YouTube's creators walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars after the startup was bought by Google in 2006, according to documents released in a copyright brawl between Viacom and Google.
While former PayPal pals Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim each scored fortunes in Google stock by selling YouTube to the Internet giant, a venture capital firm that backed the online video-sharing service landed the lion's share of the wealth.
Sequoia Capital got 516 million dollars worth of Google stock as a return on approximately nine million dollars it invested in YouTube in late 2005 and early 2006, according to court documents made public this week.
Hurley's haul was worth 334 million dollars and Chen's chunk tallied 301 million dollars based on the stock price the November day the deal with Google was sealed, according to the documents.
YouTube's third co-founder, Jawed Karim, had left the startup by then but got about 66 million dollars worth of Google stock for his share in the fledgling company, the documents indicated.
Viacom presented the evidence while trying to make its case that YouTube's founders and Google benefited from letting copyrighted videos be posted at the website.
Viacom is suing Google and YouTube for a billion dollars, arguing that they condoned pirated video clips at the website to boost its popularity.
Viacom was also a target in legal filings with Google countering that the US entertainment giant foisted some of its own content onto YouTube's online stage and even wanted to buy the firm.
Viacom attorneys contended that after YouTube was launched in 2005, the startup's strategy was to achieve meteoric growth by whatever means necessary so it would become a prize acquisition target.
YouTube was a year-old Internet sensation when Google bought it in a 1.65-billion-dollar stock deal in 2006.
Viacom filed its copyright lawsuit against YouTube and Google two years ago.
The lawsuit has been merged with similar civil litigation being pursued by the English Premier League, which says soccer game clips are routinely posted on YouTube without authorization.
Google shields itself with the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, US legislation that says Internet firms are not responsible for what users put on websites.
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