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YouTube’s Kevin Allocca ’06
Every day, contributors to YouTube upload 70-plus hours of new material per minute; in the span of 24 hours, visitors to the website view 4 billion videos. Kevin Allocca scrutinizes this activity. He is YouTube’s trends manager—hired for the new position in 2010 by Google, which owns the site, with the mandate to, as he puts it, “make sense of it all.”
Allocca’s first major project was launching youtube.com/trends, a “what’s hot” miscellany for which he blogs conversationally on topics such as “Top 10 Commencement Videos of 2012” and “How Many Happy Birthday Videos Are Posted Each Day?” (“Over 2,000,” he says.) The site also contains public versions of feeds and filters he has developed with Google’s engineers to sift through YouTube’s store of usage data. Allocca spends a few hours each day and evening tracking down what he calls “cultural phenomena”—which videos are most viewed? Shared? Parodied? What if you sort by topic, age, gender, geography? He is fascinated by the input from countries recently added to YouTube’s domain. “One of my favorite things to do,” he says, is “to ask what’s the big music video today” in Ghana or Peru or Malaysia.
Allocca works mostly at Google’s block-long, 15-story office in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, where employees cruise the hallways on scooters. He also manages a California-based team of four “social media and programming coordinators” who chat online with YouTube’s 61-million Facebook followers and tweet links to videos (e.g., “Meet the proud owner of America’s smallest apartment”).
Journalists and academics doing research about YouTube—or about Syrian unrest, say, or the Japanese tsunami—seek out Allocca. And, increasingly, he’s tapped for speaking engagements. His TED talk on why videos go viral has garnered a quarter-million YouTube views since February.
With a double major in communication and film studies, Allocca moved to New York after graduation, aiming to write TV comedy. But an HTML course he took as a lark steered him toward the Huffington Post—where he generated satirical text and video (“if you had a good idea and the time to do it, they’d post just about anything”)—and later to editing the widely read TV news industry blog at Mediabistro.com. “When I started college,” he marvels, “none of the jobs I’ve had existed.”
Nicole Estvanik Taylor ’01 is managing editor of American Theatre magazine.