From Punjabi migrant’s daughter to Vimeo CEO: Anjali Sood wants to re-imagine the future of video

It’s rare to see a female CEO ringing the Nasdaq stock opening market bell. It is rare even when she is of Indian origin and does it minutes after adopting a 2.5 year old child. So it wasn’t a surprise when a photo of Vimeo CEO Anjali Sood with her son went viral last month, moments before the video software and marketing platform made it public.

Anjali Sood, born to Punjabi parents who immigrated to the US, gave Vimeo a new life, transforming it from an alternative to YouTube into a software platform that provides companies with the tools with which they can The platform can create, manage and share high quality videos. The pandemic year gave Vimeo a shot in the arm, as video consumption soared, as the firm now has more than 200 million users globally, with 1.6 million paying subscribers as of March 2021. Vimeo listed on Nasdaq last month and currently has a market cap of over $7.2 billion. Sood, who took over in 2017, spoke to Moneycontrol via Zoom from New York, how his Indian roots influenced his leadership, if Vimeo will ever see an audio solution, his plans to expand in India and how he The CEO and the mother strike a good balance. Edited excerpt:

Tell us about your backstory – a CEO born to Indian immigrants, raised in Michigan. How did it affect you, shape you as a leader?

Both my parents are Punjabi from India. He came to the United States of America just before I was born. And I grew up in a town in Michigan, where we had a strong Indian community. I was spending every weekend at dinner parties with aunts and uncles, I was doing kindergarten and dance classes, it was a very culturally supportive community. So I grew up with a strong sense of being Indian, but also going to school in America, being an American. I learned a few things from that experience. The fluidity to kind of move across cultures and fit in and really be yourself. It helped me to have a global outlook.

Vimeo is a global platform, most of our users are outside the US, we are growing our teams outside the US a lot and that helps me understand that we come from different backgrounds and how they do things in a positive way. can come together. The other thing I got is a lot of ambition. My parents left their family and friends and came to America to fulfill the American dream and I have always wanted to be a leader and a CEO, because I believe that business can have a positive impact on our communities. . I was always working hard to get good grades, trying to get into the best schools and I certainly got a lot out of my upbringing.

Before joining Vimeo as head of global marketing in 2014, he holds a management degree from Harvard with a degree in finance from Wharton, followed by stints at Sagent, Time Warner and Amazon. What kind of mental change did it take to deal with product and technical tasks from marketing to software platform CEO in 2017?

Before becoming CEO, I had worked a variety of different jobs, from marketing to operations to finance, but had never run a product and tech team. It was definitely something I was very active about. I actually spent a year leading a product and engineering team, building a slew of products to prove it was the right strategy for Vimeo. We were moving from being an entertainment venue to becoming a software company, and so we built software for a year.

It was really important for me to learn the process and mindset of the many people I am leading now. The day I became CEO, I was very self-conscious that I didn’t have a technical background, I asked a lot of questions, I wanted to learn and I surround myself with experts and I give them the culture and hopefully The mindset is expected to be pushed back. To declare. I believe that great leaders- they make good decisions and they empower people and this is the skill that I have come to see to define a great leader.

You’re not the one who’s doing all the work, so it’s important to step back and take a strategic approach, which is why I think about taking the lead today. That’s why I want to surround myself with people who are far more talented and smarter who are going to help.

It’s been exactly one month since your IPO. How has life changed- does most of your time go into compliance, regulatory aspects?

From the point of view of meditation and meditation, nothing has changed. We had a wonderful time celebrating the day we rang the bell and the next morning we wake up and this is the occasion. Our mission is to enable professional quality video for every business in the world and this is going to take us years, so we just went back to manufacturing.

It’s not our goal to go public, it’s not our mission, it’s just a way we can access various financing vehicles to achieve our mission. I spend a little more time talking to investors but my heart is always on making the best products.

I believe we have the opportunity to bring the power of video to every company and team in the world and that is the main thing that keeps me going everyday.

Vimeo is rooted in video, but the big change we’re seeing now is in audio, specifically social audio—from Clubhouse to the Twitter space to Facebook testing the feature. Will you ever watch the audio?

When you look at the use of video, think of all the things you do while you work. We use email, images, text—we use video for a very small percentage of the way we communicate. Our medium term plan is not to deviate from the video, we are laser focused as we believe the market is early and penetrated.

Video is pretty complicated- it’s hard enough if you want to produce it professionally. We want to democratize it through our technology. I really hope we drive we use professional quality video in as many ways as we are doing now.

Long term, we will always see if we believe that our technology and products can actually meet other formats and other needs in the market. But we have a very ambitious vision ahead and a lot of work to do.

Where does Vimeo sit when you look at the competition? You have Adobe Premiere Pro and then apps like Kinemaster and InVideo, which make creating videos a lot easier. Is Being a Full Stack Video Solutions Provider Your Difference?

We think of ourselves as an integrated solution. From getting the inspiration for the type of video to creating it, to publishing and distributing it with your own branding, getting analytics to being able to monetize your content. And we do everything on a branded, white label basis.

So, unlike social media platforms, we are not trying to keep viewers and videos on Vimeo, but we want you to deliver content everywhere at the same time. You should be able to provide solutions to every part of the video ecosystem. Businesses want to use video but they think it’s too much effort. Instead of working with 5 different platforms and 4 different software products you should have one solution.

Tell us about your plans for India. India has over 600 million smartphone users, has plans for 5G, has the highest data consumption in the world. What potential do you see here, how big is India for you right now?

The need for video is global, we have seen an increase in the use of new product equipment in every market since the pandemic. A lot of new investments coming into India in terms of infra will enable huge market opportunity. Certainly an area that we are thinking about and are excited about.

You will see us investing in our team in India, we have an office in Bengaluru, I expect this office to be our second largest office outside our headquarters. We are growing very fast and we are looking at ways to customize our products to be more localized to different regions. The Asia Pac region is a high priority region and we are recruiting.

Before the pandemic, I used to go once or twice a year to visit the team in Bengaluru, it’s one of my favorite places and I can’t wait to get on a plane and come back. With streaming really taking off in India, Vimeo OTT has a lot of interest from content creators. Trying to rethink virtual events and make webinars less boring.

What are your thoughts on the future of work – are you a supporter of people getting back to work to foster social capital? Or will the future of work be hybrids?

I think it’s so exciting that we are all asking this question and taking this opportunity to see what works. I think personal interaction is very important, having an office is very important and I want to pass it on to my employees. But we must provide more flexibility and leverage the distributed workforce. So you’ll see that Vimeo looks to do both, precisely how we do it is still something we’re figuring out.

What’s it like to be a working mom who is a CEO? How do you balance all this? What are your hacks, tips and tricks?

It’s difficult. I can’t pretend that I don’t struggle with it. I no longer strive for balance, I do not know whether it is realistic or not. I am looking for integration. I try to put my whole self to work, trying to split the two is hard. It takes a village and I have an amazing support network. I could never do without them. my one hack is on sunday i hand my son to my husband and just walk around town for 2 hours and i get time to think about everything and it’s important for my sanity during pandemic.

At the beginning of the interview you said that you always wanted to be the CEO. how did this happen?

My father is a physician, but he’s also an entrepreneur and he runs a manufacturing plant in our hometown in Michigan, so I grew up watching him build a business, I’d put my heart and soul into him on the factory floor. And that’s when I found the bug. Leadership changes depending on where you are in your career. Today I see my work as having a clear vision, expectations, being consistent and focused, and getting the right resources and empowering the team to succeed.

What challenges do you anticipate for Vimeo-external/internal?

Our number one challenge and opportunity is execution. Since the pandemic, our customers have come to us with a long list of products and features they need with videos and we are building those things. I think this market is huge. There is going to be competition but it motivates us to do better.

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