extremely difficult to locate on the internet.

I mean, what does a guy have to do around here to find a video of Janet's boob and some footage of a deadly tsunami in a single sitting?

In later years, Karim would credit this discussion as the catalyst for the group's next move.

The three guys, newly minted after walking away from PayPal, decide to create a start-up of their own, a start-up where exposed nipples and tsunamis will be free and accessible to anyone who wants to watch them from the comfort of their homes.

They register the domain name YouTube.com on Valentines Day and upload their very first video in April.

The video, called "Me at the zoo", features Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo, sharing some incredible insights into the animal kingdom.

"So here we are in front of the elephants," he explains. "The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long trunks and that's cool.

"And that's pretty much all there is to say."

That video has since been viewed more than 55 million times.

The more you know, right?

The group worked initially out of a garage, then moved their operation to YouTube's first official headquarters, above a strip of restaurants, including a pizzeria and Japanese joint in California.

They had just over 30 employees and by mid-2006 YouTube was one of the fastest growing websites online, featuring more than 65,000 videos and wracking up 100 million video views each day.

From a business perspective, the idea was genius.

The notion that you could share "snack-sized" videos (as they were then called) and watch replays or news stories at the click of a button revolutionalised the way people shared information.

After all that hard work, Karim felt like doing some more, so he split from Hurley and Chen, enrolled at Stanford University for a computer science course and would act as an adviser to YouTube in the future.

Hurley, the CEO, and Chen, the chief tech officer, then sold YouTube to Google for US$2.26 billion in Google stock in October, 2006.

The two went their separate, wealthy ways, creating more online platforms and customised streaming services for the masses.

Oh, and Hurley was forced to pay Kanye West and Kim Kardashian more than US$600,000 for recording and posting their engagement video online. Yeah, that was him.

But despite the distance, each year when the moon is full and the sound of the Super Bowl Halftime Show drifts through the corridors of their manor homes, the three men will pause and pay tribute to the heinous wardrobe malfunction that made them filthy rich*.

* It is not known if Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim or Steven Chen share this annual tradition or not.