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The Internet is awash in news and opinions about the latest developments in personal technology. But Marques Brownlee, a YouTube solo act, has stood apart from the crowd.
The New Jersey native, who started his “MKBHD” channel as a hobby, draws a more loyal following than many professional tech reviewers, thanks to an appealing personal style, adept command of the subject matter and an eagerness to reach out to viewers. “My main goal with every project is to make a video that I’d want to watch,” says Brownlee, 21. “And there are plenty of people who want to see the same thing!”
Brownlee’s videos are conversational, as if he’s explaining to his best friend what’s interesting — or lame — about the newest Apple, Samsung or Android device. MKBHD caters to two separate audiences: serious super-nerds, who were the first users to religiously follow his channel; as well as ordinary consumers who go to YouTube and search for product reviews before making a purchase.
Brownlee began posting videos on YouTube in early 2009 from his parents’ house in the New York suburb of Maplewood, N.J. “I can’t remember precisely what piqued my interest (in personal technology), but the experience of purchasing my first laptop was a pretty big reason why I decided to start making videos,” he recalls.
After one of his first videos got more views in one night than the few hundred subscribers on the channel, Brownlee says he realized he had a potential career ahead of him: “That showed me that there would always be an audience for quality tech videos.”
Today, Brownlee has more than 2.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and has produced more than 750 videos. He’s affiliated with Vox Media’s the Verge website, and plans to collaborate more closely with the company in the future.
For the past six years, he’s maintained MKBHD as he attended school. After graduating from Stevens Institute of Technology in May with a bachelor’s degree in business and technology, he has made the channel his full-time occupation (when he’s not playing professional Ultimate Frisbee, that is).
But Brownlee still hasn’t gone Hollywood. For now, he doesn’t have an agent. “The closest thing I have to a manager is my parents,” he says, “for all their words of wisdom and business experience.”
MKBHD By The Numbers
*Data provided by Tubular Labs
Total views: 8.6 million
Total comments: 245k
Total views: 629k