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Former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim developed YouTube in 2005 and the site's conception story depends on which of the three founders you ask. Hurley and Chen say the idea sprang from how hard it was to share videos at a dinner party while Karim says he thought up the site when he couldn't easily find videos of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction' during the 2004 Super Bowl as well as the Indian Ocean tsunami the same year.
Whatever the case, YouTube's domain name was registered on February 14, 2005 and it launched as a video dating platform supposedly influenced by Hot or Not. With the slogan "Tune in, Hook up," the founders intended for users to upload videos introducing themselves. After five days without a single upload, they posted Craigslist ads in Las Vegas and Los Angeles requesting women to upload videos of themselves for $20. No one did.
It wasn't long before people began using the service to share videos of everything from their pets to their vacations and the developers encouraged this by June of 2005, revamping the site to make it more generalized.
A year later in October 2006 the company was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion in stock.