In June, Vimeo announced that it would not move forward with the subscription video service it had been working on since at least November 2016. For online video observers, the announcement came out of the blue, and at the time, Vimeo offered little explanation for its unexpected decision.
The video site has now provided some clarity. In a letter to shareholders, which was picked up by Recode, Vimeo’s parent company IAC explained that launching an SVOD service would have required “compromises” that would have affected the video site’s image.
IAC CEO Joey Levin (pictured above), who also served as Vimeo’s interim CEO during period in which the video site publicly discussed its SVOD plans, delivered his company’s rationale thusly: “We have some competitive advantages at Vimeo,” he wrote, “but as we got deeper into the execution and saw what [launching a subscription service] would require, and the compromises we would need to make in our mission to empower creators, the strategy started to look more and more like our competitors, and less and less like Vimeo.”
That last line is fairly cloudy, and Levin could be referring to a number of different compromises. In general, though, it’s not hard to see why Vimeo, a platform built to provide maximum flexibility for its users, might have worried about alienating its creative class with a platform that would have likely required fixed subscription plans in order to be viable.
No matter the specifics of Vimeo’s decision, the video site must now determine a new direction for itself. Levin, who took over for longtime Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor last year, has since ceded his post to a new chief executive, Anjali Sud. Under Sud, Vimeo will look to maintain its image as it scales; evidently, that is a big priority for IAC.