Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mr. YouTube Goes to Washington

Chad Hurley, chief executive and co-founder of YouTube, went to Washington this week to testify on behalf of an open Internet. Hurley told members of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet that a non-discriminatory Internet was the key to the success of YouTube and other Web innovations.

>> Watch our video blog featuring Hurley and others

Mr. YouTube Goes To Washington:
Watch the Video

Because of an open Internet YouTube was able to solve people's problems with creating and sharing online video, he said.

"We were able to develop a service that was able to compete with [others] in the market. And because of that we have been able to provide a service that has been helpful for people and able to spur innovation in the video market online."

Neutrality Sparks Innovation

Hurley was joined at the witness table by Blake Krikorian, chairman and CEO of Sling Media. Krikorian told the subcommittee that the success of his businesses was contingent upon the open and neutral architecture of the Internet. "Because of the open Internet ... we were able to develop a service that could compete with [much larger] competitors in the market," Hurley said.

If he had gone to venture capitalists with a plan that said he needed to first gain approval from network providers like AT&T, "we would have just been kicked in the pants out the door," Krikorian said, adding:
"Things are being created every day that none of us ever thought about before. Without having that open flexibility there's just no way in heck this stuff could ever come to life."

Making the Next YouTube Possible

"I think the future of video will depend ... on how we resolve" the issue of Net Neutrality, Rep. Anna Eshoo of California told the witnesses. "Consumers must be able to access that content in the manner in which they choose."

After the hearing, Hurley told subcommittee chairman Ed Markey that an open Internet allowed YouTube to start its business. "We were on the same playing field as everyone else on the Internet, starting out of our garage working on this project," he said, adding:
"Because of that we were able to compete. At the same time consumers had the same ability to upload content on our site, to view content on our site without anyone discriminating."

Hurley and Krikorian's comments echo those made before them by World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners Lee.

Net Neutrality has allowed the Internet to become a true competitive marketplace with low barriers to entry, equal opportunity and consumer choice.

This open architecture will allow the next Googles, YouTubes and eBays of the world to emerge out of dorm rooms or garages or anywhere else where creative ideas are born.

If you remove Net Neutrality from the Internet you remove this economic creativity. The market tilts in favor the networks gatekeepers and against real innovation.

Next week subcommittee chair Markey plans to convene a panel of witnesses to discuss ways to better map Broadband penetration in America to find better ways to get open and broadband to more people. Stay tuned.

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