YouTube CEO resigns, severing long-standing ties with Google

Susan Wojcicki, a longtime Google executive who played a key role in founding the company, is stepping down as YouTube CEO after the past nine years at the helm of the video site that transformed entertainment, culture and politics.

In an email to YouTube employees shared publicly on Thursday, Wojcicki, 54, said she is leaving to “start a new chapter focused on my family, my health and my personal projects, that I care about.” closer to their plans.

Neal Mohan, who has worked closely with Wojcicki for years, will replace her as YouTube CEO.

Though she became one of the most respected female executives in the male-dominated tech industry, Wojcicki will also be remembered as Google’s first landlady.

Shortly after Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated their search engine into a company in 1998, Wojcicki rented the garage of their home in Menlo Park, California, for $1,700 a month.

Page and Brin – both 25 at the time – spent five months honing their search engine in Wojcicki’s garage before moving Google to a more formal office and later persuading their former landlord to work for their company.

“It would be one of the best decisions of my life,” Wojcicki wrote in the announcement of her departure.

In 2006, Google bought Wojcicki’s house to serve as a memorial to the roots of a company that is now worth $1.2 trillion. During Wojcicki’s career at Google, Brin became her brother-in-law when he married her sister Anne in 2007. Brin and Anne Wojcicki divorced in 2015.

Wojcicki’s departure comes at a time when YouTube is facing one of its toughest times since Google bought a then-quirky video site in 2006 for an announced price of $1.65 billion that had faced widespread complaints of copyright infringement . The stock-only deal was valued at $1.76 billion at the time the transaction closed.

Although Google was initially ridiculed for paying so much for a video service whose future seemed in doubt, it turned out to be a steal. As well as becoming a cultural phenomenon attracting billions of viewers, YouTube has also become a financial success, generating $29 billion in advertising revenue last year. That was up from $8 billion in annual advertising revenue in 2017, when Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. began disclosing YouTube’s financial earnings.

But YouTube’s advertising revenue fell 5% year over year in the last six months of last year — the first prolonged decline the video service has seen since Alphabet lifted its financial curtain. Analysts fear the slump will continue this year, one of the reasons Alphabet’s stock price has fallen 11% since it released its last earnings report two weeks ago.

Wojcicki is also leaving just days before the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear hearings in a case that threatens the freewheeling style that has long been one of YouTube’s greatest assets.

The case follows the 2015 death of an American woman who was killed in Paris during an attack by the Islamic State in an incident that prompted the victim’s family to file a lawsuit alleging YouTube’s algorithms supported the recruitment of the terrorist group. If the court decides that tech companies can be held liable for material posted on their websites, the repercussions could not just destroy YouTube, but shake the entire internet, experts say.

That’s because under US law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material that users post on their networks. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 – itself part of a broader Telecoms Act – provides Internet companies with a legal “safe haven” – a protection which YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen took as an opportunity to launch a video site to ” to transfer itself”.


AP technology writer Barbara Ortutay and AP business writer Michelle Chapman contributed to this story.


This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the new YouTube CEO’s first name. It’s Neal Mohan, not Neil Mohan.

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