One of the most prominent women in the tech world – and one of Google’s first employees – is leaving the company.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who ran the world’s largest video site for the past nine years, is stepping down. She is replaced by Neal Mohan, her old lieutenant.
In a letter to YouTube employees, Wojcicki said she was leaving to “start a new chapter focused on my family, health and personal projects that I’m passionate about.”
During her tenure, YouTube grew in importance to the company for Google, which bought the site in 2006, and Alphabet, the holding company that houses them both: By 2022, YouTube generated $29.2 billion in ad sales — more than 10 percent of revenue from Alphabet. the total turnover.
Wojcicki’s departure also has meaningful symbolism for Google and technology in general. For years she has been one of the few women to run a huge technology company. And she was an integral part of Google’s founding — she famously rented out her Silicon Valley garage to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, and joined the company a year later as its 16th employee.
“Susan has a unique place in Google’s history and has made the most incredible contribution to products used by people around the world,” Page and Brin said in a statement. “We are so grateful for everything she has done over the past 25 years.”
Wojcicki started at Google running marketing, helped build his online advertising business, and at one point ran the company’s video service trying to compete with YouTube. Ultimately, she argued that Google should buy the site instead.
During her tenure as YouTube’s leader, she made it a point to increase accessibility for advertisers while simultaneously trying to harass a huge and unruly group of creators who ran the site.
That regularly drew criticism from both creators, who said YouTube’s rule changes and moderation decisions made it difficult for them to make a living, and outsiders, who said the company wasn’t tough enough to handle hate speech and other objectionable content. “We managed to upset everyone,” Wojcicki told me in a 2019 interview.
Wojcicki has worked closely with Mohan, her successor, for many years. The two first worked together building Google’s display advertising business, and Mohan has been Wojcicki’s number 2 on YouTube since 2015.
“Susan has built an exceptional team and has a successor in Neal who is ready to take off and lead YouTube through the next decade of success,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement.
Below is the full text of Wojcicki’s letter to its employees:
Subject: A personal update
Twenty-five years ago, I made the decision to build a new search engine with a few Stanford graduates. Their names were Larry and Sergey. I saw the potential of what they were building, which was incredibly exciting, and even though the company only had a few users and no revenue, I decided to join the team.
It would be one of the best decisions of my life.
Over the years I’ve worn many hats and done so many things: managed marketing, co-developed Google Image Search, spearheaded Google’s first video and book search, as well as early parts of AdSense’s creation, worked on YouTube’s acquisitions and DoubleClick , was SVP Ads and CEO of YouTube for the past nine years. I took on every challenge that came my way because it had a mission that benefited the lives of so many people around the world: find information, tell stories, and support creators, artists, and small businesses. I am so proud of everything we have achieved. It was exciting, meaningful and all-consuming.
Today, after nearly 25 years here, I’ve decided to leave my role as head of YouTube behind and start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects that I’m passionate about.
The time is right for me, and I feel able to do this because we have a great leadership team at YouTube. When I joined YouTube nine years ago, one of my first priorities was to bring in a great leadership team. Neal Mohan was one of those leaders and he will be the SVP and new head of YouTube. I spent almost 15 years of my career with Neal, first when he came to Google with the acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007 and as his role evolved to SVP of Display and Video Ads. In 2015, he became Chief Product Officer of YouTube. He has since built a world-class product and UX team, played a critical role in launching some of our biggest products including YouTube TV, YouTube Music and Premium and Shorts, and led and ensured our Trust and Safety team that YouTube fulfills its responsibility as a global platform. He has a great sense of our product, our company, our maker and user communities, and our employees. Neal is going to be a great leader for YouTube.
With everything we do in Shorts, streaming and subscriptions, along with the promises of AI, YouTube’s most exciting opportunities lie ahead, and Neal is the right person to lead us.
To all the YouTubers I’ve had the pleasure of working with, you’ve done so much over the years to make this platform better. You created the largest creative economy the world has ever seen, enabled entirely new forms of art and storytelling, and supported millions of creators and artists to reach new audiences – all while investing in responsible growth so that this brilliant community of creators, artists, viewers and advertisers could not only coexist, but thrive together. Thank you!
As for me, in the short term, I plan to support and help Neal through the transition, which includes continuing to work with some of the YouTube teams, coaching team members, and meeting creators. In the longer term, I’ve agreed with Sundar to take on an advisory role for Google and Alphabet. This allows me to call on my various experiences over the years to provide advice and guidance on Google and the portfolio of Alphabet companies. It’s an incredibly important time for Google – it reminds me of the early days – incredible product and technology innovation, tremendous opportunity, and a healthy disdain for the impossible.
And beyond that, I’m still here, so I have the chance to thank the thousands of people from around the company and the world who I’ve worked with and learned from. But for now I want to thank Sundar for his leadership, support and vision over the years. I also want to thank Larry and Sergey for inviting me on what has truly been the adventure of a lifetime. I’ve always dreamed of working for a company with a mission that could change the world for the better. Thanks to you and your vision, I have been given the opportunity to make that dream come true. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of it, and I’m excited about the future.
Thanks for everything,