Since YouTube is so prevalent in most of our everyday lives, it seems hard to believe that it’s been around for less than a decade. Lots of us use YouTube on a daily basis, whether for songs, videos, or whatever may be lurking in its darkest corners. Not to be able to access the latest songs or viral videos at the touch of a button would be unthinkable for many, since we have all of this and more via the world’s most popular online video site. Since its beginnings, YouTube has helped to launch countless careers, including that of Justin Bieber, and an incredible seventy-two hours worth of video is uploaded all over the world every minute.
The site was originally founded by three ex-PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, in 2005. Karim has said that his inspiration for a site such as YouTube came from two well-publicised events which occurred in 2004: the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and the unfortunate Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl. YouTube’s first video, posted by Karim, was entitled “Me at the Zoo”, and showed Karim at the San Diego zoo discussing elephants’ trunks (thankfully, it was only nineteen seconds long…). In September of 2005, the site hosted its first one-million hit video, a Nike advert starring Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho that ‘went viral’ in the modern sense of the word. Since then, YouTube has acquired various investors, and was officially bought by Google for $1.65 billion in October of 2006 – a price we now know to have been a serious bargain. YouTube brought in its Partner Program, which allows people to get paid for their viral content, in 2007, and over the last seven years many people have been ‘professional YouTubers’ – with an elite few making six figures. This article profiles ten of the most successful — and thereby, the richest — YouTubers the world over.
10. RealAnnoyingOrange — $3.4 million
At two point one billion or so views, YouTuber RealAnnoyingOrange is at number ten. Having amassed in and around three point four million dollars over the course of the five years the channel has existed (the first video aired in October 2009), there is clearly something about the incredibly irritating format that appeals to the masses. The videos originally followed the Annoying Orange and recorded its interactions with other food items. Its creator, Dane Boedigheimer, says that the idea for the very first video popped into his head while he was falling asleep one night, when he began laughing in bed and was unable to explain himself to his girlfriend since he was too embarrassed at the idiocy of the idea. That set the tone for the show’s format fairly well, although it has unarguably proved successful, so much so that the web series is now a TV show on Cartoon Network.
9. UberHaxorNova – $3.5 million
UberHaxorNova, with a net worth of in and around three point five million dollars, is at number nine. With over one point three billion views, the simplicity of UberHaxorNova’s channel seems to be the key to its success. Relatively new onto the YouTube scene, UberHaxorNova, a.k.a. Nova, specialises in videos of him and sometimes other friends playing video games with added funny commentary. Nova has also participated in a few charity funds, and has done several animations.
8. RayWilliamJohnson – $4 million
YouTuber RayWilliamJohnson is at number eight, with about two point seven billion views. He has recently retired from video-making (as of March of this year), and could certainly afford to do so since his videos typically get more views than 99% of regular TV programming in the US. Johnson seemed to subscribe to the “get out while the going’s good” school of thought, saying in a Facebook post to his fans that he thought that he should retire the show while it’s going well, as opposed to accidentally running it into the ground. Johnson hosted the web series Equals 3, which discussed the most recent viral videos.
7. TobyGames – $4.2 million
TobyGames is at number seven, with in and around one point seven billion views, and an impressive net worth of around four point two million dollars. TobyGames focuses on Toby Joe Turner as he tries — and usually fails — to play various different games, such as Minecraft and Slender. Toby also has a few other channels, including the very successful Tobuscus, on which he showcases Tobuscus Adventures, an animated series.
6. JennaMarbles – $4.3 million
The first female YouTuber on this list is Jenna Marbles, with a net worth of about four point three million dollars. With around one point five billion views to her name, Jenna Mourey is the woman behind the channel. Jenna stars in her own videos, sometimes with the help of her tiny and enormous respective dogs, chihuahua Mr. Marbles and greyhound Kermit. Her videos usually take the form of amusing commentary on social situations, sometimes satirical, including videos “What Your Bra Means” and “How To Mildly Annoy Other People”
5. BluCollection – $4.8 million
With a net worth of four point eight million dollars, YouTuber BluCollection is at number five. With close on two billion views (one point seven eight to be exact), BluCollection is a toy channel which is run presumably by a man, although this can only be gauged by the hands seen in the videos and the disembodied voice which oohs and ahhs over various different toys. It is a simplistic yet extremely effective approach to YouTube videos, and has proved an enormous hit, especially with children. Apparently numerous toy and branding companies would like to work with and endorse BluCollection, but he remains infuriatingly elusive.
4. DisneyCollectorBR – $5 million
At number four is sister channel to BluCollection, DisneyCollectorBR, worth around five million dollars. This channel, with two point six billion views, is presumed to be run by a woman, again gauging only by the hands and the voice seen and heard in the channel’s videos. Speculation suggests that the owner of this BluCollection and the owner of DisneyCollectorBR are husband and wife, given that their channels are linked both in presentation and on YouTube. Whatever their relationship, their duo has certainly proved a lucrative one.
3. Smosh – $5.7 million
YouTuber Smosh is at number three, with a net worth of about five point seven million dollars. Smosh is a young web-based comedy duo of Anthony Padilla and Ian Andrew Hecox, who do — as you might imagine — strange, weird and amusing videos. Their niche might be described as skits of typically “nerdy” pursuits or games. Their channel is one of the most subscribed to on YouTube, which is no mean feat for two twenty-six year olds.
2. Yogscast (formerly BlueXephos) – $6.7 million
At number two it’s BlueXephos, with has a net worth of about six point seven million dollars. Now Yogscast, this channel is again run by a duo, Lewis and Simon, who have achieved a staggering two point four billion views since the channel was set up as BlueXephos. The channel describes itself as “Minecraft and multiplayer comedy gaming with a drunken dwarf and a handsome spaceman”, and if that doesn’t grab you, maybe the fact that their aim is to play and make fun of/enjoy indie games, Minecraft mods, adventure maps and mini-games will.
1. PewDiePie – $7 million
At number one, with an impressive net worth of seven million dollars and a staggering five point four billion views, is Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie. Real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, PewDiePie’s success arose from providing funny commentary on video games. In 2013, his channel overtook Smosh to be the most subscribed-to channel on YouTube.