Most of you know Casey Neistat today, because with more than 4.9 million Youtube subscribers (and growing fast), why wouldn’t you? He makes vlogs and shares his exciting, ambitious lifestyle with the world on a daily basis. Every so often his daily vlogs and stylistically produced off-kilter videos go viral, being picked up by the media and getting over 20 million views. His most recent video of that nature is one where he innocuously gets upgraded to First Class on his return trip from Australia. In 1 week this video now sits at 19 million views.
He’s just ‘Making Videos’
You’ll see a lot of videos like this. His biggest hit before he started vlogging was one where he was charged with making a Nike ad, but instead flew across the world with his friend till that money ran out. The honesty of that video – of not being an ‘ad’, and the free-spirited embodiment of Nike’s core brand philosophy, “Just do it”, is exactly what ended up transpiring. He jumps into lakes, runs across beaches and does backflips in front of the pyramids. It’s not a traditional Nike advertisement but Casey makes it so much more, and he did it without planning it out beforehand with the company. This is why brands started coming to him to work with them; to capture something raw and visceral that represents the brand, but from someone who understands filmmaking in a professional capacity.
Casey self-professedly started out working in a “crappy seafood restaurant” as a dishwasher, spending upto 50 hours a week scrubbing pots and pans. At age 19, he moved to New York city from his trailer in Connecticut, leaving his tumultuous lifestyle behind. With him he brought his then baby son, Owen, his dreams, very little money and no clear job prospects.
Often when asked by people how to figure out what they want to do with their lives, Casey’s response is somewhat antithetical. “The fastest way to figure out what you love, is doing something you hate.”
Watching Casey Neistat seamlessly weave through the world of entertainment, technology and digital media is cathartic. Here’s a man who truly started from the bottom, did what he loved and did it differently, and one who truly understands how to bring out the best in people; even big people who you don’t usually see being so candid on camera.
Last year Casey set up a technology company called Beme with Co-Founder Matt Hackett, one of the driving forces behind the success of Tumblr. Beme was a new-age social media app that allowed people to post unedited, unfiltered, candid videos of themselves when they held up their phone. The sensors would detect when the phone was held up to your chest; in that moment, video starts recording and it’s posted immediately for all your followers to see. The only time you get to see what you just created is after it’s been posted online. Matt and Casey raised a reported $2.6 million dollars in seed funding, before running into technical difficulties and bugs. If you look at it this year, the Beme project has been all but seemingly abandoned.
Casey Neistat is Youtube Famous – And More
To summarize, here’s what Casey Neistat did and does for a living:
- Made one of the first viral videos of the internet “iPod’s Dirty Secret” in the pre-Youtube days.
- He and his brother had an HBO series in 2008 called The Neistat Brothers, featuring 8 episodes of short stories from their lives.
- Made a lot of other viral Youtube videos: Bike Thief, Bike Lanes, Snowboarding with the NYPD, The $12 McDonald’s Burger and more.
- Made commercials for companies like Nike, Google, J. Cew and Mercedes-Benz. Here’s Make it Count, his aforementioned Nike video.
- Casey reached 1 million Youtube subscribers on August 22, 2015. He reached 4 million less than a year later. He has a loyal and dedicated viewership that shows no signs of slowing down in growth.
- Co-founder of Beme, the app that was supposed to revolutionize candid social media.
- Worked on a project with MIT Media Lab, helping students with creative direction.
- Won GQ’s “New Media Star” Man of the Year Award. I don’t know enough to tell you exactly what that means, but it must be a big deal.