In 2013, Mohan was called Google’s $100 million man after the company paid the online ad wizard a prodigious retention bonus to keep him from bolting to Twitter.
These days, Mohan might be worth even more to Google for one of its biggest divisions, YouTube. Mohan oversees the user experience on not just the iconic ad-supported video service, but also YouTube Music, Kids and VR, and subscription services YouTube Premium and YouTube TV.
Mohan’s remit includes trust and safety, a Sisyphean task in this fraught year of pandemic misinformation, election disinformation, deep fakes and other headaches. YouTube in 2020 may be more central than ever to its 2 billion users who consume everything from 15-second shorts to feature-length movies to hours-long live streams.
“We’ve always thought of YouTube as an open platform where people come to connect with each other, learn how to do virtually anything, be entertained and informed,” Mohan said in an email interview. “This came to life during COVID-19, when we saw an acceleration of many trends that were already in progress.”
Those trends include online education, which Mohan said accelerated substantially during the pandemic.
“Now people have really seen how this can work at scale, and I expect we’ll see a lot of evolution of education as a result,” Mohan said.
He also expects more live streaming and large-screen viewing, already up 80% year over year for YouTube and YouTube TV.
“While the majority of YouTube consumption happens on mobile, our fastest growing area is actually the TV screen,” Mohan said. “In the U.S. alone, over 100 million people watch YouTube and [YouTube TV] on their TV screens each month. The Living Room presents a great opportunity for YouTube.”
Mohan is a self-described “huge sports fan,” rooting for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and looking forward to next year’s Tokyo Olympics. That may be one reason for the many live sports on YouTube TV.
“I am always looking for the latest sports content on YouTube TV and trying out our new features — Key Plays is a game changer,” Mohan said. “It tracks important plays and lets you easily rewatch them.”
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