Childhood & Early Life
Jawed was born on October 28, 1979, in Merseburg, East Germany (Present day Germany) to Christine Karim and Naimul Karim. His father is a researcher from Bangladesh while his mother is a German scientist associated with the University of Minnesota as a research professor of biochemistry. He has a sister, Ilias.
During the early 1980s, he relocated to West Germany with his family after crossing the inner German border and was raised in Neuss. In 1992, his family relocated to Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, where he attended Saint Paul Central High School.
He enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, in the department of computer science. He joined PayPal and left the university campus before completing his graduation. He was as one of PayPal’s early employees. He, however, continued to complete his course and obtained a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2004. Thereafter, he joined Stanford University and earned a master's degree in computer science.
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Karim did an Internship in 1998 with the American high-performance computing manufacturer, Silicon Graphics Inc. that produces both computer hardware and software. There he had to work on 3D voxel data management for huge data sets for volume rendering.
He was one of the earliest employees of PayPal, the American company that operates an online payments system worldwide. There he came into contact with two other early employees of the company, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley. In 2005, the three created the video sharing website, YouTube. Karim designed and implemented several core components of PayPal which included real-time anti-fraud system.
According to Karim, the inspiration of developing YouTube came when he could not find video clips of two events easily. These included the clips of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy involving Janet Jackson and that of Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, both happened in 2004. Hurley and Chen mentioned that the concept of creating YouTube was originally inspired from the rating site, Hot or Not.
On February 14, 2005, the domain name of YouTube was activated while the site was gradually developed in the next few months. It commenced as a venture capital-funded technology startup company with primary investments of $11.5 million from American venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, and an $8 million from Artis Capital Management. Originally the headquarters of the company was located in San Mateo, California, above a pizzeria and a Japanese restaurant.
On April 23, 2005, Karim created his YouTube channel ‘jawed’ and uploaded the first video on the video-sharing website. The video titled ‘Me at the zoo’ was recorded by his high school friend Yakov Lapitsky and featured Karim at the San Diego Zoo. The video has already garnered over 54.6 million views while his channel has over 354 K subscribers.
Following the creation and development of YouTube with Chen and Hurley, Karim became an adviser of the company. Meanwhile, he continued pursuing his studies and enrolled at the Stanford University to complete his graduation in computer science. To focus on his studies, Karim became an informal adviser of the company instead of an employee at the time of launch of the website, in February 2005.
Due to such smaller role in YouTube, Karim not only received much lower share in the company compared to the other two co-founders, but also remained mostly unrecognised and out of the public glare as the third founder of YouTube till the time Google bought the website for US$1.65 billion in November 2006. Karim received 137,443 shares of stock, which, based on closing stock price of Google at that time, amounted to around $64 million.
Meanwhile, he delivered a lecture at the annual ACM Conference of the University of Illinois on the history of YouTube in October 2006. During the lecture titled ‘YouTube: From Concept to Hyper-growth,’ Karim tagged Wikipedia as an innovative social experiment. In May 2007, he became the youngest Commencement Speaker (and the 136th) in the history of the University of Illinois.
He partnered with Kevin Hartz and Keith Rabois to launch Youniversity Ventures, a venture fund in March 2008.
In April 2009, he invested in the initial Seed round of the San Francisco based company called Airbnb, Inc., which runs an online marketplace and hospitality service. With this he became one of the initial investors of the company that was founded in August 2008.
When YouTube made it mandatory that all comments on the videos of the website will be through a Google+ account, it met with widespread opposition from the YouTube community. More than 240K signatories made an online petition for reversion of this move. Karim also displayed his disapproval of this change by writing "why the ....do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?" on his YouTube account. He also went on to update the video description of 'Me at the zoo' ... ‘I can't comment here anymore, since I don't want a Google+ account.’
Several of Karim’s articles on programming has been published in the United Business Media published US monthly journal, Dr. Dobb's Journal (DDJ).