Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Who Got the Loot? How YouTube Split Up Google’s Billions.

Google’s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube is perhaps the best-known transaction of the Web 2.0 era. Here, via court documents filed in the YouTube-Viacom case, is how some of that money got split up:

  • $516 million to Sequoia Capital, which invested $9 million in the company
  • $334 million to co-founder Chad Hurley
  • $301 million to co-founder Steve Chen
  • $85 million to Artis Capital, which invested $3 million
  • $66 million to co-founder Jawed Karim

These numbers are all from documents filed by Viacom (VIA); they also indicate that five other YouTube employees received shares worth a total of $33.4 million.

Bear in mind that these numbers are based on the closing price of Google’s stock on Nov. 13, 2006. Google (GOOG) shares have bounced around dramatically since then, so the actual value of the payout could vary quite a bit depending on when–or whether–recipients sold their shares.

Why is any of this relevant to the case? Viacom’s suggestion is that YouTube’s employees and investors were focused on a big payout and wanted to build the company quickly–and that they were willing to accept copyright violations if that helped them achieve their goal. Again, not sure if this will matter in the court’s eyes.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik