How Vimeo went from CollegeHumor side project to a multibillion-dollar company

Vimeo’s customers include Amazon, Spotify, and Intuit. It was once bought by accident.

When you hear the name CollegeHumor, you might think of the media company whose viral sketch videos have titles like “If Google Was A Guy.”

How Vimeo went from CollegeHumor side project to a multibillion-dollar company

You probably don’t think of an $8B+ public software company.

Believe it or not, Vimeo started off as a CollegeHumor spinoff

In 2004, developers Jake Lodwick and Zach Klein built Vimeo as a side project while working at Connected Ventures, CollegeHumor’s parent company.

By 2006, CollegeHumor was getting 6m visitors a month, and media conglomerate IAC bought Connected Ventures for $30m to own that audience. (Translation: IAC kinda sorta bought Vimeo by chance.)

After Google acquired YouTube for $1.65B later that year, IAC realized its luck and shifted focus toward Vimeo with the goal of making a high-quality, curated YouTube competitor.

But the market was too small

Vimeo considered investing in original content to spur growth, but Anjali Sud, then director of marketing, thought it was a bad idea.

Sud pitched IAC’s CEO on building video software for businesses, similar to what GoDaddy and Squarespace did for websites. The pitch landed her the CEO job.

That launched Vimeo’s shift to SaaS

Vimeo has since built out a suite of production tools for:

  • Mom and pop stores to generate high-quality social media video content
  • Creators to build subscription streaming platforms
  • Fortune 500 companies to securely broadcast content in ultra-high quality

Vimeo went public earlier this week with 200m+ users and 1.6m paying subscribers. The company generated $89.4m in Q1 2021 revenue, +57% YoY.

(Little-known fact: Vimeo’s founders got the idea for Vimeo after they saw  CollegeHumor’s video of Ashley Simpson’s 2004 SNL lip-syncing debacle go viral.)

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