Masters of Scale – Reid Hoffman: YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki
When you scale at warp speed, it’s easy to lose your bearings. You have to establish your company’s true north, or the dizzying pace of growth will push you off course. No one knows this better than Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. Under her leadership, YouTube has grown to be the world’s largest video platform.
And in her previous role at Google, she was the chief architect of its advertising and analytics model. In both roles, she achieved massive scale and grappled with massive challenges. Susan shares the guiding principles that help them stay the course, as well as stories from Google’s early years that you’ll hear first here.
Clarity in founding principles
To navigate the challenges of growth, establish clear founding principles to act as guiding landmarks toward a goal. These principles serve as a strong foundation and prevent getting lost in a rapidly developing environment.
Having a clear focus, or “true north,” and leveraging strengths can lead to success. Google’s emphasis on search excellence helped them become the successful company they are today.
Focus on your company’s founding principles and prioritize improving the experience for individual users above all else when making decisions in uncharted territory. Let your True North guide you.
Google’s targeted ads provide users with super-targeted and relevant ads based on their search queries. This accuracy is due to the company’s unified Quality Score, which is based on their commitment to quality search results and user experience.
Defining true north provides a common language and focus for an organization, impacting both overall strategy and day-to-day decisions. Even if the traditional definition is technically incorrect, changing it can cause chaos and confusion.
Democracy at Youtube
YouTube’s democratized video platform, fast upload and availability for all users made it the leader in the market.
Susan Wojcicki’s model showed its revenue potential, leading to Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition, and her appointment as CEO highlights the immense responsibility that comes with leading one of the largest video sharing platforms in the world.
The success story
Keep your personal values a priority when making decisions in business. Embrace new ideas and platforms that align with your principles while disregarding the bad in order to achieve success.
YouTube’s success can be attributed to their innovative six-second video ad approach and their consultation with experts to address challenges in content moderation and responsibility.
Lessons from google’s monetization strategy
When faced with uncharted territory, use your compass. This is precisely what Google did when trying to monetize their search engine – they followed their founding principles. Their focus on user quality and rejection of paid inclusion model allowed them to create a new ad system separate from organic search results.
Though building a brand-new model with zero knowledge of advertising may seem insane, it worked for Google because they prioritized improving search for individual users above all else. The lesson here is to understand your own true north and let it guide your decision-making process.
The importance of consistent content policy on online platforms
Maintaining consistency in content policy is crucial for online platforms to prevent unintended consequences. It is a tough job, as some users will argue that the policies do not go far enough, while others will say that they go too far.
To achieve this, YouTube shifted its focus from video clicks to hours of YouTube watched, with the North Star of providing quality search results. However, this led to unintended consequences like an increase in hate speech and conspiracy theories. Therefore, YouTube defined quality in terms of responsibility, removing content that violated human rights.
One of Google’s biggest innovations was focusing on user quality. And saying “ads is going to have its own quality, but it’s going to be in a separate section and we’ll never mix the two” – because the early search engines had this whole paid inclusion model where you could pay to be in the search results, and Google from the very beginning rejected that.