Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud On How To Talk To Employees—And The Future Of Video
“We cannot be everything for everyone.”
It’s been a tough year for video platform Vimeo, from job cuts to a stock worth a fraction of its 2021 IPO debut. While the company isn’t growing its revenue at the 40%-plus rate it’s seen during the pandemic, it’s seeing strong growth in the enterprise market.
For CEO Anjali Sud, this is a symbol of where the business is headed. “Our goal is to move the platform from a competitor to YouTube to one that could support video for work,” she says. “We want to make video much easier and more accessible for every employee, team and organization to create and share content the same way they do on TikTok or in their personal lives.
While acknowledging the headwinds of a tough economy, Sud is investing in AI and other technologies to prepare for a video-first world. From a platform for creatives, she talks to CHROs as much as she does to marketers these days. It has evolved from competing with YouTube to partnering with them. And she sees a greater interest in using video to communicate with employees.
“Today it’s about trust and authenticity,” she says. “The next generation isn’t that different, and not being engaged at work isn’t that different.” WWhat has really changed is that The responsibility increasingly lies with managers to communicate and gain trust.
For that, Sud says she learned a few lessons:
Forget the script: “The first is that you have to be comfortable – and in a way it’s like an act of real vulnerability – to be real and unscripted. The power of communicating via video instead of email is that the email was edited and your communications team wrote it and then someone changed that word like that. But when I just record a message from myself to our employees and tell them important news, the more unscriptive I can be, the more genuine and trustworthy it seems.”
“We have to teach ourselves to take the mask off and be comfortable being right in one Video – not just the words let’s say our body language, the context. I bet the leaders of ttomorrow will get a lot more out of their teams if they are comfortable with being unscripted.”
Start with the why: “The other thing I see a lot, especially with the newer generation, is that they don’t want to be informed of a decision – or the what – without starting with the why. Don’t just tell people, “Oh, we made this tough decision or we’re going to do X instead of Y, but give them the respect to share the context, hear the trade-offs: That’s how we made the decision, here it is.” who was involved. That’s kind of a no-no for Comms 101: Traditional communication was just, ‘Tell them what you need to tell them.’”
“I think people today want to feel like they’re being transparent. Even if they don’t agree with your decision, or it’s a tough decision — and I’ve done my part over the past year — people will respect it that much more if you take the time to explain why.”
Everyone participates: “My last lesson speaks interactive video. We need to move away from this idea of a lean-back mission and create more of a lean-forward commitment. This means we need to encourage our staff to participate, whether it’s live Q&A, “click here,” or “choose your own adventure.” If you don’t engage people in a conversation, they won’t sit there and watch and listen and just listen.”
As for the future of Vimeo, Sud says she also learned some important lessons. “During the pandemic, everyone uses video and what happens is you get a little bit of ‘shiny object syndrome,'” she says, “because everything looks like a good opportunity.”
“The areas that we’re going to streamline, relocate, or adjust are the things that we didn’t need to be very good at to begin with. In the end, we actually got distracted by all that glitz.”
“Everyone, every company, of every size, in every industry, was using more video,” she says. “We’ve tried to be the platform of choice for these users at the same time as getting into the business.”
“We cannot be everything for everyone. With videos, we cannot serve every user the way we would like. So how do we focus on the business, on helping companies use video in marketing and employee communications? That is our focus for 2023.”