@AnjSud via Instagram

How CEO Anjali Sud reinvented Vimeo and took the company public

By:
Tasheal Gill (@tashealgill)

Vimeo, the popular online video platform for creators which went public on NASDAQ, is led by 37-year old CEO Anjali Sud, making her the first female South Asian CEO to take a company public. 

On the day Vimeo went public, her message to her team was that the only validation that matters is from users, and the only way to succeed is to relentlessly focus on building more value for them everyday. 

Sud grew up in Flint, Michigan, and is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She once dreamed of becoming a playwright and cast her brother and sister in plays they performed in their basement for an audience of her parents. 

“I was really shy as a kid. Acting, dancing and singing were a really nice outlet for me,” she told Yahoo for an interview in 2017

Her father started and still runs a plastics recycling plant in Flint. “He raised me with this idea that businesses can help create jobs and have a positive force of influence on your local community.” 

Proud of her Indian roots, Sud has expressed that she has benefited from the support of her local Indian community and the inspiration that comes from being raised in different cultures and learning how to navigate between them. 

She also believes that diversity of opinion and background is good for business and leads to better decisions. “And better decisions, made consistently over time, increases shareholder value. So, I embrace what makes me different and view it as an advantage.”

Sud went to join Vimeo in 2014 when the company was around 12 years old. At this time, Vimeo was in a heated competition with other popular platforms like YouTube and Netflix. 

She was aware, however, that Vimeo didn’t have the capacity, nor did they have the budget to equate their offerings to the gigantic platforms. But she knew that the business community needed their attention. 

“Vimeo had long been a software company for filmmakers, but the market was too small,” Sud told Forbes. “There was another, much bigger market — businesses. What Squarespace and GoDaddy did for websites, we could do with video.”

In Vimeo’s journey to becoming a public company, Sud played a pivotal role by allowing smaller businesses to get into the digital world with minimal technical know-how. 

In a conversation with Nilay Patel of The Verge, she revealed how the company was heavily curating content for its platform as well as investing in their own content too. 

However, she felt that they weren’t going to compete with original content in Netflix as it would require them to spend $17 billion on it. 

Besides, YouTube at the time was regarded as a one-stop solution for entertainment and was seen as a ‘hard to break habit’. 

So, this is when Sud thought of looking at a new direction to shift Vimeo from an entertainment and content platform to one that provided tools to help small content creators and businesses to make videos.

She pitched this idea directly to CEO of Vimeo’s parent company Joey Levin. Levin liked the idea and in no time she assembled a small team to begin the execution of this plan.

There were, of course, bumps in the road from unexpected occurrences such as COVID-19, which changed the equation for Vimeo much like many other businesses. “This is happening earlier than I would have thought because the pandemic has exposed the business world to the need for professional-quality video,” Sud told CNN in an interview early last May. “Suddenly overnight, video went from a nice to have to a need to have for companies."

Now with 800 employees around the world, taking the company public was the natural step for Vimeo. As soon as she rang the bell to start the market day, she released this statement:

“Today, Vimeo is a public company. It has been a 16-year labor of love: we’ve gone through lots of change, but what has never changed is our belief in the power of video. We put creators first, and put the power of professional-quality video in the hands of millions.”

Sud is one of the few Indian-American CEO’s who are running public companies, in an industry where there are very few women in the workforce and in leadership positions.

Sud was also featured on Fortune’s 40 under 40 list of influential young business leaders in 2019 for her work at Vimeo.

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Tasheal is a screenwriter and poet who believes creativity fuels true happiness. She is studying her first year of Film Production at UBC. Tasheal first discovered her passion for telling stories when she typed up old manuscripts for her dad at the ripe age of 9. Ever since, she has fell in love with the art of storytelling. Tasheal is an Aquarius who uses sarcasm as a defence mechanism and enjoys binge-watching Frasier on a regular basis. Find her on instagram at @tashealgill

5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.

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