Chu Chu loved it. “She wanted me to repeat it again and again,” Chandar recalls. Which gave him an idea: “If she is going to like it, the kids around the world should like it.” He created a YouTube channel and uploaded the video. In a few weeks, it had 300,000 views. He made and uploaded another video, based on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and it took off. After posting just two videos, he had 5,000 subscribers to his channel. Someone from YouTube reached out and, as Chandar remembers it, said, “You guys are doing some magic with your content.” So Chandar and several of his friends formed a company in Chennai, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, from the bones of an IT business they’d run. They hired a few animators and started putting out a video a month.
“The way YouTube is distributed is not always conducive to ad revenue,” said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, which tracks the the technology sector. “The YouTube ads are on the side, but they are not embedded in the programming, like you see in television.” The current YouTube format might be good for consumers, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that great for the bottom line, Bajarin said. “They are going to have to change things up,” Bajarin said.
But even if you discount YouTube's multiples a bit to account for its profit uncertainty, you're still left with a very valuable business. At six times Mizuho's revenue estimate, YouTube would be worth $90 billion. At seven times, it would be worth $105 billion. And those valuation figures would rise a little more if one tacked on a slight premium (say, $5 billion or $10 billion) for the potential of YouTube's subscription businesses.
To be clear, it’s hard to make videos that very young children can learn from. (Johnson’s doctoral adviser, Georgene Troseth, was part of the team that demonstrated this.) Children under 2 struggle to translate the world of the screen to the one they see around them, with all its complexity and three-dimensionality. That’s why things like Baby Einstein have been debunked as educational tools. Most important for kids under 2 is rich interaction with humans and their actual environments. Older toddlers are the ones who can get something truly educational from videos, as opposed to just entertainment and the killing of time.