Code Red: a behind the scenes look at YouTube’s decision to sell out

Inside the red and white headquarters of the established YouTube Corporation, an emergen­cy board meeting had been called. The men and women in pressed suits sat around the polished white table, chatting about their day while the CEO sat at the front with a grave expression.

“Gentlemen. Ladies. Please settle down. It has come to my attention that, as of late, the number of YouTube users has been plummet­ing faster than the demand for Apple’s latest phones after they changed the size of its head­phone jack,” said the CEO.

The board members listened intently as the CEO cleared her throat and continued with a frightfully unnerving calm, “I can assure you that I was very surprised to hear this just after returning from my relaxing three-week vacation in the Cayman Islands. So, I have called every­one to this emergency meeting to ask how and why everything went to hell while I was away?”

“I don’t quite understand what you’re saying, Madame President. We thought everything was going fine, better than fine, better than Vine,” said one of the board members.

“Yeah, I don’t see what the big deal is. Our stock prices have tripled since the last quarter!” said another.

The entire boardroom nodded in approval as members high-fived each other.

The CEO rubbed her temples and let out a frustrated sigh. “Yes, I see the increase in reve­nue and I agree that’s good to hear. I just want to know why YouTube, the most popular platform for viewing web videos on the Internet, has sud­denly lost all of its followers in three weeks!”

“Do you think it’s Pewdiepie? His fanbase has resurged in popularity recently,” the Chief mar­keting director pointed out.

All the board members all nodded in agree­ment. The CEO grabbed her office chair and threw it on the table with a crash. Everyone flinched and sank down in their seats until only their eyes were peeking out. The wheels of the office chair wobbled as the CEO started pacing.

“We were set to be the fastest growing com­pany on the Interwebs! 1.6 billion people visit our website daily to watch stupid videos for hours at a time and now everyone on the Inter­net apparently hates us. Does no one know?” demanded the CEO.

“We can’t understand it either. We thought our target audience would love YouTube Red­der,” admitted a clean-shaven man smoking a rolled-up thousand dollar bill. He was the fi­nance director of the company. He inhaled the fumes in a sophisticated manner but ended up swallowing a bunch of cash ash and succumbed to a coughing fit. The CEO stopped pacing.

“YouTube Redder?” she asked. “What the hell is YouTube Redder?”

The finance director tried to regain his com­posure as he got up and took another whiff at his crumpled pipe. “Simply put, it’s like a better version of YouTube Red. Viewers can pay to never see an ad again and have access to even more exclusive shows. Hence the name, Redder, like ‘more Red.’”

The CEO gave him a puzzled look, “Oh, so it’s basically Netflix or maybe Spotify with a differ­ent color scheme. It has a stupid name but I can deal with that. But then how come we’re losing to Bing in popularity?”

“Well, those common folk weren’t signing up for YouTube Redder. They didn’t see the point of paying more for a carbon copy of YouTube Red, so we had to take some drastic measures,” said the finance director while nonchalantly taking a sip from his cup of coffee.

“What measures?” asked the CEO as she gave a piercing, icy glare. The finance director sud­denly lost all his bravado and trembled in his fancy black Salvatore Ferragamo loafers. He muttered something the CEO couldn’t hear. She then promptly slammed her fist on the table, leaving a large jagged crack.

“I didn’t hear that. Mind if you speak a little louder?” asked the CEO with a deadly smile.

“We blocked all non-subscribers from access­ing any of the videos unless they paid us and threatened to ban channels if they didn’t obey our commands. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry–”

With that same pleasant smile, the CEO picked up the cup of coffee and tipped it over fi­nance director’s receding hairline. He sputtered and fell off his chair. The boardroom let out an audible gasp as several took out their phones to film the twitching finance director to post on YouTube later. The CEO looked up at the board­room with disgust.

“So this is what you all have been doing while I was gone. If no one fills me in on exactly ev­erything you did right now, trust me, coffee stains will be the least of your problems,” she said.

“But Madame President! Everything we did was for the good of our financial holdings! We had executives from Hollywood pay us $3.9 bil­lion to remove videos that depicted copyrighted footage. Most of those videos followed the Fair Use copyright disclaimer, but still, that’s $3.9 bil­lion!” exclaimed the Chief legal officer.

“Also, I would like to add that we personal­ly adopted Honda and Geico as paid sponsors. We thought putting their ads in YouTube Red would give people more incentives to sign up for YouTube Redder,” pointed out the Chief communications officer with a naive smile.

Both the chief legal officer and the chief com­munications officer were hit with swivel chairs.

The CEO stood up with a sigh. In times like these, she wished she had never even men­tioned YouTube to her supervisors in Google all those years ago. “Well it seems I’ve hired a bunch of idiots. I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing how the foundation of our company is website where people make a living off of making stupid faces in front of a camera.”

She paced around the room thoughtfully now that her anger had subsided. It was still her job to make sure this ship didn’t crash and sink, “Thankfully for you all, we can still patch everything up and regain our viewers. Johnson, arrange an apology video to the YouTube com­munity. Michelle, get the Fine Brothers on the phone. They should know firsthand what to do with public backlash after selling out. Remem­ber everyone: people always need us. Besides, the average American’s attention span is ten seconds. By next week, everyone will have for­gotten everything and will come crawling back.”

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