This is a fascinating profile of MrBeast and his YouTube empire (NYT Gift Article). It’s extensively researched and presented with a steady hand. The reason I link to it here is I think he would be a pretty good product manager, albeit a litte bit on the obsessive side:
Donaldson stands out for his dedication to understanding how YouTube works. For most of his teenage years, “I woke up, I studied YouTube, I studied videos, I studied filmmaking, I went to bed and that was my life,” Donaldson once told Bloomberg. “I hardly had any friends because I was so obsessed with YouTube,” he said on “The Joe Rogan Experience” last year.
After high school, he hooked up with a gang of similarly obsessed “lunatics” and planned out a program of study. He and his friends “did nothing but just hyperstudy what makes a good video, what makes a good thumbnail, what’s good pacing, how to go viral,” he told Rogan. “We’d do things like take a thousand thumbnails and see if there’s correlation to the brightness of the thumbnail to how many views it got. Videos that got over 10 million views, how often do they cut the camera angles? Things like that.”
That reminds me of the famous 41 shades of blue testing at Google. Also, one thing I never realized about the whole thing is that MrBeast’s pitch is basically “Hey, you do charity just by watching me because I use the money I get for charity, so the more you watch me the more charitable you are.” That is a bit disturbing but also pretty clever.