Anjali Sud has overseen Vimeo’s transition from a would-be Netflix competitor to a tech company that helps video creators make and show their own online content.

It was a radical shift for her to push even before she landed in the CEO spot.

After Ms. Sud jumped from Amazon.com Inc. to lead Vimeo’s marketing in 2014, she saw promise in refocusing the online video platform to become all things to video creators. Her instincts earned the trust of Barry Diller, whose IAC/InterActive Corp. controls Vimeo, Match Group and other internet companies. Her results as head of its creator business got her the corner office.

Today, Vimeo is a creative hub that aims to provide content creators—from auteur filmmakers to yoga instructors and other small businesses—with the technology to produce and distribute videos from start to finish. Since she took over, the number of subscribers who use Vimeo’s video tools has climbed to 1 million from 800,000. The company generated nearly $160 million in revenue last year, a 54% increase from the year before.

Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud talks to The Wall Street Journal about the best way to ask for a promotion, how to say “no,” and cultivating inspiration from her team. Photo: Natalia V. Osipova/The Wall Street Journal

The 35-year-old recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal. Here are edited excerpts:

WSJ: How did you build a case for changing Vimeo’s strategy, even though you weren’t CEO then?

Anjali Sud: Many times you have to just do it, and it’s OK to find scrappy ways to show results. You have to persuade people not just on the merits of your arguments. I found peers within the organization who were equally passionate to do it with me. Once I saw results, I certainly wasn’t shy about talking about those results and making clear I thought we could do a lot more.

WSJ: What has it been like to lead such a dramatic shift?

Ms. Sud: I never relied on the fact that I’m now CEO to get buy-in. It was really always about explaining and getting people excited. I think we often underestimate as leaders how important that transparency is.


I’ve always found energy and excitement in putting myself in situations that are a little uncomfortable. When I get over the hard and scary part, it gives me such a sense of confidence and fulfillment.


—Anjali Sud, Vimeo CEO

WSJ: Now that you’re not trying to be another Netflix, who’s your biggest competitive threat?

Ms. Sud: Our own ability to execute. We have competitors at different stages of the video workflow, but there’s really nobody else looking to solve a creator’s problem from the moment they have an idea for a video to how they actually get it made and distributed.

We turned our competitors into partners. You can access Vimeo’s tools within

Dropbox

and distribute your videos to YouTube from Vimeo with a single click. We’re not trying to chase eyeballs. We can really be the Switzerland for creators.

WSJ: Where did you get your capacity for risk-taking?

Ms. Sud: My father runs a plastics-recycling plant in my hometown of Flint, Mich. My earliest memories are of him starting that business and working through it. I remember the passion and energy he brought to that. It was infectious. He raised me to believe that business can have a really positive impact on your community—it can create jobs and empower people.

I’ve always found energy and excitement in putting myself in situations that are a little uncomfortable. When I get over the hard and scary part, it gives me such a sense of confidence and fulfillment.

WSJ: What is the best advice you’ve gotten from Barry Diller?

Ms. Sud: He’s talked about his philosophy (of) throwing people into the deep end of the pool and seeing how they do. I’m obviously a beneficiary, but it’s something I also believe in. We look for ways to give people opportunities to tackle something they might not have explicit experience in, but they have a perspective and an ambition to take on.

WSJ: You are just several weeks back from maternity leave as a new mother. How has that shaped your view on the needs of working parents?

Ms. Sud: I have a whole new level of empathy for what it’s like. I absolutely did not appreciate how many challenges and trade-offs there are. Frankly, the position I’m in as CEO is probably way easier than for working parents on my team.

I don’t think the aim is balance. It is more like integration. I would like for Vimeo to be a place where you can be a parent at work, and it’s not always this delineation of work and life. That sort of paradigm sets us all up for stress and frustration and feeling like you do neither well. Now when I’m on a conference call and my son is in my arms and everyone can hear him crying, I don’t apologize for that.

Write to Vanessa Fuhrmans at vanessa.fuhrmans@wsj.com



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