Here's Why So Many People Are Quitting Big YouTube Car Channels

Screenshot: AutoTea
Screenshot: AutoTea

If you watch much automotive YouTube, you’ve probably noticed a slew of “why we’re leaving” videos being posted by people working for some of the biggest automotive YouTube channels on the internet. Donut. Hoonigan. CarThrottle. It feels like everybody is quitting, but it also feels different than the group of big YouTubers who announced they’re retiring or taking a step back from their channels. So what’s the deal here? These are dream jobs that so many people would kill to have, and now they’re just walking away?

The answer comes from YouTuber AutoTea, who used to work for Donut Media. If you don’t recognize him, it’s probably because he mostly worked behind the scenes. He worked on 136 videos between 2021 and 2024, so he’s probably got a pretty good idea of what’s happening at Donut and other similar media companies. According to him, the reason is money, but not the kind of money you’re thinking of.

It’s true that the auto industry doesn’t pay well. You get to do some really cool stuff, but your actual salary is generally pretty low. Like, “good luck ever having kids without a spouse who makes bank” low. But while lack of income is certainly an issue, AutoTea claims the bigger problem is venture capital and private equity. Investors have bought up many of the biggest automotive YouTube channels, and once they took over, their goal was to make as much money as possible in a business with consistently low profit margins.


They also add layers of additional management, and those cushy salaries have to be paid for somehow. The only option is to cut costs. So staff and budgets get slashed, but the remaining employees are still expected to increase profits by doing more with less. The new management also tends to not trust the people who originally built the channel into what it became and often refuses to fund projects that it sees as too risky or expensive.

New owners also believe the brand is more important than the workers who built the brand, treating everyone like they’re interchangeable and replaceable. So they’re not rewarded for making videos that earn more money for the company, meaning all their hard work just goes to line the pockets of executives who didn’t even bother to learn the business in the first place. After years of being told to do more with less just so they can make other people richer, they end up quitting. It’s a bummer.

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