​How YouTube went from David to Goliath

The video sharing service has gone from scrappy upstart to one of the Internet's dominant companies, where hobbyists can fashion careers for themselves as YouTube celebs.

YouTube

YouTube generates more video in a day than you could reasonably watch in a lifetime. Not that true-blue YouTube fans don't TRY to watch it all. Our Cover Story is reported now by Norah O'Donnell of "CBS This Morning":

Last week, die-hard fans of YouTube descended on New York City for the annual fan meet-up. Everyone clamored to get closer to their idols and, of course, snap a selfie.

You'll be forgiven if the names Tyler Oakley, Dude Perfect or Lilly Singh don't ring a bell. You just haven't devoted enough of your life to YouTube, the website that has, in just ten years, re-defined the way the world consumes video: online, all the time.

To a generation practically born smartphone-in-hand, YouTube's small-screen celebrities loom larger-than-life ... bigger than anything Hollywood has to offer. When Variety recently polled American teens, the top five most-popular recognizable celebrities all came from YouTube. Poor Leonardo DiCaprio had to settle for 20th place.

But does YouTube create trends, or does it just keep up with them?

"I think it's both," said Kevin Allocca of YouTube. "I think you can see YouTube has become this sort of mirror of our culture."

Allocca's job title -- head of culture and trends -- translates into being on constant lookout for the next clip to go viral. Whether it's YouTube's all-time most-watched video, the Korean pop song "Gangnam Style" (with 2.3 billion views to date) ...

... or the work of Joseph Garret, know online as stampylonghead, whose uploads of himself playing video games are followed by more than five million people.

Yes, videos of people playing video games are some of YouTube's biggest draws.

"So do you ever look at one video and say, 'Wow, this is really popular and I just don't get it'?" asked O'Donnell.

"Oh yeah, all the time!" replied Allocca. "I think there are so many different things that become popular. And after a while you start to understand, 'Okay, this may not be something that I understand, but the people who are into this kind of thing love it,' right? And so you get used to that happening a lot."

Youtube claims to have a billion users, which is to say one out of seven people on Earth, making it a global stage open to virtually anyone.

According to YouTube, 300 hours of video is uploaded to the service every minute. "So it's an incredible amount of things," said Allocca. "Anyone, anywhere can have their voice heard. And that can be a very telling thing about where we are."

It's a far cry from April 23, 2005, when "Me at the Zoo" became YouTube's first video. Hardly a promising start. And yet, home videos of silly kids and cute cats, backyard stunts and bedroom confessionals began to attract thousands, then millions, of views.