19-Year Old Stanford Student Develops YouTube Instant Tool

YouTube will soon be copying the new Google Instant search feature thanks to a bet made by a couple of college roommates at Stanford University. Last Wednesday, 19 year-old student Feross Aboukhadijeh was sitting in his dorm room testing out the just-launched Google Instant predictive search feature, which displays search results as users type their query. The student was impressed by the idea, and inspired by the idea. Before you knew it Aboukhadijeh had made a bet with his roommate that he could build a similar feature for YouTube’s search function in just an hour, and went to work. Aboukhadijeh lost the bet, but did accomplish what he set out to do in about three hours.

Aboukhadijeh spent several more hours perfecting the user interface for YouTube Instant the next day, and posted his work on his Facebook page before going to sleep Thursday night. When the student logged on to the internet the next day, he was bombarded with a flood of congratulatory emails, a number of requests for interviews, and somebody had created a Wikipedia entry in his name. But the biggest surprise that morning was a job offer from the CEO of YouTube, Chad Hurley, extended via Twitter.

Aboukhadijeh at first didn’t believe the offer was real, and replied to Hurley asking if it was indeed a real offer of employment. Hurley then emailed the student and a meeting has reportedly been scheduled for Monday morning at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California. Aboukhadijeh is currently near the end of a summer internship with Facebook, which he hopes won’t prevent him from accepting a job with YouTube, which is owned by Google. The student also expressed a desire to finish his degree, which could possibly create a bigger issue in accepting a full-time job with YouTube.

Just like Google Instant, Aboukhadijeh’s work would allow YouTube users to see possible matches to their searches as they type. Based on preliminary feedback, however, he has begun working on play and pause features and several other improvements, believing that multiple videos starting at the same time as users type could be confusing. Aboukhadijeh developed the feature using the YouTube API but abandoned it after Google blocked his server for repeated requests to the search suggestion endpoint. He then had to re-program it to query YouTube directly for search suggestions, thus eliminating the round-trip to his server.

Aboukhadijeh has been amazed at how quickly his new invention has garnered attention and is extremely grateful for all the positive feedback. His rise to fame became such a huge story that a software developer in Alabama, Michael Hart, has already copied Aboukhadijeh by using Google Maps API and iQuery to develop Google Maps Instant. And there is even a new site called Instantese.com which serves as a base for all websites that use instant predictive search functions.