Jawed Karim (born October 28, 1979) is an American software engineer and Internet entrepreneur of Bangladeshi-German origin. He is a co-founder of YouTube and the first person to upload a video to the site. The site's inaugural video, "Me at the zoo", uploaded on April 23, 2005, has been viewed over 310 million times as of March 4, 2024.[2][3] During Karim's time working at PayPal, where he met fellow YouTube co-founders Steven Chen and Chad Hurley, he designed many of its core components, including its real-time anti-fraud system.

Jawed Karim
Karim in August 2008
Born (1979-10-28) October 28, 1979 (age 44)
Alma materUniversity of Illinois Urbana–Champaign (BS)
Stanford University (MS)
OccupationSoftware engineer
Known for
YouTube information
Years active
  • 2005–2007
  • 2010 (videos)
Subscribers4.37 million[1]
Total views303 million[1]
100,000 subscribers2015
1,000,000 subscribers2020

Last updated: October 8, 2023
Websitewww.jawed.com Edit this at Wikidata

Early life and education

Jawed Karim was born on October 28, 1979, in Merseburg, East Germany, to a Bangladeshi father and a German mother.[4] His father Naimul Karim (Bengali: নাইমুল করিম) is a Bangladeshi who is a researcher at 3M, and his mother, Christine, is a German biochemistry scientist at the University of Minnesota.[5] He was the elder of two boys.[6] He crossed the inner German border with his family in the early 1980s because of xenophobia,[7] growing up in Neuss, West Germany.[note 1] Experiencing xenophobia there as well,[7] Karim moved with his family to Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1992.[8]

He graduated from Saint Paul Central High School in 1997,[9][10] and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[9] He left campus prior to graduating to become an early employee at PayPal. He continued his coursework,[8] earning his bachelor's degree in computer science.[11] He subsequently earned a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University.[12] In addition to English, he speaks German and Bengali.[13]


"Me at the zoo", the first video on YouTube, was uploaded by Karim on April 23, 2005.
Karim in September 2004

In university, Karim served an Internship at Silicon Graphics, Inc., where he worked on 3D voxel data management for very large data sets for volume rendering, including the data for the Visible Human Project.[14] While working at PayPal in 2002, he met Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Three years later, in 2005, they founded the video-sharing website YouTube.[15] Karim created the first channel on YouTube, "jawed", on April 23, 2005 PDT (April 24, 2005 UTC),[16] and uploaded the website's first video, "Me at the zoo", the same day.[2][3]

After co-founding the company and developing the YouTube concept and website with Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, Karim enrolled as a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University while acting as an adviser to YouTube. When the site was introduced in February 2005, Karim agreed not to be an employee and simply be an informal adviser, and that he was focusing on his studies.[8] As a result, he took a much lower share in the company compared to Hurley and Chen.[17]

Because of his smaller role in the company, Karim was mostly unknown to the public as the third founder until YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006. Despite his lower share in the company, the purchase was still large enough that he received 137,443 shares of stock, worth about $64 million based on Google's closing stock price at the time.[18]

In October 2006, Karim gave a lecture about the history of YouTube at the University of Illinois annual ACM Conference entitled YouTube From Concept to Hyper growth. Karim returned again to the University of Illinois in May 2008 as the 136th and youngest commencement speaker in the school's history.[19][20]


In March 2008, Karim launched a venture fund called Youniversity Ventures (now known as YVentures) with partners Keith Rabois and Kevin Hartz.[21] Karim is one of Airbnb's first investors, investing in the company's initial seed round in April 2009.[22] Y Ventures has also invested in Palantir, Reddit and Eventbrite.[23]

Responses to YouTube

Occasionally, Karim has updated the video description of "Me at the zoo" to criticize decisions made by YouTube.

On November 6, 2013, YouTube began requiring that commenting on its videos be done via a Google+ account, a move that was widely opposed by the YouTube community. An online petition to revert the change garnered over 240,000 signatures.[24]

In response to Google requiring YouTube members to use Google+ for its comment system, Karim wrote on his YouTube account, "why the fuck do i need a Google+ account to comment on a video?", and updated the video description on his first video titled "Me at the zoo" to "I can't comment here anymore, since i don't want a Google+ account".[25]

In response to pressure from the YouTube community, Google publicly apologized for forcing Google+ users to use their real names, which was one of the reasons the Google+ integration was unpopular with YouTube users.[26] Google subsequently dropped its Google+ requirement across all products, beginning with YouTube.[27] Google announced in October 2018 its intention to permanently shut down Google+, as it had failed to achieve broad consumer or developer adoption,[28][29] and because of a vulnerability.[30][31] Google+ was closed for personal accounts on April 2, 2019.[32]

In November 2021, Jawed updated the "Me at the zoo" video description to include "When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, YouTube🤦‍♂️."[33] A few days later, Karim updated the description again to a more detailed condemnation of YouTube's decision.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Sources vary regarding the year that the family moved from East Germany to West Germany. The New York Times says 1980.[8] Star Weekend Magazine says at the end of summer 1981.[9] Die Welt says 1982.[7]


  1. ^ a b "About jawed". YouTube.
  2. ^ a b Asmelash, Leah (April 23, 2020). "The first ever YouTube video was uploaded 15 years ago today. Here it is". CNN. Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Karim, Jawed (April 23, 2005). "Me at the zoo". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  4. ^ "Big data company Palantir is now officially a public company — and it's one of nearly a dozen major tech firms that can trace its roots to PayPal". Business Insider.
  5. ^ "Jawed Karim, Co-founder of Youtube". Real Leaders. April 14, 2018. Archived from the original on July 18, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  6. ^ "Surprise! There's a third YouTube co-founder". USA Today. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Keese, Christoph (October 22, 2006). "Sergey Brin und Jawed Karim – zwei Karierren". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved August 20, 2017. Der andere heißt Jawed Karim und wurde 1979 in Merseburg/DDR geboren. Sein Vater kam aus Bangladesch, seine Mutter aus dem Harz. Die Karims waren als Ausländer verpönt und wanderten deswegen 1982 in den Westen aus. In Neuss schlug ihnen wieder Fremdenhass entgegen; deshalb zogen sie in die USA
  8. ^ a b c d Helft, Miguel (October 12, 2006). "With YouTube, Student Hits Jackpot Again". The New York Times.
  9. ^ a b c Rahman, Muhit (December 8, 2006). "The Greatest Possibilities: The Jawed Karim Story". Star Weekend Magazine. Archived from the original on April 29, 2023. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  10. ^ Christensen, Tesha M. (September 5, 2016). "Year-long events mark Central High School 150th anniversary". Monitor St. Paul. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "YouTube co-founder to be commencement speaker at Illinois" (Press release). University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. March 27, 2007. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  12. ^ "Planet Cardinal". Stanford Magazine. January 2007.
  13. ^ "::: Star Weekend Magazine :::". archive.thedailystar.net. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
  14. ^ "Speakers, Graphics Conference". Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  15. ^ Video websites pop up, invite postings, USA Today, November 21, 2005
  16. ^ "Extract Meta Data". citizenevidence.amnestyusa.org. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  17. ^ "Jawed Who? Meet YouTube's silent partner". Silicon Valley Watcher.
  18. ^ Helft, Miguel (February 7, 2007). "YouTube's Payoff: Hundreds of Millions for the Founders". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Welcome to Engineering at Illinois Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, University of Illinois
  20. ^ 136th Commencement Address Archived April 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, University of Illinois, May 13, 2007.
  21. ^ "YouTube Co-Founder Starts Venture Capital Firm". Mashable. March 20, 2008.
  22. ^ Gallagher, Leigh (February 14, 2017). "The Hustle". The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions. and Created Plenty of Controversy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-544-95387-1. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "Y Ventures | Companies". www.yventures.com. Archived from the original on May 11, 2021. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  24. ^ "YouTube faces backlash for Google+ integration". CNN. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  25. ^ Cheredar, Tom (November 8, 2013). "YouTube cofounder's first public comment in 8 years: why the f*** [sic] do i need a Google+ account to comment on a video?". VentureBeat. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  26. ^ "Google Plus Finally Gives Up on Its Ineffective, Dangerous Real-Name Policy". Slate. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  27. ^ "Google is dropping its Google+ requirement across all products, starting with YouTube". VentureBeat. July 27, 2015. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  28. ^ "Google+ to shut down". CNN. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  29. ^ "Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+". October 8, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  30. ^ "Google+ is Shutting Down After a Vulnerability Exposed 500,000 Users' Data". thehackernews.com. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  31. ^ "A New Google+ Blunder Exposed Data From 52.5 Million Users". Wired. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  32. ^ Welch, Chris (April 2, 2019). "Google begins shutting down its failed Google+ social network". The Verge. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  33. ^ Li, Abner (November 14, 2021). "'Me at the zoo,' YouTube's first video, gets new description protesting dislike count removal". 9to5Google. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  34. ^ Vincent, James (November 17, 2021). "YouTube co-founder predicts 'decline' of the platform following removal of dislikes". The Verge. Retrieved November 18, 2021.

External links