In the fall of 2012, then-YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar and his lieutenants set an audacious goal: increase the collective “watch time” for YouTube videos by an order of magnitude, to a billion hours per day, by the end of 2016. That would represent about 20% of all the time people spend watching television.
The billion-hour target, employees were told, would be more important than other metrics, including revenue. It would guide every major decision. And it would be hard to reach, especially because Google-owned YouTube isn’t accessible in China.