Making Mo’ Money for Creators on YouTube

  By Shriram Appan, Class of 2019

By Shriram Appan, Class of 2019

Imagine being on a live stream on YouTube with your manager and playing games in front of thousands of viewers during your internship. Or witnessing an impromptu rap battle by Wyclef Jean in office. Well, that was a peek into my internship at YouTube over the summer.

I spent the summer at YouTube in the SF Bay Area as a Product Manager intern. My life revolves around the Google product ecosystem, and it had always been a dream to build products at Google. YouTube is one of the most used and loved Internet products, and so when I received the Google internship offer I naturally entered YouTube as my first preference.

I was part of a new team at YouTube called Paid Digital Goods. Digital goods are virtual goods like stickers and badges used by fans to express their following of their top creators and to stand out in the YouTube community. This was inspired by the proliferation of digital goods on social platforms like Snapchat, WeChat and on content platforms like Twitch. Our team helped creators monetize fans by creating opportunities for fans to purchase such digital goods.

I worked closely with a 10-member engineering team and a designer. On my first day, my manager provided me with a structured document covering key project goals. My first project was to create an experimentation-based growth plan for one of our earliest features: Super Chat. I waded into the complex world of experimentation and analysis platforms to come up with recommendations. My friend through this process was Moma, an internal search engine plus Wiki combined. I could easily dig up obscure documents and figure out who to ping to chase up for more information. And surprisingly, everyone was extremely responsive and happy to help.

Over the summer, I worked on two more exciting projects: revamping the creator management flows for these monetization features and defining the launch of a virtual coin on YouTube to reduce user friction in conducting microtransactions on digital goods. I learnt a lot about rigour in user research and crafting a compelling product, but the biggest insight was the importance of persuasive communication and the art of storytelling to help ideas break through the clutter in a big organization. I promptly enrolled in Prof Weitzman’s Persuasion course and Public Speaking Group’s Storytelling class after coming back to Booth!

 Part of the Booth crew soaks up the sun in a vineyard at a Google intern event

Part of the Booth crew soaks up the sun in a vineyard at a Google intern event

This account would not be complete without talking about the amazing food at Google offices. Every lunch was an exercise in restraint to not overindulge in the amazing spread, and Google kept us well stuffed with breakfast and dinner as well! I also enjoyed the wonderful California weather and opportunities for outdoor activities. Google organized a few fun intern activities like a boat cruise and an afternoon trip to a vineyard. A lot of the Google PM interns also managed to hang out a few times despite the logistical challenges of coordinating between Mountain View, San Bruno and San Francisco. Between the fun weekends, friendly people and the exciting work at YouTube, I am firmly on the Bay Area tech bandwagon, and look forward to contributing my bit to products many million users love.