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YouTube CEO: Not planning enabled best life decisions

Every minute, 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube, which claims more than one billion users worldwide
YouTube CEO on balancing work and personal lives 05:34

Every minute, 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube, which claims more than one billion users worldwide.

It's CEO Susan Wojcicki's job to try to turn all those clicks into cash. She did it once as the principal architect of parent company Google's ad program.

Wojcicki and her husband gave Google its first home.

"My husband and I had first bought a house ... and we had a mortgage ... and they needed a place to start the company," Wojcicki said. "And so we figured, 'Well, why don't they just move in? And that will solve our mortgage problem and-- that will solve their office space problem.' I wasn't really sure what they were doing."

Susan Wojcicki on competing with sister 00:43

Wojcicki grew up with two sisters in Silicon Valley -- before it was known as Silicon Valley. She went from being Google's landlord in 1998 to its 16th employee a year later, its first female executive and its first mother within four months.

At that time, the idea of maternity leave was nonexistent at Google.

"No one had gone on maternity leave, so they were not really sure what the process was or policy was," she said.

Now, YouTube, which Google owns and where Wojcicki became CEO in 2014, has special parking and nursing rooms for moms-to-be, in addition to known perks like full kitchens and free food at its headquarters. Although work time can resemble playtime here, family time is serious business.

"I always made the 6:00 to 9:00 period family time so I could be with our kids, be home for dinner. And I still do that today," Wojcicki said. "And what I found also is people enjoy it 'cause other people also want to go home and be with their families."

Using her personal experience and powerful platform, Wojcicki has advocated for government-mandated, paid maternity leave. She wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last December while pregnant with her fifth child.

"There's about $2 trillion of spend that's determined by women and moms. And so having women in the workforce is really, really important for us," Wojcicki said. "And when I thought about what it was like to come back to work after 10 days, after I had just had my fifth child -- on day ten, I was thinking, 'Wow. What if I had to go back right now?' And I don't think I could have done it."

It was Wojcicki who pushed for Google's nearly $2 billion purchase of YouTube in 2006, before most of the world knew what online video was. Since then, YouTube has been valued at up to $40 billion dollars.

That's in part because, of the three billion people on the planet who have Internet access, one third use YouTube.

Yet one big question remains: Does it make a profit?

"Right now, we're investing in YouTube," Wojcicki said. "I think we're still pretty early in the online video market ... and so really, our focus has been in investing in it as opposed to making a profit right now."

Wojcicki said the company is working on enabling a subscription service for users who want choice in seeing content without ads.

"Then we also think that it's an opportunity for our partners to be able to also have other revenue models too," Wojcicki said.

While YouTube has been called "endless, endless streams of garbage," Wojcicki refutes the claim.

"YouTube has so much great content. And it really has something for everybody. And people come up to me all the time and talk to me about how YouTube has changed their life how they've been able to learn something they didn't think they could learn," Wojcicki said.

That kind of chance discovery isn't foreign to Wojcicki who, especially for a CEO, has a surprising piece of advice: don't over-plan your life.

"I have found it's really hard to plan. I think about my own career and when I graduated from college, the Internet didn't really exist yet. And so not having a specific plan, being able to be opportunistic at the end, is what enabled me to make some of my best decisions, which is to go to places that were growing, but that I didn't plan to have happen," Wojcicki said.

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