YouTube founding team member shares advice with fellow Illini

By Aaron Navarro

Brodbeck, recipient of the 2015 LAS Outstanding Young Alumni Award, an original YouTube team member and class of 2001 alumna, spoke at a networking seminar for LAS students Friday. According to the college’s website, the LAS outstanding Young Alumni Award is given to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 15 years who “has demonstrated the values derived from a liberal arts and sciences education by outstanding achievement, or by significantly improving or enhancing the lives of others through outstanding leadership or service.”

She discussed her time at the University, her time spent in San Francisco — before and after her involvement with YouTube — and her current ventures as an angel investor.

“Networking is more than just job and career fairs,” she said. “Like, my experience at YouTube was all because of friends I met here at Illinois.”

Brodbeck joined two other University alumni, Jawed Kawim and Steve Chen, in 2006 to create a then-startup called YouTube. Brodbeck worked as a web developer for the team, a skill the history major originally picked up as a hobby.

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“I wanted to be a lawyer until I took this one international law class and decided it wasn’t for me,” Brodbeck said.

She left YouTube in 2009, and co-founded The Ice Break, a relationship website that develops questions for couples to answer in order to learn more about each other. Brodbeck received $9.9 million in Google shares despite leaving the company, according to TechCrunch.

Brodbeck is now an “angel investor,” meaning she supplies funding for startups, sometimes in exchange for equity in the companies. Brodbeck developed her interest in investing through her experiences at start ups like YouTube and MRL Ventures, an incubator started by one of the founders of Paypal. 

However, she said the nationwide popularity of start ups was not present during her time at the University. She said although there was a start up culture during her college years, it’s changed since; it’s “cool” to launch start up companies now.

“I like that small feel of start ups,” she said. “I left YouTube because it grew to 600-700 people, which was a different feel from the six to seven people we started with.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Christina Brodbeck was one of the co-founders of YouTube. Brodbeck was a member of YouTube’s founding team. The Daily Illini regrets this error. Brodbeck also did not work at PayPal, but worked at MRL Ventures, an incubator started by one of the founders of Paypal.