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YouTube's Susan Wojcicki on the creator economy, competition, and staying ahead of misinformation 

Susan Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA, speaking in the A Conversation with Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 May. Congress Centre - Accelerate. Copyright: World Economic Forum/Mattias Nutt

YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki speaking at Davos 2022 Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
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  • YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki explains how YouTube is tackling free speech in an era of increasing misinformation.

YouTube is one of the world's largest digital media platforms, but with its increased scale comes increased attention from bad actors and misinformation. YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki discussed that challenge and shared the strategies the company is using to balance free speech and public trust in a special one-on-one session at the Annual Meeting in Davos.

"I think there'll always be work that we have to do because there will always be incentives for people to be creating misinformation," said Wojcicki. The challenge will be to keep staying ahead of that."

Read the transcript below.

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Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Hello, Davos. It is so nice to be with you in person. Even with warm weather! They should do warm weather Davos all the time, this is great. Okay.

Well, I'm here with a woman who needs absolutely no introduction, but I will try anyways. Susan Wojcicki was employee number 16 at Google. She now runs YouTube, and if YouTube were its own standalone company, it would be number 121 on the Fortune 500 list. She would be one of only 45 women to be on that list. She is one of the most powerful people in the world and in the world of business. She previously ran advertising for Google and the company was actually created in her garage. She was trying to get some money for rent and she rented it out to two guys who were building something and — Google. So thank you for that.

So, Susan, on a little bit of a serious note. Things are feeling a little bit dreary in Davos. I mean, it is rainy, yes. But also economically, things aren't looking so great. We just ran a survey of the Fortune 500 CEOs and 75% feel a recession is coming in the next year or two. So, when you're looking at that and you're running a big company like YouTube, how are you thinking about the rest of the year? How are you planning for a potential downturn?

Susan Wojcicki: Sure. Well, first of all, it's great to be here. And I agree, I like the nice weather. But if we look at the economy and we look at the situation, there definitely are a lot of concerning macro trends. I mean, the war, inflation in the US. But I would say with regard to YouTube's business and Google's business, we've always tried to take a long-term point of view and we see tremendous growth across the board. Technology continues to be an area of growth. We continue to see a lot of users moving to digital on demand type of content. And so, when you go through a downturn, I think it's important to keep that long term view. There may be areas where we may decide to delay starting a certain project. But in general, we're still saying this is an important business, we're going to grow, we're going to continue to invest here. What I have found is really interesting during downturns is that we actually get better at what we do. When your numbers are going up all the time, it's really easy to just be like, okay, you know, things are good. When they're going down or they're not going as fast as you expect, suddenly you are really digging into the details. And so having been through a couple of recessions at Google, that has been my experience. But I'd say in general, we're building for the long term and that's what we'll focus on.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Got it. So, no hiring freeze. Continuing, a little bit cautiously, but as planned. And that comes from what, three recessions you've watched at Google and YouTube?

Have you read?

Susan Wojcicki: Well, hopefully we won't have a third.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Exactly.

Susan Wojcicki: I have been through two so far. And it's challenging. I mean, there's no doubt about it. But I think you do come out of it stronger as a result.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: So one of the reasons that there is this dreariness is there's a war going on. And the war has definitely impacted all businesses, global businesses, and it's certainly impacted Google and YouTube. A lot of social media companies have actually been banned. YouTube has not. It's still up and running. You're not monetizing there anymore. But how do you view YouTube's role in times of war?

Susan Wojcicki: So YouTube definitely is still serving in Russia, like you mentioned, and as soon as the war broke out, we realized this was an incredibly important time for us to get it right with regard to our responsibility. And, you know, we made a number of really, really tough decisions. One of them involved how we handled Russian state-sponsored media. We had lots of requests from various governments. But looking at our policy framework, we also decided to suspend that media globally. We also extended our policies with regard to how we handle verified violent events. So, an event that denies something like the Holocaust would be against YouTube policies. And what we saw was if there was denial or trivialization associated with the conflict, with the war in Ukraine, that would also become a violation. So, the first and most important thing for us was to really focus on the responsibility, figure out how we could be good players in making sure that users can get authoritative and the right information. And what we're really seeing in this conflict is that information does play a key role, that information can be weaponized. And that's why we wanted to focus so much on making sure that we both have the right policies and the enforcement associated with that.

"What we're really seeing in this conflict is that information does play a key role, that information can be weaponized."

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

The reason we are still serving in Russia and we believe that that is important, is that we're able to deliver independent news into Russia. And so, the average citizen in Russia can access for free the same information that you can access here from Davos, which we believe is really important to be able to help citizens know what's going on and have perspectives from the outside world. We've also seen YouTube be used for all kinds of other humanitarian reasons, like medical doctors, like serving patients on the battlefield, education of kids in Ukraine, in Ukrainian language. So we definitely have seen a lot of really important humanitarian cases too.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Russia may not have banned YouTube yet, but at the same time it's trying to push people toward something called Rutube. And so there are these kind of clones popping up in other places. Do you view this as more of a one off or is this a trend where we might see social media instead of being global, start to be more local? I mean, you pair that with antitrust and how China's doing social media. There's a lot of different things at play here.

Susan Wojcicki: We've definitely seen new emerging players. Rutube I'm less sure about.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: It doesn't seem to be going well.

Susan Wojcicki: Yeah, it's I haven't use it to be fair, but where we do see a lot of growth is actually in short form content coming out of Asia where we've seen just a tremendous amount of new innovations and creation. And I do think video is a very competitive emerging market right now and expect us to continue to see more players.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: I think, you know, TikTok, obviously, that growth story has been pretty incredible to watch. YouTube has not been allowed to operate in China, but when China decides to create its own social media platform and puts a ton of resources behind it, and it can corner that market and then scale to the rest of the world. I mean, that's a pretty powerful recipe.

What does that mean for companies being created in the US? Does that threaten the US as a superpower? How do you think about that?

Susan Wojcicki: We definitely are seeing really strong competition coming out of China, particularly with TikTok. And, you know, we saw that grow relatively fast. I mean, I can tell you that you would not have asked me about TikTok at Davos last time that we held it. So that shows you just how quickly this is changing. And, you know, if you look at Tik Tok, too, they've had Douyin and they've had the opportunity to invest in China on the local market, and YouTube does not operate in China. So you could argue that, yes, it gives us some blind spot because they're developing a set of content there where we're not participating in that part of the market. So, I do think we'll see more competition coming out of China. They certainly have a lot of technical expertise and it's an area we should just be ready for and continue to invest in.

YouTube's Susan Wojcicki on the creator economy, competition, and staying ahead of misinformation
Alyson Shontell Lombardi, Editor-in-Chief, Fortune, USA Susan Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA, speaking in the A Conversation with Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 May Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: So short form video seems to be all the rage creators are really getting into it in a strong way. And you have YouTube shorts, I believe you have three S’s: shopping, shorts and streaming. Wo we can dig into each of them a little bit. But I'm curious about short form video. Is that a trend that's here to stay? The first ever YouTube video was only 18 seconds long, so maybe it's coming back to home a little bit for you. But how do you think about short form and what that will do to advertising?

Susan Wojcicki: So yes, the first video ever uploaded to YouTube ‘me at the zoo’ was only 18 seconds long and we do see short form like that growing tremendously. YouTube's invested a lot in what we call long form. It's actually funny that we're talking about YouTube now being a longer form content because traditionally it was shorter form, right, compared to linear TV, which was always 30 minute, 60 minutes. And so when we say long form, we're often talking about like 5 minutes. And that's just compared to TikTok that is often under a minute. So, we do definitely see that users are engaging a lot, particularly younger users, find that a really compelling media, we are investing a huge amount into it. We want to make sure that users can, you know, see that on YouTube. But we also think that creators really like it and it is attracting a new set of creators. And if you think about it, it's easier because you have just your phone. You don't have to create as much content. We can actually explore short form content a lot faster, meaning we can recommend a lot of new content to you because it's, in a sense, a lower risk for us. If we wanted to show you a new video, it's 5 minutes long and you don't like it, that would be a problem. Whereas we can just show you lots and lots of short form content and you can explore that and discover new creators. So, it is an area that we're investing a lot in. I expect to see a lot of competition there and it certainly is probably the fastest [growing] part of the market right now.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: And another part of the creator economy that you're growing there is shopping. What are YouTube's shopping ambitions? Are you going to go head-to-head with Amazon someday, or are you getting into that direction? Where is it heading?

Susan Wojcicki: So we see that people go to YouTube and they research a lot of products. We've read the surveys like there was a talk shop survey that said over 85% of people go and research products on YouTube. They make a faster decision as a result of the products that they see on YouTube. And YouTube also has a lot of how to where people are discovering new products or how to use- they want to do an art project. They want to do a makeup tutorial, they want to fix their car. And so, there is an opportunity to figure out, okay, well, what are the goods that I need? How do I how do I buy them to do this project that I'm seeing on YouTube? And so, what we've really wanted to do is just connect the ability to see them in the video to how to buy them. And it's really like connecting that last mile. And so what we're doing is enabling videos to actually link to specific products, have those products very accessible, and then be able to buy them afterwards. So, I don't think about us as competing directly with the retailers like Amazon. I think about us being a way for you to find products that you're already researching on YouTube, and potentially also find and discover more, more goods, right? YouTube is a sight, sound in motion. It's an opportunity to explore, see, feel, touch. And so we're hopeful that more users and brands will work with us to make it easy to purchase.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: And the third is streaming. So, talk about the fight to get into the living room and how that's going. There's a lot of competition. Seems like Apple can definitely win that space pretty easily if it wants to. And I think it wants to. How's it going?

Susan Wojcicki: Yeah, well, living room is a big space for us. We have in the US, for example, we have over 135 million people who are streaming into the living room. So, we think we're the largest media player in the living room and we think there's a lot more that we can do there. And if you think about it, it's because the content is on demand, it's nice to be in the living room to be able to see that. We're also working to be able to have your phone be a way of actually managing or potentially engaging with the videos that you see. And so we do see this as being a very successful way for our users to engage and to watch more content.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: And we'll see how that continues. I can't not ask you about misinformation. It is a problem that plagues every social media platform, but it definitely plagues YouTube. And I know you've done a lot to put policies in place, tweak algorithms to recommend the right things. But I have to wonder. In January, a global coalition of fact checking organizations found YouTube to be a major conduit of fake news, despite all that you've put in place.

So, is this just a flaw in social media platforms that cannot be rectified? I mean, can we ever actually solve this or is it just a problem that cannot be solved in the current way of platforms being operated?

Susan Wojcicki: We're definitely investing a huge amount to make sure that we're fighting misinformation, and there are a number of different ways that we look at this.

So, the first would be from a policy standpoint, we would look at content that we would think about in terms of being violative of our policies. So if you look at COVID, for example, we came up with ten different policies that we said would be violative. Like an example of that would be saying that COVID came from something other than a virus. And we did see people attacking 5G equipment, for example, because they thought that it was causing COVID. And so that would just be an example of a policy that we would remove. So we do remove content based on those policies. We actually publish that in a transparency report.

The second one would be really raising up authoritative information. So if you are dealing with a sensitive subject like news, health, science, we are going to make sure that what we're recommending is coming from a trusted, well known publisher that can be reliable. And, you know, if you think about how Google works, it's very similar. Like if you type in cancer, you type in COVID, what you're going to get are going to be names that you recognize. They're not going to be someone that just published a webpage yesterday. So it's very similar with regard to how we handle that on YouTube.

The third is making sure that if there's content that's borderline content that technically meets our policy but is lower quality, that's content that we basically will not recommend to our users. Our users can still access it, but they will not recommend it. And then lastly, we're just really careful about what we monetize. So, we always want to make sure that there's no incentive. So, for example, with regard to climate change, we don't monetize any kind of climate change material. So, there's no incentive for you to keep publishing that material that is propagating something that is generally understood as not accurate information.

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So, I mean, misinformation is not new to the internet. It's been around since before, you know, for all time. But we definitely see that there is a role for and there is a risk. And that's why we have put a lot of effort. I have this report that you cited. I haven't seen that report, but there certainly are many other reports that give us a good grade there. And I think if you look at the work that we have done across the board, it really shows a very significant improvement. We came out with a set of data that we thought was really useful, which is how much content that is violative are we not catching with our enforcement? And that is about 10 to 12 videos per 100,000 views. And if you look at the chart in terms of how that's changed over time, that number has come down significantly and our plan is to continue to work on it and make sure that we continue to reduce that.

"There'll always be work that we have to do. There will always be incentives for people to be creating misinformation."

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: So it sounds like, bury, to the extent that you can, things that are not credible sources and don't recommend. But it also still sounds like a work in progress, do you think it always will be a work in progress?

Susan Wojcicki: I think there'll always be work that we have to do because there will always be incentives for people to be creating misinformation. And the challenge will be to keep staying ahead of that, and make sure that we are understanding what they are and the different ways that people may use to try to trick our systems and make sure that our systems are staying ahead of what's necessary to make sure that we are managing that. So, I think there'll always be work. But after all this work that we have put in, this has been a huge initiative for us for at least over, you know, five, six years. I think we've come a long way. And I would challenge you if you go and you look and you do a search or you look at your home page in terms of what you're seeing when it comes to sensitive topics, you're going to see them coming from more authoritative sources.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Okay. Moving to antitrust. There's a lot that could impact big tech and certainly Alphabet Google. How are you navigating that internally with the broader executive team?

Susan Wojcicki: Well, antitrust is definitely a big issue. You know, I think there's certain legislation that's in place. In general, what I'm mostly focused on is just how can we do the right thing for our users, our advertisers, our creators. And if I look at what those demands are from those three constituents that we serve, they're not necessarily asking me for something that I'm hearing from the regulators with regard to antitrust. So, my goal is how do I provide the best content for our users? How do we make sure advertisers get the return. And our creator economy, which has really grown significantly, which is powering a lot of jobs, a lot of GDP, how do we make sure that we continue to grow that? So, like in the U.S. alone, YouTube provides 20 billion in GDP and almost 400,000 jobs. So, you know, again, we're always open to hearing we work with many governments. We want to hear what their concerns are. But my focus mostly has just been serving our constituents. And as regulation comes out, we'll continue to work and discuss with regulators.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: And you mentioned, obviously, YouTube was maybe the first creator economy company. Now, there's a number of them. But you were the first. Are we in a creator economy bubbles like can everybody just continue to be infinite creators making money and quitting their jobs and, you know, creating livable wages on YouTube and other places? Or is this going to burst?

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Susan Wojcicki: Well, not everyone, but there are many people who like to be creators, and certainly with short form content, we see more people wanting to be creators. But we are seeing a lot of growth. This is a real career for people. And if we look at the number of creators, for example, who are generating $10,000 or more, we've seen a 40% increase just, in the last year. And we do see people start a channel. A lot of times it's about their passion, about something that they care about, a hobby. So, for example, there was this channel that just got started during the pandemic. It was called Made with Lau. It was a family that had a Chinese restaurant, and they went out of business during the pandemic, like a lot of restaurants, because they didn't have customers and they started a channel. It's a father and son. They now have over 750,000 (subscribers). It actually has really amazing food that you see at all the Chinese restaurants, like how to actually cook it. So I do believe this is a real opportunity. And creators are media companies. They have a brand, they have a global audience. They produce content. They hire people to do products, editing, all the rest. So, I think we're going to continue to see more creators. And what we see is that creators have actually expanded, that other platforms have now embraced that and other platforms are now trying to get creators to come on their platform. And, you know, we also see a lot of advertisers are now engaging with creators to try to figure out how they can have them work with their product and continue to promote their own products.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: It definitely seems like the hot job. We did a Gen Z survey when I was at Business Insider and the number one job of Gen Z was they all want to be creators. They want to be YouTube influencers and stars, which is kind of terrifying when you're a mom of five, if one of your kids is like, “Hey, mom, can I be a YouTube creator?” Is that good for the world? Is that what you want for your kid creators?

Susan Wojcicki: We’ll see young adults who will say that they want to be a creator. And I think a lot of times kids, you know, certainly will continue to evolve. And, you know, they say like they want to be musicians and they want to have all kinds of jobs that attracts fame and fortune. Right. I mean, those are very popular jobs and obviously not everyone can achieve that. But, you know, we certainly see that, on the whole, this is a growing economy. They are real jobs. And we do see that, you know, when someone creates a channel, if you have someone becoming a creator, they need to talk about what's important to them, like choosing a topic, articulating it, presenting it well. And we also want to make sure that people can do that in a private way, not just like- sometimes people don't always want to share that with the world, but they may want to just do it for their family, or a way of sharing that privately, which is I think is really important option as well.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Yeah, but you do limit screen time and things or you did when they were growing up?

Susan Wojcicki: I do limit screen time for younger kids. I mean, I grew up without the internet. I grew up without technology. And I think it's really important for there to always be balance. And there's a lot of benefits of technology, there's a lot of information you can look up. There's a lot of ways you can have access that you never had beforehand. But like anything, too much of anything is not a good thing and you want to have balance. So that's what I personally have recommended. But I realize that parenting is very personal. Everyone has their own perspective, and so I can only really speak for myself.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Yeah, fair enough. Well, it's a really tough time to be a leader, so I want to ask you some leadership questions that probably a lot of people are grappling with. First and foremost, more than ever there's a lot of pressure to weigh in on societal issues for CEOs. You can't just sit on the sidelines and have your employee base be okay with it or even your customer base to be okay with it. You kind of have to take a side and have an opinion. In the States, one of the big things happening right now is Roe v Wade, which is the women's right to an abortion. A lot of executives have not spoken out about this. It's complicated. If they do, it could be illegal, at some point. But Susan, I do have to ask you, you are one of the most powerful women in the world and you're an incredibly powerful executive. So, what is your stance on Roe v Wade?

Susan Wojcicki: My stance is that women should have a choice when they become a mother. I believe that's really important. I believe that reproductive rights are human rights. And to take away a law and a right that we've had for almost 50 years will be a big setback for women. But that's my personal view, running a company that has a rule that really focuses on free speech. We want to make sure that we're enabling a broad set of opinions that everyone has a right to express their point of view, provided they meet our community guidelines. So, this is going to be complicated legislation, as you said, like people will want us to speak out on it. It's also draft right now. And so, there's not definitive language like once we saw it, we started to look and try to anticipate what kind of changes that would have for our business.

For example, employees like what kind of benefits would we want to offer to employees who could be in states where abortion is no longer allowed? Or what implications could that have for our advertising business? Maybe content, misinformation? There could be ways that could be be spun, for example, people saying, “oh, abortion is not allowed in the state” when it really is. So, this has led us to realize that there's going to be a lot of work for us to understand what this legislation is and what are the right ways for us to comply with it.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: And how are you talking to your employees about it? Are they demanding answers from leadership? How is that going, talking to employees about sensitive situations like this?

Susan Wojcicki: Well, employees always ask us lots of questions. I do a company all-hands every Friday where anyone in the company can ask me anything. And so, as you can imagine, I get a lot of questions about everything following our business and things that don't even involve our business. This is a decision that is, of course, completely out of our hands. Our goal generally is to speak up on the issues that we see really matter to our employees and that really matter to our user base. And this is an issue that is going to have dramatic implications. Because it's early and it's draft, we haven't spoken internally at a high level, but we're still waiting to understand what the final wording is and what the final implications are. And based on what is actual real, then, you know, will take whatever are necessary steps in terms of having to comply with it, but also try to figure out how to make sure that we are supporting our employees and doing what we can to interpret this in a way that makes sense for our user base and employees.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi, Editor-in-Chief, Fortune, USA  Susan Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA, speaking in the A Conversation with Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 May
Alyson Shontell Lombardi, Editor-in-Chief, Fortune, USA Susan Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA, speaking in the A Conversation with Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 May Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Well, thank you for your candor on a really difficult topic. I appreciate it. Another topic that people are really grappling with running companies is the return to the office. It’s really hard!

And Google and Alphabet and YouTube are trying to do probably one of the most ambitious things on the planet, which is bring hybrid into reality. It's sort of a mandate to do three days a week, started April 4th. How is that going? It seems like the gold standard, you want it to work, but really, really hard.

Susan Wojcicki: It's been good and bad is probably the honest answer. I think good in the sense that it's really great to see coworkers we haven't seen for a long time. It's fun to bring everyone back together. That said, now that we're bringing people back together, I realise a lot of people have actually moved and are no longer in the same location. So, we just had a lot of people move during the pandemic and we are a much more distributed company than we ever were beforehand. We also are now three days a week, which actually I don't know how we did five days a week. I think we all adjusted to being at home. So that's definitely an adjustment.

And what I'm also seeing is that people are coming into the office, but they might not be coming in at the same times that they used to be coming in. And maybe that's okay because there was a lot of time spent commuting and that's not necessarily a good use of time. You're not with your family, you're not doing work. And so, we may see people doing things like doing some work coming in later to miss a commute time. Come in, do the most important meetings and then go back home. So, it is an adjustment. I think there's a lot of tech investments that need to continue to evolve.

I got used to seeing every single person in a little box with their name underneath. I could tell when they were talking. I actually really like the closed captioning. So if I missed something, I can see that — I missed that in real life. I'm like: “Where's the closed captioning?” I wish, I wish you could have that. But then when you put 20 people in there in a conference room, it's really hard to tell who was talking, how can they see you? So, I still think there's work to do on the tech for hybrid and we're still adjusting. And then, you know, also in the Bay Area, we just had a surge. So even though people were coming back, a lot of people had COVID. We have clear policies around this, but you as a company have to come up with it. Like, if you're sitting next to someone and they're like, “oh, yeah, everyone in my family has COVID right now.” It could be an uncomfortable moment and technically- so, I mean, we have rules about how we handle that, what's required. But it's something we're all still figuring out.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: So for final question, as I mentioned earlier, if YouTube was a standalone company, you'd be the 45th woman to be running a Fortune 500 company. I think YouTube would actually fall about number 121. The team pulled the numbers right before this interview.

Susan Wojcicki: Is that using our ads revenue?

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Yes.

Susan Wojcicki: Yes, we also have subscription revenue.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Subscription, right? Yes. So, you'd be higher.

Susan Wojcicki: I just needed to get that out there.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Maybe you’d be in the Fortune 100, there you go. Is that something that you'd like to solidify someday? Do you think you've got a great gig at YouTube? No doubt, but how do you think about the CEO progression, your role? And then, on a separate note, a lot of younger generations aren't aspiring to the C-suite anymore. There's this anti-hustle culture setting in where they just think they'll never make it. They think the system is unfair. So how do you think about your own C-suite journey and how would you think about the fact that maybe others don't want that right now?

Susan Wojcicki: Well, my journey was not to be in the C-suite, necessarily. I mean, just to be clear, I joined a company with no revenue at all, with no real business plan. And I just joined because I thought it was really interesting. And they were doing important things for the world, which was delivering information. And I immediately saw the value and then I worked at Google for a long time and did ads and then I came to YouTube, right? Which also was much smaller. But I saw again the same thing, a lot of value in enabling new ways of communication and new types of media and new points of view.

So my personal career advice that I took and that I give to others is to find something that's meaningful to you, that where you believe you're doing something good for the world. And if you do that, then you will most likely have a productive career. And if you say, “Oh, like I just want to be in the C-suite” it's like harder to have a productive career, right? Because that's not necessarily a clear role that you can follow or figure out, you know, how to how to do that. And in some ways it really helped me, because I was just always willing to say more controversial things. I would just say, this is my point of view. I'm working for our users, our creators and our advertisers. And if I think something is the right thing to do, I'll just say that and it might not be the popular point of view, but that's okay.

"Find something that's meaningful to you, that where you believe you're doing something good for the world. And if you do that, then you will most likely have a productive career."

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: You suggested buying YouTube, right? And you put together a whole presentation.

Susan Wojcicki: Yeah, I suggested buying YouTube. It wasn't necessarily a popular point of view. Mark Cuban actually the week beforehand said only a moron would buy YouTube.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: So you bought it.

Susan Wojcicki: So we bought it. I think it's really important to be able to think for yourself and and realize what's important, what matters to my constituents. Who am I working for? Why am I working? Why am I doing all this? And so I have really focused on trying to do something productive and good for the world. My whole career has been about information, information empowerment, and that is that's led me to where I am right now. And it just happened to be that I was in the C-suite.

Actually, when I first joined YouTube, my title was not CEO. So, Wikipedia immediately recognized that there should be a CEO of YouTube. But technically my title was SVP of YouTube, and I had to explain to people externally that I was acting like the CEO, because if there wasn't a CEO, they'd be like, “Well, who? Who is the CEO?” But my internal title was initially SVP. And so, I had to work it out that yes, my title was CEO of YouTube. So again, I think that's just the same message, which is: focus on what's important, don't focus on the title, don't focus on title, don’t the things that don't really matter. The things that matter are doing something valuable and important for the world and being able to do that well.

Alyson Shontell Lombardi: Okay. Well, Susan, everybody, thank you so much for joining me.

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