Google YouTube Conference Call
Here are some random snippets from the call (comments not in order). These are very close to verbatim quotes:
Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
* This is the next step in the evolution of the Internet. It’s a natural next step and one that’s very exciting for Google, YouTube and their users.
* We have decided to continue YouTube as a brand and a community and we’ll maintain it as a separate operating division of Google.
* Google Video doesn’t go away ever. I hope that’s clear and it will become even more integrated with Google overall as we move forward.
* There was a clear winner on the social networking side of video (in response to question re why did Google want to buy YouTube).
* This is just the beginning of the online video revolution.
* This is just one of many investments Google will be making in online video.
YouTube Co-Founder Chad Hurley (sometimes nervously):
* We’ve always respected copyright owners’ rights. Copyright holders benefit from our site.
* We’ll remain independent and now have the resources to sharpen our focus and build a new platform. (Answer in response to a question about why did YouTube sell after saying it was not for sale.)
* Google will help us offer the best user experience in online video.
Google’s Sergei Brin:
* We care very much about search and increasing the comprehensiveness of search and video is a part of that.
* We have no intention of data mining (from YouTube registrations)
* There is a new class of sites that have developed very quickly and are very successful and delivering a lot of value (characterizing YouTube as a social network).
The call was both interesting and full of expected comments. They said the stock transaction was intended to minimize the tax consequences to the YouTube shareholders. I suspect there’s more to it than that. But I’ll defer to financial analysts.
The question I wanted to ask but didn’t get a chance to was: “Will this now enable Google to reach out to brand advertisers in new ways it hasn’t been able to before?” I think the clear answer is “yes.”
Eric Schmidt also characterized YouTube as a “global media platform.” It was also interesting how Google speakers (Eric, Sergei) tried to distinguish Google video from YouTube as being in a different category of sites (i.e., social networks).
Will this acquisition taint YouTube or alienate its users? I think the answer is “no” or, more precisely, not unless there are substantial changes to the site — too much advertising, too many new restrictions, etc. Keeping YouTube separate from Google is about preserving the “integrity” (my word) of its user experience and brand.
MySpace hasn’t suffered with users for its News Corp. ownership so I don’t think we’ll see YouTube suffer.
I think the most interesting thing will be to see how Google tries to approach large advertisers and content producers now with the leading video property. And it will also be interesting to see how Google tries to position its own video site now that it has a more powerful asset in house.
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.