On an ordinary September day in 1998, Susan Wojitski, a not well-known employee of the rather famous Intel corporation, decided to stay at home and not go anywhere to wait for the delivery of the refrigerator. She was showering when the truck with her purchase pulled up to her doorstep. However, going downstairs, she was surprised to find neither the delivery worker nor the promised refrigerator.
But, fortunately, it didn't take long to look for the loss. Right behind the kitchen wall, in her garage, Susan's acquisition was already appreciated by her tenants: Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
It is from Susan's garage that the history of the Google Corporation begins. It is from her refrigerator - a kind of informal corporate culture that still reigns in her. Mrs. Wojitski herself, by the way, was not at all offended by the impudent seizure of her refrigerator. And for good reason. In the future, this generosity will pay off in full: for the once donated refrigerator, she will eventually receive patronage over the most popular video hosting in the world and make a fortune of 480 million dollars (Forbes).
Susan Wojitski has been the CEO of YouTube since 2014, and it was in her head that most of the ideas about how a video hosting should function were born in order to attract advertisers, protect other people's copyrights and not annoy users. Her success story is a whole case, the most notable of which is that initially Susan, who grew up in Silicon Valley, did not even plan to connect her life with her.
Kings of Silicon Valley
Google itself is very fond of this story with Susan's garage. You can still find photographs of her former home on the Web, and this episode is described in many books on both the history of the company and business in general. On the other hand, Susan herself also considers her garage a great start for herself - and not only career.
When Ms Wojitski joined Google, she was four months pregnant. In fact, she quit a stable job at Intel, already promoted by that time, for a dubious project developed by two students. And all this is in anticipation of the child. It is important to understand that Susan and her husband Dennis were not renting out their living space for fun. “Yes, I needed money then,” admitted the YouTube CEO in an interview on the Recode Decode program. "I just bought a house, I had to pay my mortgage." But Wojitski, despite thousands of "against", nevertheless agreed to the proposal of Sergey and Larry - and forever entered the history of the company as "employee number 16".
“I think I've always been able to see things in advance,” Susan continued in the same conversation. - When I came to Google, people asked me: "Why are you getting a job there?" The company was very small at the time. But I saw the potential of Google, I saw how it will grow in the future. I saw the point in this, despite the fact that there were few like me."
Vojitski is by no means cunning when he speaks of his ability to “see ahead”. The ability to predict is still her most striking entrepreneurial trait, which helped her make many good decisions.
The woman who would later be called the "queen of Silicon Valley" never dreamed of a career in information technology. As a teenager, she dreamed of something completely different - about a history department.
It is interesting that Susan's story, like the biographies of many successful women, is still loved to be compared with the fairy tale of Cinderella, despite the fact that her main character Vojitski is united only by hard work. No, Susan was not Cinderella. She has always been a strategist who, among other things, was lucky enough to be born into a very intelligent and respected family. Stanley's father is a professor of physics at Stanford University. Esther's mother is a teacher-methodologist who managed to raise not one, but three surprisingly successful daughters at once (our heroine is the eldest).
As one of Susan's sisters, Anne Wojitski, once joked, in the society in which they were raised and raised, "a fetus is only considered viable when it receives a doctorate." Anne's fate, by the way, was also very successful: today she is the CEO of the biotechnology company 23andMe. Until 2015, she was married to Sergei Brin himself, from whom she has two children. Two more heirs worthy of entering a prestigious club called Silicon Valley's Royalty.
Susan's second sister, Janet, became famous in the United States as a respected anthropologist. In short, the Wojitski family took root in the intellectual environment of America for a long time. And, despite the fact that the girls' mother responsibly admitted that she always tried to give her daughters a choice in finding their destiny, the environment of Susan, Anne and Janet, obviously, influenced them completely.
“They were my educational experiment,” Esther proudly says about her motherhood in an interview with the American Forbes. - My goal was to see how early they learn all that I have to offer. I had fun from an early age teaching them how to swim, read, ride a bike, learn something about the area in which they live. Yes, you can start teaching children from an early age."
It is logical that Susan, like her sisters, began to show an interest in learning from childhood. But not science, but art, literature and history. Esther recalls that her eldest daughter was always persevering and very calm in nature: “If you have a difficult decision to make, talk to Susan. She always thinks sensibly, in any situation. " And perhaps with her thirst for knowledge and perfect discipline, there was no better solution than a career as a historian. Susan easily entered the university - but not to Stanford, where Sergei and Larry would later study, but to Harvard to study history and literature.
After completing her bachelor's degree, the responsible Miss Wojitski planned to become a "doctor" in economics. But in time I sensed a different trend. A trend that Eric Schmidt, trusted by Google founders, in a conversation with another legendary woman in the tech industry, will call "rocket" (more about this woman: "Queen of social networks: The story of Sheryl Sandberg, the second man on Facebook").
Mommy for Google
Susan, as is customary today to joke about those who do not understand anything in science (or do not want to understand anything), was a typical humanist. She began to master the basics of ICT quite late, but barely noticing the launch of that very "rocket", she made one of the most important decisions in her life: in her last year of history, Susan signed up for the CS50 course.
“I suddenly realized that I can produce some things, sell them, have influence,” the YouTube CEO recalled her suddenly awakened love for technology in an interview with Fast Company. - And then the Internet appears, which allows you to communicate being in different parts of the Earth. That was incredible".
CS50 is a legendary program, still one of the most popular among Harvard students. This is a course on the basics of programming, which, although it is designed for beginners, is structured in such a way that almost ready-made specialists come out of it. Susan, for example, got a job in Silicon Valley immediately after graduating from Harvard in 1990. Here she remained forever, continuing to invest in her education and pumping her resume with additional degrees in economics and an MBA.
And then there is again a set of balanced (and mostly successful) decisions. “I increasingly looked at Internet companies that welcomed innovation, drive and everything that was important to me personally,” Susan admits in an interview with the Financial Times. - And, of course, I knew the guys from Google, because they lived with me for five months. I was older than them, I had an MBA, I already worked. So, of course, I looked closely at these two students. Yes, that's how I perceived them: as students who launched their first company."
Pregnant with her first child, Susan probably instinctively began to regard Google and its founders as her children. She even associates her own offspring with any stage of her career. “I joined Google when I was the first to be pregnant, so I associate my eldest with Google. Then we worked on the team where we created Adsense, just as I got out of the second decree. I associate the third child with YouTube. Fourth - with DoubleClick, "the woman admitted back in 2014, before the birth of her fifth baby. When talking about Google and YouTube, she likes to use the verbs “grow” and “nurture” - as if she’s the mom herself for these companies.
But here's the interesting thing: Susan never let her job get ahead of her real family. She still adheres to the rules to return home at 6 pm and devote three hours of time to children and her husband. And, in fact, it was Wojitski who gave rise to the corporate culture at Google, focused on women. Something that will later be supported by other famous employees of the corporation. “Not only is Susan a great leader,” ex-colleague Sherrill Sandberg says of her, “she is a great friend to me and many women. She has become an invaluable mentor for us."
Ms Wojitski was the first female employee at Google and the first to need to take parental leave. And if Cheryl today actively encourages ladies to feel more confident in business and not be afraid to take the initiative into their own hands, then Susan … teaches all the same, in addition encouraging women not to be afraid of decrees and certainly not to worry about their career recovery. “Don't forget that things get easier over time,” Wojitski says. - Having a child changes life, but the really tight period associated with raising children is not so long. You may well survive it."
After gaining credibility as YouTube's CEO, Susan began to set aside her beliefs even more publicly. “When we at Google offered our female employees 18 weeks of paid parental leave, we noticed that the number of women leaving the company was reduced by 50%,” Wojitski said in 2016. And a year later, on the air of one of the TV shows, she wished the new US President to pay the most serious attention to the problem of motherhood and career.
Career and principles
Susan Wojitski has been working under the wing of Google for almost two decades, but she has become an independent media figure relatively recently. The peak of her popularity, of course, came in 2014, when the woman was appointed CEO of YouTube. Was it a sensation? Like any promotion of a woman in such an industry, there was. But truth be told, four years ago Susan got what she deserved for a long time, because if not for her, Google would not have bought YouTube at all.
During the 2000s, Wojitski was primarily involved in the development of advertising tools for Google. Fast Company calculates that she and her ideas helped boost the company's advertising activities from $ 400 million to $ 55 billion between 2002 and 2013. What were these ideas? For example, Susan was directly involved in the development of the famous AdWords, a contextual advertising service, and then AdSense.
She also had the idea to buy out YouTube.
One of the most successful and incredible deals of our time was concluded in 2006: Google then bought a brand new but promising video hosting service for a little more than half a billion dollars. A penny compared to how much YouTube with its 1.8 billion monthly active users is now - expert estimates even reach 100 billion. However, then even this amount seemed to Sergey and Larry a big risk. At that time, Susan was already developing the Google Video service with might and main, which, it would seem, could immediately knock a new competitor out of the market. But, according to Susan, their brainchild had no prospects.
As Wojitski herself admitted, she realized the mistake of Google, which relied on professional videos, when her own children literally fell in love with a silly video called "purple Muppet singing nonsense song", watching it over and over again. It was then that Susan realized: the future belongs to user-generated content (UGC), because only it can generate genuine emotions from billions of people around the world. Google Video significantly lost YouTube in its ability to quickly post such videos.
“It was real insight: people wanted to create content themselves, and others wanted to watch it,” recalled the YouTube CEO in 2017. “We have entered a new era in which content like this will be of particular value. I noticed this then, in 2006, and began to insist on buying YouTube."
Susan will tell you more than once that realizing Google Video's mistake was incredibly difficult. But, in the end, it was the recognition of failure that gave the company one of the best projects, which today is on a par with some search engines, or even overtakes them.
Interestingly, Susan received YouTube patronage just a year after her sister divorced Sergey Brin (the couple will officially divorce in 2015). Few doubted that family ties had an impact on Susan's career jump in those days. Wojitski herself, however, always insisted that no one in their family seeks to mix personal life and work. “Any breakup is hard for the family,” the woman said in an interview with FT. "But in terms of work, everything has remained the same." In addition, as the publication emphasized, Susan did not report to Sergei, but to Larry.
She has curated YouTube since the moment of purchase. In fact, at first it was a real cat in a poke. The bet on UGC, in the end, spawned discussions about copyright infringement, inappropriate content and even illegal collection of personal data (from which, however, almost any Internet project suffers). Problems still arise: in 2017, for example, several large advertisers at once refused to cooperate with YouTube, having discovered that video hosting is placing their ads in connection with videos of questionable content. Susan publicly apologized to her clients, then implementing a heavier filtering system on YouTube. In addition, she found a good compromise in front of users and advertisers: an advertisement that can be skipped after 5 seconds (the client will not pay for it if the video has not been watched to the end).
Mrs. Wojitski still considers the video hosting entrusted to her, if not as a startup, then as a very young project that has a lot to do and change (in the area of interest for Susan is the development of virtual reality). At one time, Google set itself a mission to organize information around the world. YouTube's mission statement sounds a bit different. “We really appreciate the role that YouTube plays in the ecosystem of freedom of expression,” Susan tells Fast Company. "We take this very seriously and want to do everything to make the voices of people around the world heard." In a sense, Mrs. Wojitski undertook to manage the deliberately disordered space. But she is optimistic: her instinct has never let her down.
Photo: Getty Images
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