Tuesday’s letter from YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl to its 2 million–strong creator community—announcing that original content chief Susanne Daniels had resigned—read like the final salvo in YouTube’s recent PR campaign touting its creator economy successes.
Consider: When Daniels started in her role in 2016, she was commissioning original scripted series with per-episode budgets in the single-digit millions to serve to subscribers of YouTube Red, the company’s then-new premium service costing $9.99 a month. The first episode of the highest-profile series she brought in, “Cobra Kai,” has been viewed nearly 133 million times since its 2018 premier.
Six weeks ago, however, YouTube’s top-earning creator, Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, posted a real-life version of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” which he produced on a $3.5 million dollar budget but released for free. That now has 206 million views and counting. (Incidentally, since “Cobra Kai” jumped to Netflix in 2020, it’s become one of that service’s most-watched series, with 274 million hours of viewage.)