He’s loud, goofy, and known for the kind of incoherent, energetic outbursts you would expect from a kid whose just eaten his way through a candy store…into another candy store.
It’s what the critics of Felix Kjellberg – better known as PewDiePie – hate, but members of his audience adore. All 41.6 million of them.
Kjellberg studied at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology until 2011. Seeing potential in the growth of his Youtube channel, he dropped out to spend more time on his videos. His parents refused to support him, so he started working at a hot dog stand in order to fund his productions.
Speaking with The Guardian, Kjellberg said “the fact that I could make videos was so much more important to me than [that] I had to spend a few hours a day doing a job that wasn’t that prestigious.”
Kjellberg has reflected that though he started creating content at a time where individuals were reaching celebrity status for their Youtube videos, he wasn’t focused on building a career, but simply indulging his passion.
In July of 2012, the PewDiePie channel reached one million subscribers.
One year later, he was the second-most subscribed channel on Youtube, with ten million followers.
By the end of 2013, he was the most-subscribed, with a total 16.5 million people. At one point, Kjellberg was receiving a new subscriber once ever 1.037 seconds.
That year, he was reported to have made $4 million. To thank his fans, and address his critics, Kjellberg held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) Interview on Reddit, where he addressed questions on how he made the money, about charity contributions he was making, and how others could follow in his footsteps.
His honesty in addressing fans played an integral part in the success of Kjellberg, and his PewDiePie persona. In an interview with Variety, he explained “They feel a connection to the one they’re watching. It’s almost like you’re hanging out.”
Currently, PewDiePie has 41.6 million subscribers, and his videos have been watched over 10 billion times.
As with everyone who achieves success, Kjellberg saw his fair share of criticism from those who thought all he did was record himself yelling at video games, and that his prominence was undeserved.
He wasn’t too bothered by the media’s response, but what impacted him most was the online commentary from his fans, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘bros’, and those masquerading as supporters in order to leech off his audience.
In late 2014, Kjellberg famously disabled the comments section across his channel in an effort to control self-advertisers and abusive trolls. During a video addressing the decision, he stated “I don’t mean to offend you ‘bros’ who show me support, but I don’t see that same type of support anymore”. Though his subscription base dipped, Kjellberg has said that not having to see the comments had made him a happier person.
Kjellberg’s influence is so vast, that he is often compared to Oprah. For instance, his videos on the game Skate 3 caused publisher Electronic Arts to reprint the title four years after its initial release.
The PewDiePie channel is part of Maker’s Studio, a Disney subsidiary, alongside the likes of Snoop Dog and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises.
Recently, Kjellberg expanded his engagement with Maker’s Studio, by announcing the launch of RevelMode, a collaboration between himself and Maker affiliates designed to produce content while funding for charities.
Kjellberg has published a parody of self-help books called This Book Loves You, and in 2015 released his video game PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist.
He is 26 years old.