Initially published on April 17, 2020
MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, is the most interesting creator on YouTube. MrBeast is one of the fastest-growing YouTube creators. He has been averaging close to 1.5M+ new subscribers every single month for the past two years. You read that right…MrBeast’s channel is gaining 60,000 new subscribers every single day.
Today, MrBeast has almost 34M subscribers and his videos have been watched over 5 billion times. Even if you’re not familiar with MrBeast, it is very likely that you have seen one of his videos. Most of MrBeast’s videos are best described as extreme acts of generosity and/or outrageous experiments.
Although, to be honest, I’m not sure that either of those descriptions does it justice. It’s probably easier to just share some of the titles and headlines of his best performing videos:
- Reading The Entire Dictionary In One Sitting
- Going Through The Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times
- Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge
MrBeast has mastered the art of going viral.
Before we dive deeper into where his channel is today, I think it’s important to highlight the path that MrBeast has taken to get here.
Who is MrBeast?
MrBeast is a 21-year-old YouTube creator from Greeneville, NC. He posted his first video on YouTube almost 8 years ago. Most of MrBeast’s early content was around Minecraft and gaming, but those videos didn’t get a lot of traction or views. That didn’t discourage MrBeast though. He was dedicated to making videos and trying to make it work. He posted over 120 videos between 2012-2014 before he passed 1,000 subscribers. MrBeast continued to regularly upload a wide range of content with mediocre success from 2014-2017. However, in January of 2017, he uploaded his first viral video: “Counting to 100,000 In One Video.”
The video is almost 24hrs long, and it’s exactly what you would expect…MrBeast sitting there and counting to 100,000. An extremely mundane task that seems so unbelievable that it piqued everyone’s curiosity. After this video hit, MrBeast’s channel started to transform. He posted several other videos doing extremely mundane tasks for extended periods of time, such as: Spinning a Fidget Spinner for 24hrs and Watching It’s Everyday Bro for 10 Hours Straight.
However, what he did next was genius…
Reinvest in The Beast
Six months after his viral counting video, and a handful of other viral videos around mundane tasks — MrBeast took his channel to another level. He uploaded a video titled: “Giving A Random Homeless Man $10,000.” In this video, he talks about how this is NOT his own money. Instead, he announces that he is creating a new series where he gets companies to sponsor his videos and he gives away 100% of those earnings to random people. This was the first sponsored video on MrBeast’s channel.
MrBeast took an unprecedented approach where he opted to reinvest the money that he earned from sponsors directly into his content. Although it is safe to assume that he was making some money from his viral videos…it is hard to believe that any 18-year-old had the forethought to reinvest their sponsorship money into their videos, instead of keeping the cash for themselves.
This method worked incredibly well. His first sponsored video has 7.7M views. Once this started to work, his content and channel evolved again…More sponsors and money started to flow in. By the end of 2017, MrBeast had passed 2M subscribers. These videos performed very well, and he developed several staple formats that he continues to use today, such as:
Donating $xx,xxx to Random Twitch StreamersTipping Delivery Drivers $xx,xxx
MrBeast has continued to reinvest a significant portion of his sponsorship money, merchandise revenue, and ad revenue into videos.
The MrBeast Collective
By the middle of 2018, MrBeast was already over 6M subscribers. Around this time, he started to bring in his friends and build out his crew. His two closest friends, Chris and Chandler, are now regulars in his videos. This was a very important step for his channel, as he created a new format around challenges with his friends. Imagine your favorite game shows, but far more extreme.
In October of 2018, MrBeast recorded one of his most popular videos ever: “Last To Leave Circle Wins $10,000 - Challenge” which has over 55M views. By bringing his friends into his content, he was able to scale his content in a more meaningful way. In the same way that his sponsors unlocked new formats for him, his friends enabled him to develop several more staple challenges, such as:
Last To Leave, Gets $xx,xxxxAnything You Can Carry, You KeepSpending (or Surviving) 24 Hours in xxxxxx
MrBeast and his friends pioneered unique challenges that have since become commonplace on YouTube.
Cracking The Algorithm
There is no YouTube creator in the world is growing as fast as MrBeast. He is averaging 1.5M new subscribers every single month with over 250M views per month.
So how does he do it?
It is widely speculated that YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes and rewards videos based on total watch time. This means that videos that are watched all the way through will algorithmically be promoted to others via the “recommended” panel of YouTube.
MrBeast has mastered this. Almost all of his video concepts are centered around watching to the end of the video. One of my favorite YouTube channels, Colin and Samir, has coined this as “Jenga Storytelling.”
Jenga Storytelling is where you already know the end result, but the stakes of the video continue to increase as view duration increases. This format encourages viewers to watch the entire video, resulting in higher placement on “recommended.”
Logan Paul has also referenced “Jenga Storytelling” before. On his podcast, Impaulsive, he said:
The person who can crack the code of the Jenga Format for YouTube will win. Hands down, they will take over.
MrBeast has cracked this code. However, he continues to take it to another level by raising the stakes.
MrBeast actually gave us a glimpse into his creative process when he spoke to Casey Neistat last year:
“If the average YouTuber spends 1-hour brainstorming video ideas and 5 hours filming, then I want to spend 10 hours brainstorming video ideas and days filming.”
At the end of 2019, MrBeast hosted his biggest challenge to date, where he gave away $1,000,000. He created five different “last to leave” challenges where the contestants were fans who had bought his merchandise and/or followed him on Instagram.
These five videos performed incredibly well and resulted in over 110M views. However, I think that the success of this challenge hints at the future of MrBeast’s channel. By bringing his viewers into his universe, he unlocks the opportunity to scale his content (again). In this series, MrBeast, Chris, and Chandler all acted as hosts of a reality TV show. Given the success of this series, I suspect that we will see MrBeast’s channel move towards this direction.
In addition to giving away millions of dollars on his YouTube channel, MrBeast took it to a whole new level in October of 2019. In honor of reaching 20M subscribers on YouTube, MrBeast launched a tree-planting campaign called: Team Trees. The goal was to raise $20M to plant 20M trees by January 1st, 2020. The goal seemed outrageous at the time, but I don’t think anyone ever doubted MrBeast.
MrBeast kickstarted the campaign by donating $100,000. Within a few weeks, the campaign attracted some major celebrities to donate, such as: Elon Musk, Tobi Lutke, Marc Benioff, Susan Wojcicki, Jack Dorsey, etc.
They ended up exceeding their goal and raising over $21.8M before January 1st, 2020.
Given that MrBeast is now almost at 34M subscribers, it will be interesting to see what he does for his 40M subscriber milestone.
MrBeast has quickly become one of the biggest creators on YouTube and he is showing zero signs of slowing down. It might be hard to believe that a 21-year-old from a small town in North Carolina is running laps around the internet, but I think that’s the beauty and power of the internet.
I am 100% confident that within the next few years MrBeast will be the biggest individual creator on YouTube.