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‘Coolhunters,’ explained

YouTube once had a collective of “coolhunters’ who scoured the platform for potential hits.

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We’ve all got that friend who sends us the latest, greatest TikToks, right?

Well, YouTube once had a collective of those types known as “coolhunters,” per The Atlantic.

Back in late 2006…

… both Verizon and Apple wanted a curated YouTube homepage for their mobile phones (the iPhone would debut in ‘07).

YouTube, which had been recently acquired by Google for $1.65B, hired former iTunes manager Mia Quagliarello to make that happen.

She built a team that would hunt for viral potential for the “Featured Videos” banner. They updated it every four hours, and found hits by:

  • Scouring blogs and other websites
  • Encouraging YouTubers to email submissions (Justin Bieber’s mother was one of them)

Early picks included videos of actor/musician Donald Glover and indie band Peter Bjorn and John.

But it didn’t last

It was hard to measure the team’s impact, and algorithms turned out to be cheaper than human labor — especially as YouTube expanded globally. YouTube’s coolhunters were disbanded in 2010.

So what do coolhunters look like now?

Today, most of our YouTube recs are chosen by algorithms based on our viewing history. Same with TikTok’s “For You” page.

But the term “coolhunting” (AKA trend spotting) was actually coined in the ‘90s, and coolhunters are everywhere.

There are also ways to find unknown gems. To be your own “coolhunter,” try Forgotify for seldom-played songs, or Astronaut for unwatched YouTube videos.

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Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

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