The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki resigns amid ad revenue woes

The long-time Google executive says she wants to focus on family, health and personal activities.

The long-time Google executive says she wants to focus on family, health and personal activities.

Long-time Google executive Susan Wojcicki, who helped build YouTube into the largest free, ad-supported streaming video product in the world, is resigning to focus on family and personal projects.

Wojcicki will be succeeded by Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, who is expected to step into the CEO role upon Wojcicki’s departure. She will remain at Google and parent company Alphabet in an advisory role long-term, and will help Mohan transition into the CEO role over the coming weeks.

Wojcicki was one of the first employees at Google, joining the company in the late 1990s. She also served as Google’s first landlord, in that she rented out her Silicon Valley garage to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin for $1,700 a month.

Her first role with the company was leading Google’s core advertising products, including AdWords and AdSense, a position she held until June 2014. Afterward, she was promoted to the CEO of YouTube, which Google acquired in late 2006, helping to build it into a financially-profitable, streaming video powerhouse.

“For all the YouTubers I’ve had the privilege to work with, you have done so much to make this platform better over the years,” Wojcicki wrote in an e-mail to Google employees that was made public on Thursday. “You created the largest creative economy the world has ever seen, enabled entirely new forms of art and storytelling, and supported millions of creators and artists to reach new audiences—all while investing in responsible growth so that this brilliant community of creators, artists, viewers, and advertisers could not only co-exist but thrive together.”

Former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki appears at an event. (Still frame via Susan Wojcicki/YouTube, Graphic by The Desk)
Former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki appears at an event. (Still frame via Susan Wojcicki/YouTube, Graphic by The Desk)

Wojcicki departure as YouTube’s CEO comes at a time when the video platform has been impacted by the economic headwinds affecting the entire domestic advertising industry. Earlier this month, Google said YouTube’s advertising revenue was $7.96 billion during its fourth financial quarter, a decline of 7.8 percent compared to the previous year. The figure was far lower than what Wall Street analysts had expected, with estimates pegged at around $8.2 billion for the quarter.

In addition to the advertising headwind, financial analysts say YouTube’s lower-than-expected revenue shows the competition for the attention of streaming video viewers is heating up. Younger viewers in particular have been drawn to TikTok, an application developed by China-based ByteDance. YouTube attempted to replicate TikTok’s short-form video content by introducing YouTube Shorts to its creators, with mixed success.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).