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Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud on Latest Acquisition and ‘Not Investing in Content’

On the heels of a strategic acquisition, Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud is looking to zig where her competitors are zagging.

While major players like Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix have been pouring money into original programming, Vimeo hasn’t followed suit. In a phone interview with TheWrap, Sud — who has only been at the helm of the video-sharing site for a few months — told us that is by design.

“We’re not investing in content,” she said. “We’re investing in technology and tools for creators.”

Vimeo already has more than 800,000 creators paying to use its tools, but it’s doubling down on its strengths. The company acquired Livestream on Tuesday, which allows users to shoot live video from their phones or computer. The service has 10,000 paying subscribers that host 10 million live events each year — many of them professional.

Once the deal closes, it’ll be integrated with Vimeo Live, the platform’s new live streaming feature. Streams will have a chat bar on the side, and videos will be archived once streams are complete. Live streaming was the “number one request” from Vimeo creators, according to Sud.

“The other big competitors are competing for eyeballs, they’re competing for audience and investing in content to do that.” she told TheWrap.

It seems like a savvy move for Vimeo, given the gaudy amounts of cash its competitors are spending, it would be difficult to match: Netflix is doling out $6 billion on content in 2017, Amazon is shelling out $4.5 billion, and recent Emmy-night darling Hulu is at $2.5 billion. Facebook launched its “Watch” video platform last month and is going to put $1 billion into programming. Apple — the biggest company in the world — is also looking to throw $1 billion into content in the year ahead. And, as a YouTube rep recently told TheWrap, its content budget is “competitive” with the rest.

For Vimeo to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, it needs to play a different game than the top dogs. Becoming a “creator-first platform,” as Sud put it to us, has become the site’s top priority. Adding both measurement tools and nifty features to its platform is one way to do that.

 

A graduate of Harvard Business School, Sud joined Vimeo in 2014 and was promoted at an interesting time in the company’s growth. Before Sud became chief exec in July, Vimeo abandoned its plans for a subscription video on demand service — a service that would’ve brought it closer to Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO. Now, instead of paying for premium content or a pricey video service, Vimeo’s business is built on selling its tool to video creators.

Moving forward, Sud wants to continue zagging by investing in emerging technologies, including virtual reality. “What we’re trying to do is build technology that enables others to create content,” she said.

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