Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Special Offer: Try out The Information today for only $10/month for your first 3 months. 

The Problem with Being YouTube Famous

Here’s an issue for all those media firms jockeying to cash in on the enormously popular YouTube stars and their giant audiences: is the nature of the medium making stars out of people too early, stunting their chances of growing into sustainable acts?

That question came to mind at last month’s Vidcon—the annual conference of online video stars, where Youtube fans get a chance to interact with their favorite personalities, while media executives watch from above. (Literally. All the media industry panels featuring media company executives are held on the Anaheim Convention Center’s top floor).

One evening at the nearby Hilton, I saw a young guy making his way up the escalator. He was a pudgy kid and awkward in a way that’s particular to middle school boys. But there was something about him that displayed an underlying confidence. Soon it was clear why. At the top of the escalator, a girl went up to him and said that she loved his Vines. He thanked her, they took a picture together and parted ways. Then another girl came up to him and said he was hilarious. Thanks! Selfie! Goodbye. That happened at least three more times in as many minutes.

What Is The Information?

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Get access to our reporters and other top executives with monthly deep-dive calls into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

What else is included in my subscription?

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Annual Subscriber only benefits:

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Crypto Newsletter

Our experts investigate the latest in the crypto world to keep you in-the-know about the movements of digital currencies.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles


In Producing for Apple and Disney, Warriors’ Durant Wants Ownership

By Beejoli Shah


Why Roku Acquisition Could Make Sense for Disney or Walmart

By Tom Dotan


Apple May Offer Cut-Priced Bundles With Video Offering

By Jessica Toonkel and Tom Dotan

Amazon Google E-commerce

Google’s New Plan to Challenge Amazon for Shoppers

By Priya Anand

If you go with the premise that this moment (and entire convention) is a testament to the technology of the era, then it becomes an interesting thought experiment to wonder what would happen if YouTube and smartphones were around at another time.