Today Vimeo is a public company, a result of 16 years long labour of belief and love. As CEO Anjali Sud rang the opening bell which took the company public, it's time to look back at those behind the success. And it all started when she stopped competing.

 "We put creators first, and put the power of professional-quality video in the hands of millions. We built an innovative software platform, a wildly creative community, and a strong resilient business," she posted soon after Vimeo was listed on Nasdaq. The American businesswoman took over as the platform's chief in 2017.  

anjali sud

The first thing she did

But before Vimeo could go public in a spinoff from its parent company IAC, it was largely seen as an 'alternative' to YouTube. At the most, a fractionally smaller competitor to Youtube. Sud has been quoted countless times on the importance of knowing your competition and reinventing. Which is one of the first things she did for Vimeo, reinventing it as a streaming platform to a software company that serves video creators. Because that's where the next disruption was happening. 

Know your competition, then stop competing

Looking at advertising revenues or being a video platform focused on entertainment would have meant that Vimeo was competing with the likes of Netflix, Disney or YouTube. That would have meant pumping billions of dollars into original content.

 "We are not a viewing or entertainment platform. We are not a competitor of YouTube. We are a platform that helps anybody create and distribute video content anywhere on the internet," she has had to repeat that several times to shake off comparisons with the mighty YouTube.

Turning challenges into opportunities

Pandemic has been largely viewed as a bane, which it is. But that never stopped the innovation, work, or the process of thinking outside of the box. Reportedly, at the end of 2020, Vimeo had over 1.5 million paying customers generating $83.8 million in revenue in Q4 alone. Vimeo's business model dispels the notion of advertising being an important source of revenue to survive and thrive.

 "Vimeo has actually never made money from advertising. We've always been a subscription product. And specifically we monetize through actual creators accessing our tools. And so that's a very different model," she said in an interview to The Verge, adding, "And we actually build tools to help you put your content on social media, website and blogs."  

Of business lessons learned


A former investment banker, a marketing director, she has the right qualifications, but that does not always translate into the right decisions or even success for everyone. The 37-year-old Harvard Business graduate says she was drawn to Vimeo, a company she joined to run marketing in a traditional executive job. She also says she never thought three years later she would be the CEO.

"One of the key reasons I joined Vimeo was because it was into videos. I felt that video would go through the kind of disruption that e-commerce had gone through ten years before, and where there is disruption, there is opportunity," she told McKinsey.

She adds, "My job coming in as head of marketing was to understand who our customers were so we could speak to them better and attract them more often. One of the first things I did was to dive into the data: who was using our tools? What were they using the most? What did they like and what did they not like? That data made it clear that the fastest growing customer segment were small businesses who didn't have budgets to spend on external video segments."  

A mother, a daughter a juggler…who drops some balls

Though based out of New-York City, she is currently staying with her parents in Michigan. Working remote and overseeing 600 employees. She often mentions and talks about her parents, husband and especially her 18-month-old son Saavan in her social media accounts and several interviews.

 "I live in a world of perpetual trade-offs," she once said in an interview to NYTimes, adding, "I can no longer operate at 100 per cent capacity like I'm used to as a CEO, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a colleague. I think what I'm learning is that every day, I have to pick the things to let go, and I have to know I'm going to drop some balls, and that's OK."