The joke’s on us.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known as PewDiePie to now more than 50 million YouTube subscribers, posted a video earlier this week announcing he would exit the platform that made him famous if he reached the 50 million threshold.
The U.K.-based creator has been making vlogs and videos of him playing video games — with jokes and commentary — since 2010. This year, Forbes named the Swede the highest paid YouTuber, with reported earnings of $15 million this year.
In the inciting video last week, Kjellberg expressed irritation at being unknowingly unsubscribed from channels or not seeing content that he was subscribed to. He said that he first noticed that there was an issue when vlogs he released hadn’t reached 2 million views.
After claiming that YouTube told him it didn’t know what was happening with the apparent subscription issue, he also expressed displeasure with the recommendation algorithm YouTube has in place.
Kjellberg has the most subscribers of any creator on YouTube, he wrote a book that went to number 1 on The New York Times bestseller list and last year, he launched his own network, Revelmode, under the auspices of Maker Studios, the digital production company owned by Disney.
A flurry of press coverage followed the announcement, with the central question being: What did this massively popular creator with a huge following stand to gain by burning it all down?
“You know when you make a joke, and it just blows up way bigger than you ever imagined?”
That’s right. Having reached 50 million subscribers, Kjellberg deleted his channel at noon EST, Dec. 9, as promised — but it was his second channel. He never specified which channel would bite the dust.
“Thanks for 50 million subs,” the final screen of the video reads, “will delete PewDiePie at 100 million.”
Sure, and I’m the Queen of England.
So what can you take away from all of this?
Well, clearly the old adage that any publicity is good publicity still rings true. Kjellberg wanted to get to 50 million subscribers in an expedient fashion, and figured that his similarly-minded fan base would get him there. The move also allowed him to call out YouTube, while still showing how valuable his brand is to the platform.
He believed in his product and he went big. And whether you’re a fan of his methods or not, you can’t deny that it ended up working for him.