The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code

Monday 25 January 2021

Chances are you haven’t heard of him. YouTube’s highest paid earner in 2020, Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast), made $24 million from YouTube last year. This is the story of how he cracked the YouTube algorithm and amassed almost 52 million subscribers. 

To give you an idea of MrBeast’s reach, in the 28 days prior to this article being published, people spent more than 34 million hours watching his videos. Last year every video he posted got more than 20 million views. Aged just 22, he has taken the platform by storm and continues to make larger and larger videos (some recent titles include ‘I Bought Everything in 5 Stores’, ‘I Put 1,000,000 Christmas Lights on a House’ and ‘I Uber’d People and Let Them Keep the Car’). 

While many YouTubers try and get the most views for the least amount of effort, MrBeast bucks that trend. He’s spent 24 hours in a prison, then in an asylum and finally on a deserted island. He’s gone to a dog shelter and adopted every dog. His average cost to make a video (average length 10-20 min) is $300k. The most expensive video he’s ever produced cost $1.2 million. 

This is the new world of content. YouTubers with big budgets making even bigger money. While this story is about one of YouTube’s biggest stars, it should also serve as a reminder of the power of YouTube as a platform. While owned by Google, recent estimates have valued YouTube alone at $170 billion. With 2 billion monthly active users and 300 hours of video content uploaded every minute (yes, you read that right) it is such a powerful platform with no real rival in the user-generated video market. Until a platform like Vimeo can really disrupt YouTube, the next MrBeast and all other content creators will continue making content for YouTube and further entrench its dominance as a platform. 

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