Meet Jawed Karim – The Bangladeshi-German-American Internet Entrepreneur

Youtube is a platform that has developed over the years to become one of the most popular social media platforms. Beyond being a mere file-sharing platform, it has become a money-minting platform for many who operate YouTube channels. One of the people who contributed to establishing YouTube is Jawed Karim. He is a Bangladeshi-German American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. While he co-founded YouTube with Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, Jawed initially uploaded a video to the site titled ‘Me at the Zoo’. Karim was one of the first employees of PayPal where he designed many of the site’s core components including its real-time anti-internet fraud system.

Jawed Karim’s Background

Jawed Karim was born on the 28th of October, 1979 to a German mother and Bangladeshi father in Merseburg, East Germany. He grew up with his brother, Ilias Karim. His father, Christine Karim is a researcher while his mum, Naimul Karim is a German scientist. In the early 1980s, Jawed together with his family crossed the German border to Neuss, West Germany to escape xenophobia.

Still experiencing xenophobia, they moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1992 where he attended the Saint Paul Central High School. In 1998, Jawed Karim interned with Silicon Graphics Inc. While working with the American high-performance computing manufacturer which produces computer software and hardware, Karim developed a 3D voxel data management for massive data sets for volume rendering.

He subsequently enrolled at the University of Illinois, to study Computer Science. In the course of his studies, he left the university campus to become an employee of PayPal, combining his job and coursework. Following his graduation from the University of Illinois in 2004, Karim furthered his studies at the Stanford University, earning an M.Sc. in Computer Science.

How He Contributed To YouTube’s Creation

Jawed Karim
Karim with co-YouTube founders, Hurley, and Chen Image Source)

In 2002, while he was at PayPal, Karim met Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. After three years of their meeting, they founded the video-sharing website, YouTube. According to Jawed, he got the inspiration to create YouTube when he found it difficult getting video clips of two 2004 events of high importance. The clips are the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and the Superbowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy involving Janet Jackson. However, Chad and Steve added that the idea of creating YouTube was originally inspired by the site, “Hot and Not”.

In February 2005, the trio officially turned on the site while they gradually developed it in the next few months. The domain started as a venture capital funded-technology company with a base capital of $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital and $8 million from Artis Capital Management. They originally located the headquarters of the company in San Mateo, California, atop a Japan restaurant. On 23rd April 2005, Karim created his channel ‘jawed’ and uploaded the first-ever YouTube video, “Me at the Zoo“. His high school friend, Yakov Lapitsky recorded the video which featured Karim at the San Diego Zoo.

Read Also: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Moe Sargi, The Lebanese YouTuber

Meanwhile, Karim was still pursuing his studies at Stanford University at the time he co-founded YouTube. He, therefore, chose to be an informal adviser to the company instead of a full-time employee to enable him to focus on his studies. Owing to this smaller role, he took a much lower share in the company. This explains why Jawed Karim is almost obscure to the public. The media scarcely recognized him as a YouTube co-founder until 2006 when Google acquired the website.

Jawed Karim after YouTube

In November 2006, Google procured YouTube for $1.65 billion. Notwithstanding his small share in the company, Karim received 137, 443 shares of stock worth $64 million from the sale.

In October 2006, Jawed Karim delivered a lecture titled YouTube; from Concept to Hyper-Growth at the annual ACM Conference of the University of Illinois. In May 2007, he delivered the university’s 136th Commencement Speech. Aged 27 at the time, Karim became the youngest commencement speaker in the history of the school.

In March 2008, Karim launched ‘Youniversity Ventures’ in collaboration with Kevin Hartz and Keith Rabois. The company which is a venture fund aims at helping people with innovative products in managing capital and mentorship. Karim is also one of the pioneer investors of Airbnb, having contributed to the company’s seed capital in April 2009.

Jawed Karim lives in Palo Alto, California where he keeps a low profile. Although the YouTube co-founder prefers to keep his personal life under wraps, he has severally stepped out with British writer, Kia Abdullah. He is, however, single as of 2019.


Featured Today

Related Stories