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Leadership at YouTube: Susan Wojcicki Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 26th, 2022

YouTube is a US-based online video-sharing platform that allows all users to upload, view, comment, and share videos. In 15 years since its foundation, YouTube has become the second most visited website in the world with a total number of daily active users of 30 million. The revenue of the company continues to grow and amounted to $15.1 billion in 2019, which was a 36% increase from the 2018 figures (“YouTube by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts”, 2020). Since 2014, YouTube has been led by Susan Wojcicki, the longest-tenured CEO to date. Educated at Harvard and the University of California, Wojcicki was involved in the founding of Google and was the person behind Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006.

Today, YouTube is more than just entertainment: it is a powerful platform that shapes public opinion, responsible for the emergence of many influencers and superstars. Online videos are revolutionizing the learning process, making education more accessible and democratic worldwide (Lynch, 2020). Aside from that, the platform has helped citizens and government officials to come together and see eye to eye. Because of the leverage that YouTube has today, it has to be strategic about its vision and the ethical side of things. As expressed by the company itself, the platform’s mission is “to give everyone a voice and show them the world (“About Youtube”, n.d.). YouTube’s vision revolves around four freedoms: freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of opportunity, and freedom to belong (“About Youtube”, n.d.).

From the very start, it was Wojcicki who saw the potential of YouTube a year after it was founded. During her involvement and eventual assumption of the highest position at the company, Wojcicki has demonstrated many valuable leadership qualities:

  1. Integrity. Wojcicki’s leadership has been marked with important changes regarding videos that violate the platform’s policy. In particular, the creators who promoted violent extremism and used hate speech are banned from the platform;
  2. Resilience. A platform that capitalizes on the freedom of expression is especially vulnerable to controversies that have so far been handled promptly by YouTube’s leadership.
  3. Vision. Wojcicki has always been on the lookout for new trends and opportunities. Her efforts resulted in the introduction of channel memberships, merchandise, and Super Chat that allowed creators to monetize their content in more ways than usual. Additionally, the CEO oversaw the development of the subscription service YouTube Premium that unlocks creators’ exclusive content advertisement-free. Wojcicki (2020) emphasizes the value of educational content and invests in grants and promotion for scientific and learning channels.

From the description, it is safe to assume that Wojcicki’s preferred leadership style is autocratic leadership. As the key person of the company, she has to think long-term and foresee new trends. Her leadership is characterized by the ability to not only develop a strategic vision for the but also communicate it to others, making them adopt the new ideas. This is what Wojcicki has been best at doing ever since her days as a marketing director at Google. Aside from that, YouTube’s CEO can stay true to the corporate philosophy. When the popular YouTuber Logan Paul was criticized for making a video about his trip to Japan’s suicide forest, Wojcicki took his side (Newton, 2018). The leader explained that Paul was free to discuss the topic of his liking and did not violate any community policies such as not encouraging suicide.

References

. (n.d.). YouTube.

Lynch, M. (2020). . The Tech Advocate.

Newton, C. (2018). . The Verge.

Wojcicki, S. (2020). .

(2020). Omnicore.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Leadership at YouTube: Susan Wojcicki'. 26 February.

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