YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s departure costs Silicon Valley one of its most influential female executives

February 17, 2023, 2:01 PM UTC
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will step down after nine years in the role and 25 at Google.
Hollie Adams—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! AMC Network’s chairman stays close to home for his next CEO pick, Glossier mounts a comeback, and Susan Wojcicki is stepping down as CEO of YouTube. The Broadsheet will be off on Monday for Presidents’ Day in the U.S.—we’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday.

– Move to watch. What’s in the water this week? One after the other, female leaders from business to global politics have announced they’re leaving their positions. The latest is Susan Wojcicki, who has served as the CEO of YouTube for nine years.

“I’ve decided to step back from my role as the head of YouTube and start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about,” Wojcicki wrote in a note to employees yesterday.

Wojcicki isn’t just the CEO of one of Alphabet’s most significant businesses, with $29 billion in revenue; she’s an integral part of the Google founding story. She famously rented her garage to Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 and joined the company as its 16th employee shortly afterward. (Her sister, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, even ended up marrying—and later divorcing—Brin.)

Since 1998, there hasn’t been a Google without Wojcicki. Before her nearly decade-long run as YouTube CEO, she held roles overseeing marketing, online advertising, and analytics. She was one of the creators of Google Image Search and AdSense, and she was a critical voice behind Google’s ultimate decision to acquire YouTube in 2006.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will step down after nine years in the role and 25 at Google.
Hollie Adams—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Over Wojcicki’s long tenure, YouTube has transformed from a simple way to share videos to a platform that creators, who earn a cut of ad revenue, rely on for their livelihoods. Their content, in turn, earns YouTube its $29 billion in ad revenue. Her job has been to balance the interests of YouTube’s various stakeholders, from creators to advertisers to users to the bosses at Alphabet.

The departing CEO has dealt with increased criticism in recent years over content moderation on the platform, including its seeming inability or unwillingness to stem the flow of extremist viewpoints and hate speech.

Wojcicki’s job made her a rare female CEO in Big Tech. Last year, she ranked No. 20 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list. With her departure, Silicon Valley loses one of its most influential women executives—as it did with Marne Levine’s exit from Meta announced earlier this week. Wojcicki’s successor is her longtime No. 2, Neal Mohan.

Wojcicki won’t exit the Google ecosystem entirely; she said she plans to hold an advisory role across Google and Alphabet companies. “This will allow me to call on my different experiences over the years to offer counsel and guidance,” she said.

After 25 years, that experience is comprehensive. “The time is right for me,” she wrote to employees. “I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved. It’s been exhilarating, meaningful, and all-consuming.”

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.


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"I want people to understand that a real position of power is ownership. It’s working to not have to sell. That’s ultimately what I would like to do. I would love to create something that can last."

Keke Palmer on her admiration for Tyler Perry

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