The three founding members of YouTube.
The three founding members of YouTube.
YouTube’s founding team. Image: Jawed Karim

YouTube began with three PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who initially conceived it as an online dating service.

Hurley grew up around technology; he won third place in a national electronic competition in 9th grade with an amplifier he’d built, and by college, spent his time online studying web design, gaming, and tinkering with animation. Artistic and creative, he decided to switch his major from computer science to graphic design and printmaking while at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Coming out of school, he came across an article about PayPal.

Hurley told his family on a…


How the challenges we face in today’s digital age can be traced back to one of the most significant yet underrated innovations of all time—writing.

A black and white image of Ernest Hemingway writing on a notepad.
A black and white image of Ernest Hemingway writing on a notepad.
Ernest Hemingway writing. Image: Wortman

When you think “technology”, writing seldom comes to mind. Yet, the creation of writing remains one of the single most important human inventions of all time, giving humanity a history and a means to share information, disseminate science, and tell jokes. With every technological leap in history, knowledge becomes more widely distributed and easier to access; the trade-off being an evermore difficult race to maintain quality and preserve our attention. Now, more than ever, we ought to be conscious of these themes and lessons in history as we build for and live within our new digital reality.

A brief history…


If only we could build them the same way we build products

Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park.
Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park.
Mainstreet, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Image: Joshua Sudock

A dream place. There’s a place that’s been intentionally designed, down to the smallest, most excruciating detail, to make visitors feel warm and joy.

Disneyland.

During construction, a contractor wanted to use plastic in place of wrought iron. Walt Disney shut down the idea, insisting that everything needed to feel real and authentic. Disneyland needed to suspend belief. Everything from the soft edges of the architecture down to the texture of pebbles on the ground needed to draw visitors into the story. Walt would say to John Hench, the Creative Director of The Disney Company:

“You get down to Disneyland…


Every startup has a crisp, neat origin story. The one Reed Hastings tells of Netflix goes like this: He gets slapped with a $40 fine by Blockbuster for his late Apollo 13 rental. Annoyed by the crappy service, he thinks as every founder struck with an idea does, there’s got to be a better way. Netflix, a content behemoth, employs the power of narrative to draw its audience of talent, partners, and investors. But in truth, it was never clear in the beginning that Netflix was a good idea. …


A brief history

Bret Taylor is most known for his startup successes; FriendFeed which sold to Facebook for $50M in 2009 and Quip, to Salesforce for $750M in 2016. Less talked about, is Taylor’s early work on a product that made $0 in 2003. He was a young PM at Google, and the product happened to be a little thing called Google Maps.

In 2003, Taylor had an idea simmering in his head that users could search by location. The problem was that Google had no maps; therefore, the feature had no legs. There seemed a clear opportunity in mapping…


It’s wild to think Google, the web’s biggest search engine, was conceived by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a school project.

Maybe “school project” sounds too trivial considering the two were Stanford PhD students working on what started as Page’s dissertation topic. Here’s a brief rundown on the history of Google as we know it.


Clew’s Deep Dives offer a closer look at some of the most loved search-related products.

A brief history

The story goes that sometime in 2004, Jeremy Stoppelman came down with the flu and looked up reviews for local doctors only to come up empty. Annoyed but inspired, he partnered with fellow PayPal engineer Russel Simmons and approached Max Levchin at MRL Ventures with the pitch for a business that let people crowdsource recommendations from strangers on the internet. Without even a deck prepared, the two friends managed to convince Levchin to invest $1M in what would become the massively popular review site, Yelp. Originally, Stoppelman pushed for the name “Yocal”, a play on “Yellow Pages”…


Canadian-born entrepreneur and his backstory — a timeline of events before Slack’s IPO announcement.

Slack — you have maybe heard of it. It’s heralded as an “email killer” and has changed the way employees communicate in the workplace. Behind it is Canadian serial-entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield, a British Colombia native with an unlikely origin story.

45 years ago, little Dharma Jeremy Butterfield was born in a commune out of a small fishing town called Lund in BC. His parents were hippies, and for the first three years of his life, he lived in a log cabin in the backwoods with no running water. In a U-turn fashion, his parents moved the family to Victoria and…


Canadian-born entrepreneur and his backstory — a timeline of events before Slack’s IPO announcement.

Slack — you have maybe heard of it. It’s heralded as an “email killer” and has changed the way employees communicate in the workplace. Behind it is Canadian serial-entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield, a British Colombia native with an unlikely origin story.

45 years ago, little Dharma Jeremy Butterfield was born in a commune out of a small fishing town called Lund in BC. His parents were hippies, and for the first three years of his life, he lived in a log cabin in the backwoods with no running water. In a U-turn fashion, his parents moved the family to Victoria and…


Canadian-born entrepreneur and his backstory— a timeline of events before Slack’s IPO announcement.

Slack — you have may heard of it. It’s heralded as an “email killer” and has changed the way employees communicate in the workplace. Behind it is Canadian serial-entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield, a British Colombia native with an unlikely origin story.

45 years ago, little Dharma Jeremy Butterfield was born in a commune out of a small fishing town called Lund in BC. His parents were hippies, and for the first three years of his life, he lived in a log cabin in the backwoods with no running water. In a U-turn fashion, his parents moved the family to Victoria and…

Haishan Qian

canadian | pastry fiend | co-founder @ clew.ai (yc s20)

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