Last Friday, in a smoky haze of apparent THC-induced reverie, the CEO, founder, and black-rimmed, four-eyed face of the IAC-owned, video-sharing site Vimeo announced he had parted ways with the company he helped build. After a supposed quarrel with IAC bigwig Barry Diller, and unable to come to a common ground with execs on creative concerns, Jakob Lodwick was asked to leave.
It all, on the surface at least, seems amicable. Lodwick wrote, “No hard feelings!” and College Humor co-founder, friend, and former colleague Ricky Van Veen assured the public, “He’s leaving on extremely pleasant terms and remains a friend of and investor in the company.”
Maybe that’s why Lodwick was still holding on to the site, at least for a little bit. Last night he let it go:
I realized it was time to completely let go of Vimeo. This meant turning off “The Mechanism” — the subconscious problem-solving process that has been running in my brain for the past few years, trying to figure out how to improve Vimeo, drastically interfering with my ability to relax.
Hopefully, for the company’s sake, he won’t post any more videos either. Vimeo is better off without him. ###
He’s been impassioned about promoting a digital space for filmmakers to showcase their works in the best quality possible, and in an environment that places utmost value on community, originality and design.
But with Jakob, comes the Cult of Jakob, and by making himself the community’s main Connector, the community has suffered. Maybe it’s his haircut, hoodies, honesty or appropriately highfalutin ideals for his former company, but Vimeo always felt far too cliquey.
The vast majority of the site’s main contributors appear to be comprised of the founder’s friends or colleagues. The near homogeneous mix is mostly white, 20-something, not unattractive, emotive, creative, and appears highly insular to an outsider. I’ve spoken to more than one talented internet content producer who have been intimated by Vimeo’s populace and either didn’t post, or felt rejected by the community after they did.
You can put the onus for community-building on whomever you want, but it’s moot in this case. What matters is the above scenario happens more than it should for a video-sharing site. Even in the sphere of high-quality film makers that it’s actively trying to court, Vimeo’s way more exclusive than in.
The cool kid’s table in the cafeteria is some prime real estate, and if you don’t get a seat, sometimes you’d rather snack outside. But now, with Lodwick gone, maybe more people will stick around. There’ll be a void to fill in the “in” crowd and some web video producers might even start forming crowds of their own.