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Stanford junior gets YouTube job offer via Twitter

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Feross Aboukhadijeh ’12 made headlines last week after creating YouTube Instant, modeled after the new Google Instant, which allows search results to pop up with each new letter typed by the user.

Feross Aboukhadijeh
Feross Aboukhadijeh '12 is currently interning for Facebook. (Courtesy of Feross Aboukhadijeh)

On Thursday, Sept. 9, Aboukhadijeh worked on his site for only a few hours before posting it on his Facebook page. The next morning, he awoke to a media frenzy, including interview requests from The Washington Post—but even more surprising, he discovered a job offer from YouTube CEO Chad Hurley on Twitter.

The Daily sat down with Aboukhadijeh shortly after his job offer went viral.

Stanford Daily (SD): Where did the idea for YouTube Instant come from?

Feross Aboukhadijeh (FA): I watched the announcement of Google Instant about a week ago. After they announced it, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do the same thing with videos?” It just started out as a random idea.

(SD): So how did you create YouTube Instant so quickly?

(FA): The reason why I was able to do it so quickly was because I’ve done other websites in the past, and YouTube has this easy-to-use, really powerful API—application programming interface. It’s pretty easy to take some of their functionality and build upon it and do really cool things with it. My work was actually just the glue that fits in between all the YouTube videos and the user who’s visiting my site.

(SD): What did you think when YouTube CEO Chad Hurley offered you a job?

(FA): I thought, “Is this for real?” I mean, who would offer me a job for something like this, especially over Twitter? Was this some kind of joke? But he e-mailed me, and we set up a meeting for last Monday. We met over lunch, and we talked for a couple of hours about what he thought about the site. He’s really excited about the idea of potentially adding it to YouTube.com so that people would be able to search instantly, but it’s pretty complicated, and probably won’t be easy to do.

(SD): What’s the plan now, and have you received any other offers since?

(FA): I have a couple more days to decide what I want to do, but I think I’ll finish up my internship at Facebook over the next month, then I’ll work at YouTube part-time during the school year try to take classes at the same time. As for job offers, I’ve been getting e-mails from people with startups who are looking for programmers, but nothing as interesting as the YouTube offer.

(SD): What kind of feedback is YouTube Instant getting?

(FA): I’ve been getting mostly positive feedback, and honestly, it’s surprised me a lot because before this, I thought people on the Internet were generally mean people. I mean, if you look at the comments on any news site, people are just really nasty to each other. They’ve been saying that they really like it, that they really feel like it helps them browse YouTube faster. I didn’t think that people were going to use it that much, but I guess I was wrong.

(SD): What kind of audience did you have in mind when you created this site?

(FA): I think if you’re in a particular mode where you have time to kill and you’re looking to be entertained, my site works perfectly for that. That audience might have a general idea of what they want to watch, and they’ll start typing in whatever they might want to watch, but they’ll be distracted with what they type, because they’ll be shown a different video with each letter that they type. It all unites these interesting videos and distractions on their way to their destination, and if you’re in the mode of discovery rather than searching for an exact video that you want to watch, then my site’s perfect for that.