Houston Community News >> Chinese Media Chooses YouTube Guru as the Person of the Year

1/15/2007 SAN FRANCISCO – Looking back in 2006, one of the brightest new stars is 28-year-old YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, who led the second wave of the Internet. He is the World Journal’s Person of the Year for 2006.

In June 2006, Chen and co-founder Chad Hurley were among the “50 People Who Matter” in Business 2.0 magazine. Ranked at number 28, Chen was highest ranking Chinese American on the list. In Oct. 2006, Google purchased YouTube at a record $1.65 billion, making the acquisition one of the most-watched in the world. In November, Time magazine name YouTube the “Invention of the Year.”

This year, Time magazine named “You” as the “Person of the Year.” Like Hurley and Chen, the person of the year is an ordinary person who changed the lives of others through satisfying a personal need. These ordinary people on the Internet have revolutionized the way we live and became extraordinary heroes on the Internet.

YouTube has risen to meteorite status in the virtual world, but there is nothing virtual about Chen’s success.

Chen met with the World Journal on a December afternoon in 2006. He arrived at the interview at a café near Fisherman’s Wharf. With his signature bright, earnest smile, he looked a bit like the title character of “The Little Prince” by famed French author Antoine de Saint Exupery.

“Being named the Person of the Year by the World Journal probably means more to my parents than being in Time Magazine. They would be very happy and proud,” Chen says.

Chen immigrated to the United States with his parents from Taiwan when he was 8 years old. With an adventurous, risk-taking spirit, he grasped the once-in-a-life opportunity to work for PayPal, another innovative Silicon Valley company. He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign without getting his degree, but this daring decision would change the rest of his life.

Chen and co-founders Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim wanted a way for their friends to share videos online. The company’s website allows users to upload videos easily and to watch other videos instantly using Macromedia’s FlashPlayer. In the process they have created a never-before-seen video-sharing website that became an overnight success. Within a year, YouTube’s popularity would eclipse that of many other sites, including MySpace. By July 2006, 100 million video clips are viewed daily on the site, with 20 million visitors each month. The “YouTube phenomenon” has become a mover in technology innovation.

These days, Chen says he can still walk on the street without being recognized. His Taiwanese parents, who live in Los Angeles, still keep a low profile about their son. Chen’s father is a businessman in Shanghai; his young brother is a student in Ohio. As a young immigrant who moved to the United States when he finished second grade, Chen says that he only has fragmented memories of Taiwan. But he says he feels a strong connection with the country. He has visited Taiwan four times since immigrating to the United States in 1986, and says he plans to explore how to strengthen ties to Taiwan using his new success.

“I want to help elevate international recognition of Taiwan and also to create an environment that can mentor more technology companies,” he says. Chen says that America is a place where one can realize dreams, but it isn’t the only place with opportunities.

When asked to describe himself, Chen chose “humble” as the adjective that best describe him. He says he tries hard to treat everyone equally. “Every idea is worth discussion,” he says, “and you can learn something from every competitor.”

For young Chinese Americans, Chen had a piece of advice” If you have a good idea, you must be willing to invest all your energy in it. It isn’t easy: too many people are working just for a paycheck and benefits.”

(Contributed by World Journal)