Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, born 24 October 1989), known online as PewDiePie (/ˈpjuːdiːpaɪ/ PEW-dee-py), is a Swedish YouTuber known primarily for his Let’s Play videos and comedic formatted videos and shows. Kjellberg’s popularity on YouTube and extensive media coverage have made him one of the most noted online personalities and content creators. He has been portrayed in the media as a figurehead for YouTube and as being almost synonymous with YouTube gaming. In 2016, Time magazine named him as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, Kjellberg registered his YouTube channel “PewDiePie” in 2010, primarily posting Let’s Play videos of horror and action video games. His channel experienced substantial growth in popularity in the following years, being one of the fastest-growing channels in 2012 and 2013, and becoming the most-subscribed on YouTube on 15 August 2013. Over time, his style of content diversified to include vlogs, comedy shorts, formatted shows, and music videos. From 2015 to 2018, his content also shifted away from Let’s Play content and became increasingly subject to media controversies.
In 2019, following a public competition with Indian record label T-Series, Kjellberg was overtaken as the most-subscribed YouTube channel. His channel currently holds the title of the fourth-most subscribed, albeit remaining the most-subscribed operated by an individual. Kjellberg had the most-viewed channel on YouTube from 29 December 2014 to 14 February 2017, and the channel currently ranks as the 24th-most-viewed, and the sixth among those operated by an individual. As of December 2021, his channel has over 111 million subscribers and has received 28 billion total views. His popularity online has created an Oprah effect for his coverage of indie games, boosting sales for the titles he plays, and has allowed him to stir support for charity fundraising drives.
Kjellberg originally registered a YouTube account under the name “Pewdie” in December 2006; he explained that “pew” represents the sound of lasers and “die” refers to dying. After initially forgetting the password to this account, he registered the “PewDiePie” YouTube channel on 29 April 2010. Following his exit from Chalmers, his parents refused to financially support him, so he funded his early videos by working as a harbor captain, selling prints of his Photoshop art, and working at a hot dog stand.[‡ 3] Kjellberg stated that the ability to make videos was more important to him than a prestigious career. Five years later, Kjellberg recalled, “I knew people were big at other types of videos, but there was no one big in gaming, and I didn’t know you could make money out of it. It was never like a career that I could just quit college to pursue. It was just something I loved to do.”
In his early years as a YouTube creator, Kjellberg focused on video game commentaries, most notably of horror and action video games. Some of his earliest videos featured commentaries of mainstream video games including Minecraft and Call of Duty, although he was particularly noted for his Let’s Plays of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its related mods. Starting on 2 September 2011, he also began posting weekly vlogs under the title of Fridays with PewDiePie. By December 2011, Kjellberg’s channel had around 60,000 subscribers, and on 9 May 2012, it reached 500,000 subscribers. Around the time his channel earned 700,000 subscribers, Kjellberg spoke at Nonick Conference 2012. July 2012 saw his channel reaching 1 million subscribers, and it reached 2 million subscribers in September. In October, OpenSlate ranked Kjellberg’s channel as the No. 1 YouTube channel. Kjellberg signed with Maker Studios in December, a multi-channel network (MCN) that drives the growth of the channels under it. Prior to his partnership with Maker, he was signed to Machinima, which operates as a rival to Maker. Kjellberg expressed feeling neglected by Machinima, and frustrated with their treatment, he hired a lawyer to free him from his contract with the network.
Early in his YouTube career, Kjellberg used jokes about rape in his videos. A satirical video mocking Kjellberg’s content highlighted his usage of such jokes. Shortly after, Kjellberg attracted criticism and controversy for the jokes, and in October 2012, he addressed the issue through a Tumblr post, writing, “I just wanted to make clear that I’m no longer making rape jokes, as I mentioned before I’m not looking to hurt anyone and I apologise if it ever did.” The Globe and Mail stated “unlike many young gamers, he listened when fans and critics alike pointed out their harmful nature, and resolved to stop making rape jokes.”