Who - or what - is YouTube?

1 August 2019


YouTube is part of a whole universe of companies linked together. The parent company is Alphabet, Inc., founded in 2015 by Google founder Larry Page as a restructuring of Google. Most of the subsidiaries of Alphabet were projects or subsidiaries of Google, which is itself now a subsidiary of Alphabet. YouTube is still a subsidiary of Google. Google has multiple subsidiaries, including not only YouTube but also Search, Ads, Android, Cloud, Infrastructure, and Hardware.

YouTube was founded in 2005 and has only grown since then. It’s the second most visited website in the world (after Facebook), available in 91 countries. In 2017 YouTube already had 1.9 billion monthly active users. On mobile devices alone, YouTube reaches more viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 than TV and cable. Hundreds of hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute. And every day, users watch over 1 billion hours of video on YouTube. That’s more than Netflix and Facebook combined.


In 2018, Alphabet recorded profits of 30.7 billion US dollars — more than 2.5 times more than the previous year. But it was a smaller gain than expected, because the same year the European Union levied 5.1 billion US dollars in fines against the company. Of these, 4.3 billion was a fine for abuse of market power, or improper competition, in their deployment of the Android smartphone operating system. The fines were in fact more than Google paid that year worldwide in taxes (4.2 billion US dollars).


Where does all the money go? The biggest individual shareholders are Google founders Larry Page, with 5.86%, and Sergey Brin, with 5.52%. Investment companies including the Vanguard Group (6.07%) and BlackRock (3.64%) are also major shareholders.


Sources & more info (some in German):


Jens Minor, Aktuelle Struktur der Alphabet Inc.: Aus diesen Unternehmen besteht die Holding der Google-Mutter, GoogleWatchBlog, 28.01.2018


Michael Kroker, Die spannendsten Zahlen & Fakten rund um YouTube - Stand Mitte 2017, Wirtschaftswoche Blog, 11.10.2017


Alphabet, Alphabet Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2018 Results, 04.02.2019


Jörn Brien, Google: Mehr Strafen in der EU gezahlt als Steuern weltweit, t3n.de, 11.02.2019


Graeme Burton, Google now pays more money in EU fines than it pays in taxes, computing.co.uk, 05.02.2019



Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Google schleuste 20 Milliarden Euro durch Steuerschlupfloch, 04.01.2019