YouTube’s Head of Monetization Quits, Joins Cooliris

Google’s senior executive exodus continues. YouTube’s head of monetization, Shashi Seth, has now left the company to become the chief revenue officer of Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup Cooliris. In his new job at the startup, which has raised some $3 million in Series A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Seth is going to help develop a new business and advertising model. [digg=]

“I think part of being a Googler is that you like smaller environments, and I think Google got a little big for me,” says Seth. He was appointed as YouTube’s head of monetization in January 2007. It has been a thankless job.

Despite being the largest video-sharing web site, YouTube is still finding it hard to make money. My sources say that YouTube made around $80 million in 2007, a number that could grow by more than 50 percent this year to around $125 million. A Bear Stearns report estimated YouTube revenues at around $90 million for 2008. I’m not sure if $120 million-$125 million is going to make Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has been publicly talking about YouTube and its money-making potential, happy.

What stands between YouTube and money is the lawsuit by Viacom, as it makes owners of legitimate content a tad nervous. There’s clearly money in partnership content. I was recently talking to some folks that are close to, and they pointed out that thanks to all the legit content, the demand for ads on the site is pretty high; the company, they said, could easily do about $25 million in revenues. Given how little traffic they have in comparison to YouTube, that’s an impressive number. Of course it doesn’t move the needle for its primary backers, NBC and News Corp.

In comparison, the number of visitors to YouTube continues to rise, making it by far the most dominant player in the market. So much so that even Hulu decided to set up a channel on YouTube to attract traffic to their site.