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YouTube’s revenues are on track to double from 2019. With a great ad biz, comes great responsibility

June 3, 2021, 1:20 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Etsy buys Depop, the latest vaccine incentive is free childcare, and Susan Wojciciki’s ad empire just keeps growing. Have a terrific Thursday.

– It’s an ad, ad, ad, ad world. Quick—what’s the most used social media platform in the U.S.?

If you guessed Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok—buzzer noise!—you’re wrong. The reality is that YouTube, the one you might be tempted to think of as mostly a distraction for tweens, is No. 1, with a full 81% of Americans telling Pew Research that they use the video site.

For years, Alphabet—YouTube’s parent company—declined to say how much money the site was bringing in. Then, last year, the company finally announced the number: $15 billion in 2019. Not bad, but what’s really remarkable is how fast it’s growing: analysts are predicting that YouTube could post revenues of $30 billion for 2021. (It’s worth noting that Alphabet still isn’t revealing YouTube’s profits—and the platform has plenty of expenses.) The lion’s share of that cash, as Fortune’s Aaron Pressman and Danielle Abril report in a new feature, comes from its ad business. In fact, if YouTube were a standalone company, it would be the world’s fourth largest seller of digital ads, after its parent company, Facebook, and Amazon.

The woman steering this growing advertising super power is YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who spoke to Aaron for the story. Wojcicki was YouTube’s biggest cheerleader at the Googleplex (she says she was the first person to urge Google co-founders to buy the site) and she’s been at its head through its supersonic growth—as well as its many (and continuing) controversies over its all-powerful algorithm—which plays a huge role in what videos users are likely to see—and its stumbles in removing misinformation and other harmful content.

The work of continuing to spur YouTube’s growth through this critical moment, when video advertising is poised to overtake traditional TV spending, keeping the content creators who have fueled the company’s rise from defecting to buzzier competitors, soothing advertisers scared of being put near offensive content, and policing billions of hours of video is a massive job. So big, in fact, that it might not be possible to do. But that hasn’t stopped Wojcicki from spending the last eight years trying. And from the sound of things, she has a lot more she plans to heap on her own plate.

So, what happens next? As Aaron and Danielle put it “you’ll have to smash that ‘subscribe’ button to find out.” Read their story here.

Kristen Bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@kayelbee

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to clarify that the projection for YouTube’s 2021 revenue was made by outside analysts, not by the company itself.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Sale of the season. The fashion resale space had a big day, with Jennifer Hyman's Rent the Runway expanding from rentals to enter the $33 billion resale market. Meanwhile, Etsy bought the resale platform Depop, popular with Gen Z, for $1.6 billion. That British startup is led by CEO Maria Raga. 

- A big jobThe Interior Department once eradicated the cultures, homes, and even lives of Native Americans. Now, it's being led by one—Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. How can Haaland live up to the hopes and pressures Native Americans across the country have for her in this job? New York Times

- Vaccine incentive. You may have heard that the Biden administration partnered with Anheuser-Busch to offer free beer as an incentive to get 70% of the country vaccinated. But did you catch that the White House is also backing free childcare for parents to get vaccinated? KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the YMCA, and Bright Horizons will offer drop-in appointments at no cost for caregivers getting their shots. Marketwatch

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Enjoy Technology hired Clear Channel's Tiffany Meriweather as chief legal officer. Footwear and apparel brand Hoka One One named Norma Delaney VP, global brand marketing and Erika Gabrielli senior director, Hoka global integrated marketing. CapitalG, Alphabet’s growth fund, promoted Jamie Rosen and Nina Gerson to VP. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Only in NYC. Christine Quinn ran for New York City mayor in 2013, losing out to Bill de Blasio. In a new piece, the former candidate says she's worried that the women in this year's race—like Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley—will face the same scrutiny and penalties she did because of their gender. New York Times

- Class and childcare. In a new piece for Fortune, two leaders of the organization Family Story argue that recent GOP support for measures like the child tax credit have come at the cost of support for more direct government investment in caregiving, framing those kinds of public investments as the preference of coastal "elites." It's critical not to let the fight for accessible and affordable childcare become a form of "class warfare," their article says. Fortune

- All rise. What motivated Judge Judy to move her show from traditional TV to streaming? The daytime TV legend—also known as Judy Sheindlin—says she has to "be in it to win it." And at 78, she's not interested in retiring. Wall Street Journal

ON MY RADAR

Buckingham Palace announces unprecedented ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II next year Washington Post

Meet three women working on the frontline of ocean conservation Vogue

'We all have a role to play': The fight against anti-transgender legislation Elle

PARTING WORDS

"I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this...on a day where you will be the most inclined to hear a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem. A problem that can’t wait."

-Paxton Smith, the valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas. After Texas passed an law banning abortions as early as six weeks, she changed her graduation speech talk about the issue "affecting me and millions of other women in this state."

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