Former Senior Manager, Research & Customer Insights at Vimeo LLC (Vimeo Inc)
- Vimeo’s (NASDAQ: VMEO) offerings, focusing on its all-in-one video solutions and client differentiation and value
- TAM predictions for enterprises and SMBs and a related shift to enterprise opportunities, leading with live-streaming offerings
- Industry landscape, highlighting peers such as Brightcove (NASDAQ: BCOV) and Wistia and how YouTube (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook (NASAQ: FB) fit in
- Opportunities, risks and the impact of Vimeo’s May 2021 IPO, including potential acquisition targets
SP (Specialist): Vimeo is a SaaS video-hosting platform. They offer tools for video hosting, creation, collaboration, monetisation, lots of -tion words, and it’s really known for high-quality playback and being a professional place to post and showcase videos. To your point, historically, definitely has been known for really being an artistic version of YouTube, let’s say, or alternative to YouTube, but in the past few years, they’ve really pivoted to focus more on the creator tool side and less on being a viewing destination.
SP: Certainly, I would say the most important aspect is being a place to really organise and host videos. There’s an embedded player, so you can really share those videos wherever you need, to share them on your own websites. There are some collaboration tools in terms of work-in-progress videos. There’s a video review page where you can get feedback on a video right to the second timestamp and the comments show up exactly where you want them in frame, so that’s a great tool for video teams that are working on videos together. Then, on the enterprise side, there are solutions for internal communications. It really is depending on from if you’re an independent filmmaker all the way up to an enterprise, there are tools and solutions that are really geared at each of those levels.
SP: Again, historically, Vimeo was seen as a place for serious filmmakers to host their work, but people use Vimeo for all kinds of reasons. There are a lot of small businesses and organisations and larger companies that also use Vimeo to host their videos. Vimeo really decided to focus more on that small- and medium-business use case and then as well the enterprise use case. It has always been a SaaS platform where people, instead of having ads to monetise their content, they’re actually paying to host their content because they see the value in having this high-quality video player, having complete control over their videos, how they show up, as well as really buying into… For filmmakers, I think Vimeo really was this place to be seen and that’s where your peers were, so it was important to show your work there, but Vimeo really saw an opportunity to focus more and build out their user base among businesses, and small and medium businesses as well as with that enterprise offering. As you can imagine, a lot of larger companies already use Vimeo, but they weren’t using it in the best way because they weren’t necessarily really good at tools at the individual account level for collaboration and to really control seat access and who has admin access to the account. There really becomes this need for more of an enterprise solution to have better security, to track viewers and analytics down to the individual. That’s why Vimeo really started focusing more on small, medium businesses and enterprise, and that’s why you see something like Vimeo Create that they launched last year, which helps small businesses create social media videos really easily. There are a lot of templates, there are a lot of clips that they can use to really quickly create something that looks professional that they can throw up on Instagram or TikTok or Facebook or wherever they’re really targeting their customers.
SP: I have so many thoughts on this. Something that customers will say all the time is, “I use this tool every day and I wish I could do everything with it. I’m doing something over here, I’m doing the video editing over here and then I’m uploading it, coming to Vimeo to upload it and set up some privacy settings,” and whatever they’re doing with organising and hosting that video, “and then I have to go somewhere else to share this content as well.” Vimeo really wanted to take down those barriers and allow customers to do as much of that process within the tools as they could. For someone who isn’t as savvy with video editing, they can use Vimeo Create to create those videos on the fly and then there’s a way to share and distribute that directly into Facebook or Twitter or whatever social platform that they want to share that content to, but then if someone is using a video-editing platform, there are integrations so it’s really easy to upload into the account that you want to upload to.
In terms of what sets it apart, Vimeo has been around for so long and it really is a trusted brand and has a really good reputation for being, again, this high-quality, professional place to host videos. It’s not going to disappear overnight. There’s 24/7 customer support. Often, when you think about the decision makers within an organisation, so if you’re looking for a video-hosting solution or an all-in-one platform for video, someone who’s in a video department, probably, on the side, they’re a filmmaker or they have their own personal account on Vimeo, so it’s something that they’re already very familiar with. I do think when we’re in a position to decide what tools we use, we’re going to be drawn to the tools that we know and have used for years and feel comfortable with the UI. We know that Vimeo is always innovating and releasing new functionality and listening to customers and their needs. I think they really have built up quite a bit of goodwill and trust with their customers. The people who are making these decisions often have a personal account and already have a relationship with Vimeo, that they’ve maybe been on Vimeo since 2010 or 2012, so they’re very, very comfortable with it.
SP: Asking the tough questions. I would say that the brand reputation is really key. Ease of use, I don’t know if we talked really about that, but coming from doing UX research, there’s a lot of work that Vimeo does to make sure that all of the features and tools that they release are easy to use, intuitive, and they make sense and they understand the workflows and how they would fit into someone’s day to day. I think that is really key as well, just to make sure that it’s, out of the box, very easy to use and not hard to teach someone else. Let me think. What would I say is the third? I do think it is important to understand the landscape of what other tools people are using and where Vimeo fits in within that and trying to make it as easy to play with everything else as possible, as well as trying to bring that functionality into the product as well, where it makes sense to integrate and where it makes sense to build that out. I do think, realistically, people have so many different tools that they’re using, and you do want to have that all-in-one platform, but not everyone has a need for the full suite of tools that you offer, so just making sure that it works, it just has to work for people in their workflows.
SP: I would definitely agree with that assessment. I think the transformation of remote work has changed everything in terms of how larger companies communicate with their employees, how large organisations communicate. Even as we maybe go into more of a hybrid approach, all communications are just going to have to happen online because, realistically, I don’t think we’re all getting in a room together ever as organisations or companies really, for the most part. The ability for companies to host internal communications, their town halls, their all-hands and to really have the right tools to make (a) the production quality what it needs to be, (b) have the security measures in place to make sure that only folks internally have access to these videos, as well as have the live stream available as well as the playback later on, and to make that really easy for folks to be able to find and have this hub of those internal communications, I really think that has been such an important offering that Vimeo Enterprise has. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a lot of people were scrambling last year to figure out, “How do we…” if they weren’t already there. Working in tech, I think that has become the standard for how internal communications happen, but some other industries maybe were not quite at that point yet, and I think last year was a bit of a scramble of, “What is our approach to taking things online?” I think Vimeo was really, really well-positioned with live streaming and their enterprise solutions to be there at that point, and something that Vimeo was using internally, so I have seen it work as an employee, so I think that will only grow in demand.
SP: I think it’s always important to have a customer success manager or dedicated support, just to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the tools and to really understand what your needs are. I think Vimeo does offer so much functionality that often, and I think this happens with a lot of companies that offer a lot of functionality, customers will say, “I wish you offered this,” and it’s like, “It is in the product, it’s just you didn’t know about it or find it.” I think having that dedicated support to make sure that they really are getting the most out of it, which also helps with retention and engagement, that’s really key. Then security is huge, especially when we’re talking about internal comms. That’s often very, very sensitive information that’s being shared. I would imagine, for enterprise companies, their IT and security teams need to vet all of the protocols and how it’s set up and integrations and what access they’re granting. All of that is really important to just make sure that things are set up correctly and just to control access and make sure that you don’t have former employees who can still watch these live streams, or anyone who puts in a random code, like the Zoom- bombing, that was a whole issue. I do think that is a really important factor in decision making. Something I heard, being at Vimeo for a long time, before there were enterprise solutions, there were customers who would write in and say, “We need to talk to you. We have these security protocols that we need to look over,” and Vimeo just wasn’t set up, at that point. People who wanted a contract, who wanted a sales contact, and their IT team had a laundry list of questions, and there were just not teams set up to handle those. Obviously, Vimeo has scaled to meet that need and has built out those teams to make sure that they’re really able to accept all the customers that want to use Vimeo as a solution.
SP: I’ll be honest that I haven’t looked as closely to see how their enterprise offerings may have evolved. I know that once you get into the enterprise game, there is a lot of custom functionality that you need to build out as those requests come in from really high-value customers, so I imagine that there has been more custom tooling and features and things that have been built out to help support those enterprise needs. I would think that also they would consider rolling that out to other enterprise clients if it was something that they heard requests for quite a bit, but yes, I would say, unfortunately, on a specific level, I am not close enough to really know.
SP: I think they saw the opportunity and definitely grew their sales force. My read on that, my guess is that they’ve found that if they’re able to scale their sales team, they’re able to grow their enterprise clientele. Obviously, they’ve sized the market, they have a sense of what the total addressable market is, and I would imagine that they’re finding traction with what they’re offering, and so it’s really a matter of scaling up that team to be able to onboard and handle the demand. That’s my optimistic read on that, is that they can scale that sales force, that they’re able to meet the demand, and they feel confident in what they’re offering and that they’ll keep building functionality that they’re hearing enterprise customers need.
SP: Yes, that is aggressive. It’s a good question. Let me think about this. I think in the enterprise space, there are fewer players than on the consumer side, so there’s that. Vimeo does have a reputation, having been around for so long, but I think enterprise is still fairly new for Vimeo, and I think that awareness will only
grow with time and their reputation as being one of these top players within this enterprise video space, so I think plays a factor. I’m curious as a researcher now. I’m like, “How many enterprise companies already have a video solution in place vs are they figuring out that this is something they need?” They haven’t found a solution yet, and so they’re going to be looking for a solution soon, or that more of a, “We can attract and convert folks from other platforms because our offering and our pricing is going to be more attractive than what they’re currently using where there are some pain points”? There were a few. I’d want to know more to help think through what it could be, but that’s where my mind goes.
SP: Your question of are they competitors or are they partners, I think it’s both. When I think of these social media platforms as competitors, the reason why it’s a competitor is because that’s where people are going to directly share their content. It’s more about the behaviour. It’s more about how would Vimeo get people to want to use their tools and then publish directly from Vimeo to those other platforms? It might be that often a small business has a Vimeo account and maybe it’s their video editor who runs that account, but then the social media person, they’re sharing these videos through private links or in internal whatever file sharing they’re using, and then that social media person, they could be using other tools like Hootsuite or Buffer or whatever, or Sprinklr, or they could be going directly to Facebook and YouTube to upload. That kind of answers your question. Even though Vimeo does offer this solution, how you change behaviours and get more people on a team to collaborate within Vimeo and use that as their hub, I think it’s hard to change behaviours. Even once you launch functionality that supports a new workflow, that then means that the person on the video team or the video editor or whoever, or the marketing person, then has to convince a co-worker, “Use this tool instead of what you’re already doing.” Sometimes, obviously, people do change tooling and workflows internally all the time, but it’s hard to change behaviours, if they are already going directly, and sometimes it’s a sense of they feel more comfortable, there are less fail points or perceived fail points if they are directly in Facebook uploading a video, and maybe they want to go there to check the analytics anyway. There are so many different reasons why people would potentially feel more comfortable going directly to those social platforms to share content. I think that is a very real reason why Vimeo would see them as competitors. Even if they don’t seem like they use different functionality, at the end of the day, if they’re uploading and sharing videos there vs from Vimeo, then that means Vimeo is not capturing that video content.
SP: I think it depends. There are a few things. There’s awareness of all the functionality. I think being an all- in-one platform, there’s just so much you can do with Vimeo. I think there’s always going to be a certain percentage of any platform’s user base that they log in once a week or whatever to do the one thing that they do, and they don’t really explore or click around or find out about new functionality. I think that’s just something that all platforms that are expanding their functionalities, they’re up against, “How do we let people know that we offer something new that they might actually want to use and need?” There’s that. If you’re sharing videos on social, there are just so many ways to do it, and I think it really depends on the individuals on that team who are doing those things and what they feel comfortable doing and what they like, which tools they like to use. It really depends. If you have one person who is in charge of all of it, then it definitely makes sense, they may be very happy to consolidate that into one tool. I think it gets tough if your co-worker, you’re not their manager, you don’t really have a say in their tooling. You can suggest it, you can tell them, “This might be easier if we do it from Vimeo vs what you’re doing now.” It may be a very practical response to the question, but I think there are always the team dynamics of which tools to use and who’s in charge of what different actions on the team. I don’t know. That’s just something that, as a researcher, I’ve come up against, of just understanding who does what and where are the collaboration points and where is there an opportunity to make this more efficient, but also what’s the resistance to that change?
TB (Third Bridge): I think more importantly, when people decide to use and standardise on Vimeo they do it more because of the video creation and editing capabilities, and then it seems the distribution features and functionality are the gravy on top, meaning the decision to standardise on or use Vimeo isn’t driven by distribution. It’s not social media, but the video service to a large extent.
SP: To your earlier point, I would say on the distribution side, the embedded player is a very key part of Vimeo functionality, so people definitely are embedding Vimeo’s video player, but when you’re talking about distributing to Facebook or YouTube, then that’s a little bit different. I would say I have a better vantage point on the small, medium business side of things. Wistia definitely differentiates itself as the video-hosting platform for marketers. They really focus on their SEO capabilities, their analytics. They have a heat map for videos and you can see where people are replaying and watching. I think they have gone deeper on a specific segment of users, whereas Vimeo started maybe more broad. I think this is always the tricky thing, is a company starts and they’re very focused on one specific segment in the use case. Then they get adoption and then they start, people want more functionality, and they build it out and then they become an all-in-one platform. Then there are these competitors that come up that are hyper focused on this one segment, where they’re like, “Oh, no, now we have to compete with this other company, that they’re gaining this reputation as being the place for marketers who really care about their analytics and SEO.” This is sort of just like a cycle that repeats. I would say, for Wistia, that is the competitive, that’s how they’re differentiated, and my sense is more of a small, medium business play. Brightcove, definitely more of an enterprise play, but I’m not as familiar with how they differentiate from Vimeo. My sense is they’ve had more of an enterprise focus for longer than Vimeo has, but maybe you know more than I do on that.
SP: I know on the OTT side, there are a few other competitors for monetisation, but I’m kind of blanking on them. I want to say Kaltura, but again, I wasn’t as focused on the enterprise competitive landscape, so it’s a little hard for me to speak to it.
SP: I think on the self-serve side, certainly the pricing is really competitive and fair and, I would say, good value for what folks are getting. On the enterprise side, I have less visibility into their pricing models. I would guess that it is based on bandwidth as well, how much they’re uploading and then as well as the bandwidth cost to host that. It’s definitely a lever that they have. If they’re trying to gain a footing in enterprise, which obviously they are, and not just a footing, but building on that, I would imagine that pricing is something that comes up in those conversations constantly, and once you’re able to get an enterprise client on board and then expand their usage, you’re able to increase your prices accordingly. I would imagine that would be part of that strategy.
SP: I absolutely think that enterprises are using Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, whatever their solutions are for that. I think it would be interesting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vimeo was thinking about how they could enter that space as well, just because that is how meetings are happening. Even people returning to offices are finding themselves at a hot desk on a Zoom call that they could have done from their home. I think Vimeo’s live streaming and internal communications capabilities have a place within the enterprise suite of tools, but I don’t see them being used for those one-on-one meetings or team meetings. It would be interesting to see what they might be thinking about. I have no idea, I have just speculation. I would be curious what they were thinking in terms of that functionality.
SP: I feel like I saw a Zoom integration with Vimeo so that you can upload after the fact, so I think they’re definitely thinking about how to streamline that process, but that suggests to me that they’re very aware of the fact that people are on Zoom all the time, and thinking about how they fit into that ecosystem.
SP: I think those are both risks. The risk of the competitors and maybe large, established, related companies moving into the space or maybe acquiring Wistia or a competitor and bringing that into their ecosystem, I think that’s always going to be a risk.
SP: I think that’s certainly a risk, and I’ll add to that, how do you play in a self-serve and enterprise way and keep your eye on all of those balls and keep both growing? I think with enterprise, it’s a long sales cycle, it can be a lot of effort to try and land large clients and how do you not alienate the small, medium business side or the filmmaker side or the existing customer base and make sure that’s still growing? How do you signal that you are enterprise-focused, but still listening to the needs of customers that have been on the platform for years who aren’t enterprise. Definitely I know that they listen to their customers and the feedback that they get from them and what features they want and are always looking to expand and innovate, so I think that is something that they’re able to straddle, but I just think, as they expand, how do you stay focused as you’re expanding on more and more? I think that is a risk.
SP: I think it’s a really positive thing for the company, that they’ve been able to spin out publicly. They’ve been really opportunistic with the acquisitions that they’ve made. If they were looking to expand in a major way, I think they would obviously consider the, “Can we build this out?” vs acquisition, and that would be part of their strategy moving forward, I would imagine. I’m trying to think if there’s anything else to add to that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued to make some acquisitions. I think it is interesting going from being privately held to publicly traded, and can it be distracting for people to see the stock price change? I think, suddenly, you don’t have your investors, but you have shareholders that you are beholden to, and seeing how the market reacts, that’s just a different mode, which I haven’t experienced, but I can imagine changes the feel internally.
SP: I think it would be interesting to see in terms of analytics, as I’d mentioned with Wistia, that that’s how they really market their offering, so I think it’d be interesting to see how Vimeo could expand in that way. I’m trying to think of what other areas might be. I don’t know. I’m kind of curious what other areas they might be focused on, but that’s one that comes to mind for me.