Few people are so closely tied to Youtube as Ben Relles. The Wisconsin native has been creating content on the world’s leading online video platform since 2007. He joined the company as an executive in 2011 and has spent 11 years developing new, original programming for it.
Now, this mandate of more than ten years has come to an end. In a post on LinkedIn, Relles announced that he was “heading for a new opportunity.” He teamed up with Reid Hoffman and will work closely with the LinkedIn co-founder “on content strategy across a portfolio of his investments in AI, Web3, video, and other early-stage and growth-stage businesses.”
Relles developed a close relationship with Hoffman in 2020 when the two innovators came together for the Good to Vote campaign, launched by Relles and funded by Hoffman. As a result of this push, 150,000 people registered to vote. The couple continued their partnership when Relles helped Hoffman launch the 10th anniversary edition of the LinkedIn co-founder’s book, The startup of you. Relles said Tubular filter that the themes of this text—including “infinite learning, risk, and working in dynamic industries”—encouraged him to accept employment alongside Hoffman.
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Hoffman was the founding CEO of LinkedIn. The social media company was sold to Microsoft in 2016, and Hoffman joined Microsoft’s board of directors a year later. He is perhaps best known as an investor and he is one of the main members of the powerful VC film Greylock Partners.
“A big part of Reid’s vision is to create technology companies that scale and can enhance human potential. I’m excited about the kinds of social impact investments and projects that have that edge,” Relles said. Tubular filter. “Reid has a general belief that every tech company needs a content strategy, and that’s an important aspect of my role. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, metaverse projects, and other new media, I will have the chance to bring what I have learned about content and creators on YouTube to an incredible group of new businesses. »
Relles launched the Barely Political channel (now known as The Key of Awesome) in 2007. That same year, he joined the innovative new media company Next New networks, which Google acquired in 2011. Relles various roles at YouTube centered on content strategy, and he became a key member of the YouTube Originals team. The lessons he learned from this rich experience will be applied to his new role alongside Hoffman.
For example: Relles believes YouTube creators have a special ability to connect with their viewers. In an email to Tubular filter, he cited a survey of people under 30 conducted by YouTube. Respondents were asked to name their favorite celebrity, and the most common answer was player Markiplarwhich beat stars like Rihanna, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson.
“I think this survey speaks to what has separated YouTube from other media since around 2008, when content went from viral videos to top creators,” Relles said. “Fans feel like they know the creators, and YouTube creators are often their favorites. Even creators who are just starting out have fans who would name them as their favorite personality. It’s different from stars on a TV screen or a cinema screen or on the For You pages.
So we can expect Relles to come up with personality-driven strategies for his new boss. At the same time, the new post gives Relles an opportunity to rethink the open structure that existed on YouTube when he launched Barely Political all those years ago. A number of Hoffman’s investments are in the Web3 space, and Relles believes the industry is in the “Wild West” phase. He notes that similar metaphors were used to describe YouTube at the time.
“People joke that these are expensive jpegs, and admittedly there’s a lot of speculation, but there’s also signal in the noise,” Relles said. “There’s some serious innovation and energy, because turning users and creators into owners is a huge unlock.”
Unleashing potential in the digital media space has been Relles’ specialty for nearly two decades, and his new position will put him in a position where he can cook up new ideas and strategies for emerging platforms. “Sometimes when you’re ahead you can get a head start,” he said. ” And for me, [areas like AI and Web3] present an opportunity to understand where video and creators fit together.