Ray William Johnson (born August 14, 1981) is an American video blogger, producer, and actor best known for his YouTube series Equals Three, in which he provides commentary on viral videos. Many of the videos featured on Equals Three are noted to have received an additional boost of popularity. In February 2011, one industry publication noted that Johnson had six of the top twenty most watched videos of the month. In early September 2012, Johnson had accumulated nearly 2 billion video views. As of December 2013, the RayWilliamJohnson YouTube channel has more than 10.6 million subscribers, and more than 2.6 billion video views. On December 30, 2013, Johnson announced on his Facebook page that he would be retiring his =3 series in 2014, stating he wanted to pursue other options.
Johnson was born in August 1981. He graduated from Norman North High School in Oklahoma in 1999. Johnson's YouTube profile states he was born and raised in Oklahoma City. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Johnson says he studied at Columbia University as a history major, while his profile adds he was preparing to study law.
While at Columbia, Johnson started his formatted show, Equals Three, as a way to combine two popular video styles: watching viral videos and video bloggers. In Equals Three, Johnson reviews, criticizes, and adds commentary to some of the internet's latest viral videos. Equals Three episodes are usually uploaded to his channel every Tuesday. Equals Three is on one of the most subscribed channels on YouTube, having more than 10.6 million subscribers in December 2013, and has been recognized by Guinness World Records.Episodes can consistently obtain several million views within a week. Johnson has obtained celebrity guests on Equals Three, including Robin Williams, Sarah Silverman,Gabriel Iglesias, Kal Penn, Margaret Cho, Bobby Lee, T.J. Miller, Garfunkel and Oates, John Cho, Jason Biggs, Andy Milonakis, Timothy De La Ghetto, RZA, and KassemG.
In January 2011, Johnson launched a collaborative YouTube channel called "YourFavoriteMartian" (YFM), which features animated music videos. The songs are performed by a virtual band of four fictional cartoon characters: PuffPuff Humbert (vocals, voiced by Johnson), DeeJay (turntables), Axel Chains (drums), and Benatar (vocals,guitar/keytar/bass/piano, voiced by Jesse Cale). Johnson writes lyrics, raps, sings, composes beats, and sometimes collaborates with other musicians to produce the songs.
YFM has released 31 original songs, 2 remixes of original songs, 1 remix of another artist's song, 1 mashup, and 8 covers through the channel. In August 2013 the channel had over 2.2 million subscribers. In November 2012, Johnson announced that the YFM project "has been retired".
In October 2012, Johnson moved Equals Three away from Maker Studios, a multi channel YouTube network he had hired to help produce the show. He had announced his departure in an episode of Equals Three. Johnson has stated that he left Maker Studios due to the pressure the company put on him into signing a new contract. Johnson released images of the contract, which showed Maker Studios wanted a 40% share of his online channel's AdSense revenue, and 50% of the intellectual property rights of his show Equals Three. He stated that they were using "thuggish tactics" to pressure him into signing the contract, one of which was allegedly leveraging his AdSense account for the intellectual property rights to YourFavoriteMartian. Johnson also claimed that Maker Studios CEO, Danny Zappin, is a convicted felon, a charge which Zappin later publicly admitted to.