Why Every Media CEO Should Be At VidCon

Ignore these fans at your peril

If you’re a media CEO and you are not attending VidCon, think about the Kodak moment. Even if you’re a multi-billion company with thousands of employees, if you’re not ready for radical change, in a few years you might not exist.

I’m on a plane from Brussels, where my startup is being built, bound for sunny Los Angeles to attend YouTube’s annual extravaganza for Creators, Media Experts, and Fans. My team and I are setting up meetings with other video and media executives, and yet, a lot of key contacts are not attending.


It’s always been fashionable for the establishment to discount the rise of something new. The story is simple and quite predictable.

First, they dismiss online video as a fad. Second, they do not believe that their business model could ever be disrupted by the masses. Then they say, “get back to me when it’s a mature business model.” This happened with radio when TV launched, it happened with TV when cable launched, and now we are in the midst of yet another revolution, which is being discounted yet again.

Let me be clear, YouTube is not the future, it is the present. VidCon is proof of that.

VidCon has grown from 1,400 attendees in 2010 to about 18,000 last year, and for it’s 6th year, attendance will be at full capacity, taking up five floors of the Anaheim Convention Center.

You probably already know YouTube has 1 billion visitors a month, but what are they watching?

As it turns out, people watch a lot of Education videos, two times more than cat videos. In fact, more than 100M hours of how-to content has been watched in North America so far this year.

My startup, konoz (https://konoz.io) is part of this global change, and we are introducing it to the world at this year’s VidCon. We curate and organize YouTube educational videos into courses you can follow, and we make it possible for creators to receive direct contributions from their fans.

There are over 100,000 Education Creators on YouTube, with hundreds of millions of people watching their content, learning new things. But the numbers don’t speak as loudly as the quality of the content produced. Not all Creators are good, of course, but a surprising number of them produce well researched, engaging, and informative educational videos, of a quality much higher than what you see on TV, and sometimes comparable or even superior to what schools and overpriced universities can provide.

Take some of my favorite channels:

  • Vsauce: interesting and provoking questions, answered in a flow of consciousness that makes you rethink your assumptions about the world;
  • Control System Lectures: classical control theory explained by an asteroid miner, Khan Academy style;
  • Every Frame a Painting: insightful film analysis in pop-style from a real-life film editor;
  • MinutePhysics: difficult physics concepts explained in minutes, with simple animations;
  • Kurz Gesagt: science, minimalism, colors and music, combined to tell stories;

These channels have a dedicated and incredibly supportive fan base, in some cases millions of people, and they all started with one lonely person using a cheap camera and some off-the-shelf editing software, but they shared something fundamental: great expertise on a subject area, relentless passion, and the irresistible desire to share their knowledge.

In my mind, there is no question that the future of education is online. For many people, it’s already the present: 67% of millennials agree that they can find a YouTube video on anything they want to learn. Users who watch videos on YouTube’s homepage are up more than 3x year over year, and total “watch time” in the second quarter of 2015 jumped 60 percent year-on-year, its fastest growth rate in two years.

These numbers are destined to grow, and clearly mobile native apps will play a bigger role as we move forward. YouTube is the present, but Facebook is banging hard at the door, with over 3 billion video views per day and growing. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to expect Facebook attracting talent, quality content, and providing serious APIs for third party apps, once they go through this obligatory clickbait phase.

At konoz, we are ready to embrace change and to create value on top of the existing zeitgeist, by focusing on quality, openness, and direct support from the fans. This year’s VidCon will be our first live encounter with so many Creators, and we’re excited to see where this journey will bring us.

Learn something new today https://konoz.io

Already a YouTube Creator? : https://konoz.io/teach

Federico Pistono
Founder and CEO, konoz