Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, is to step down as titular head of the video sharing site, bringing an end to a management transition that had already seen Google executives take effective responsibility for the business.
Mr Hurley and co-founder Steve Chen remained at the helm after Google paid $1.65bn for YouTube in 2006, in a controversial deal that put the search company at the forefront of the online video business but also brought legal battles over alleged copyright infringement.
However, Google moved to take more control two years ago, as it looked for ways to generate advertising from the site and stem its losses.
At the time, Mr Chen was moved to a different position within Google and Mr Hurley lost much of his influence, though the company insisted that he remained on an equal footing with Salar Kamanagar, the Google executive appointed to take control of YouTube’s operations.
Conceding that his influence at the company had already waned, Mr Hurley said in a statement on Friday: “For the past two years, I’ve taken on more of an advisory role at YouTube as Salar Kamangar has led the company’s day-to-day operations.” He said he would continue to work as an advisor to the company.
Mr Hurley has spent an increasing amount of his time on personal business interests outside YouTube, including a fashion business called Hlasak. A self-declared sports enthusiast, he also bankrolled an effort to build a US team to compete in the Formula One racing championship, though the idea collapsed due to lack of wider sponsorship.
In an interview with the Financial Times earlier this year, the YouTube co-founder said he hoped eventually to work on new start-up ideas, and that a career at Google had not been in his plans. “I’ve definitely stayed a lot longer than I would ever have expected, and probably a lot longer than anyone else would have expected,” he said at the time.
Mr Hurley and Mr Chen created YouTube with Jawed Karim, after the three had left online payments company PayPal and were casting about for a start-up of their own. A designer by training, but with a long-running interest in computer science, Mr Hurley was closely involved in the design and subsequent development of the YouTube website.