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A Companion to New Media Dynamics by Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, John Hartley

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Chapter 28

The Politics of “Platforms”

Tarleton Gillespie

Back in October 2006, Google purchased YouTube for US$1.65 billion. The press release announcing the purchase included quotes from the two proud fathers, trumpeting the potential symbiosis of their companies' partnership:

“The YouTube team has built an exciting and powerful media platform that complements Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful,” said Eric Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Google.…

“By joining forces with Google, we can benefit from its global reach and technology leadership to deliver a more comprehensive entertainment experience for our users and to create new opportunities for our partners,” said Chad Hurley, CEO and Co-Founder of YouTube. “I'm confident that with this partnership we'll have the flexibility and resources needed to pursue our goal of building the next-generation platform for serving media worldwide.” (YouTube 2006a)

Around six months later, YouTube made a slight change to the paragraph it used to describe its service in all of its press releases. This “website,” “company,” “service,” “forum,” and “community” was now also a “distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small” (YouTube 2007c).

Intermediaries such as YouTube—those companies that provide storage, navigation, and delivery of the digital content of others—are working to establish a viable, long-term position in a fluctuating economic ...

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