Susan Wojcicki, a longtime Google executive and the first landlord of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is stepping down as YouTube’s CEO after nine years. In an email to YouTube employees that was shared publicly, Wojcicki said she was leaving to “start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about.” Neal Mohan, who has worked closely with Wojcicki for years, will replace her as YouTube's CEO.
Wojcicki is one of the most respected female executives in the tech industry, and her departure comes at a time when YouTube is facing one of its most challenging periods since Google's 2006 purchase of the video site. During her tenure, YouTube's ad revenue has risen from $8 billion in 2017 to $29 billion last year, although the last six months of 2020 saw a 5% drop. The company is also facing a potential challenge from the Supreme Court, which is set to hear oral arguments in a case that threatens YouTube's freewheeling style.
The case, stemming from an incident involving a 2015 terror attack, could have wide-reaching implications if tech companies are found liable for material posted on their sites. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act provides a legal “safe harbor” for internet companies, which YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen used to launch the video site.
Wojcicki has been an integral part of the company's success, and her departure marks a significant change in the tech industry. It is yet to be seen how Mohan will lead the company in a post-Wojcicki world.