(July 20, 2023) In an age that witnessed the rise of several online video platforms, Vimeo often took a back seat to its more prominent competitor, YouTube. In fact, many people may not even be familiar with Vimeo’s existence. While the company has faced significant challenges over the years, struggling to keep pace with YouTube, Netflix, and other industry giants – one remarkable woman has spearheaded a transformation that has propelled Vimeo’s performance to new heights. Business executive Anjali Sud’s leadership not only rescued the platform from the brink of disaster but also propelled it to a monumental milestone – Vimeo’s debut on the NASDAQ exchange.
However, after a successful run at the online video platform, the business executive is taking over as CEO of Tubi, Fox Corp.’s free, ad-supported streaming TV service. Talking about this new opportunity, the Global Indian said at a recent conference, “We are witnessing a seismic shift in where and how content will be consumed, and I believe that Tubi can become the destination for the next generation of audiences. The future of streaming TV is free, and I am excited to join the Tubi team to help shape the next wave of entertainment, by giving all people access to all the world’s stories. Tubi is doing things differently in a space that is being imminently disrupted, and that is my kind of opportunity.”
The business executive, who has also worked in various MNCs, including Amazon and Time Warner, is also a designated Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and serves on the board of directors of Dolby Laboratories and Change.org, and was recently named a Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute.
Inspired by her father
Born to Punjabi-Hindu immigrants from India, the business executive grew up in Flint, Michigan. Her father operated a plastics recycling plant in the town. An ambitious child, Anjali would take part in various projects and also represented her school in many competitions. With aspirations of becoming a playwright, Anjali would cast her brother and sister in plays that were brought to life for an exclusive audience of two: their adoring parents. “I was really shy as a kid. Acting, dancing, and singing were a really nice outlet for me,” she recalled during an interview.
The first turning point
However, a turning point in her life came, while she was at the Barnes & Noble store with her father, where they found a book called The Best High Schools in America. “I didn’t know there was a thing called prep schools; I didn’t know that was a thing that existed,” Anjali recalled. While initially didn’t wasn’t sure about applying to these schools, it was advice that her father, which changed her mind. “My dad’s given me great advice. Probably one piece of advice that I give to others that he’s given to me is to live outside of your comfort zone. It speaks somewhat to the philosophy of ‘put yourself in positions where you might not have a ton of experience,” the business executive said.
And his words worked like magic. Anjali started applying to prep schools as an experiment. She courageously ventured beyond her comfort zone and used it as a launching pad for her future accomplishments. The business executive shared, “We didn’t know what we were doing. My dad bought me the book. The next day, I started applying. I applied to maybe 30 schools, ranging from a military academy to a Catholic school. I didn’t know anything.”
The youngster’s efforts earned her a place at the prestigious Phillips Academy, a private school in Andover, Massachusetts, where she finished her schooling. The business executive then attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2005 and graduated with a B.Sc. in Finance and Management.
Climbing the corporate ladders
Soon after graduating from college, Anjali worked as an investment banker even though she knew that the banking life was not included in her long-term goals. “I did it for really one reason, which is I wanted to be well-versed in finance, and I wanted to see how value was created and destroyed,” she shared. And between 2005 and 2014, the business executive worked in various companies, holding positions in finance, media, and e-commerce.
However, her shining moment came, when she joined Vimeo, as Head of Global Marketing in 2014. It was again the advice of her father that made her leave a tried and tested path, and join a company that wasn’t faring wasn’t faring quite well. “It’s something I feel like I’ve done my whole life,” the business executive shared in an interview, while talking about pushing her boundaries, “Leaving home at 14, going to Andover, where I didn’t know anything, I was definitely outside my comfort zone then. In many of the roles I’ve had at Amazon and certainly at Vimeo, I’ve been in situations where it wasn’t like I had the playbook and I knew exactly what to do.”
The rise to CEO
Just about three years into her time at Vimeo, the business executive became the CEO of the company and within her first 90 days as CEO, the company acquired Livestream. At 34, Anjali was the youngest chief executive of any IAC (IAC) brand and made it to The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017 Next Gen list, which spotlights 35 executives under 35, who ‘will soon run Hollywood’. “I had always hoped to one day be in a position like this. I couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago that I would be where I am today,” she said, ” It’s been a series of strategic choices and fortuitous events and a lot of hard work and support from my team.”
Speaking about her strategies, she shared, “I saw an opportunity to champion the creator side of the platform. So, I just started doing it. That opened up a path for me to do that formally. It was a major catalyst for why I’m sitting where I am today. You just have to permit yourself and not wait for formal permission to do it.”
Now a mother of two, Anjali is a huge supporter of more women as business leaders. However, she points out, that it is necessary to be authentic to lead people. “Early on, I felt like I had to change the way I talked and acted to embody the more traditional make leader from the way I cut my hair to not wearing jewellery and so on. The reality is that you will be great when you are yourself. Being yourself is really hard because you have to find the version of yourself that is most authentic,” the business executive said.
While she is quite busy with her career and her ambitions may have changed from the days she dreamed of writing a Broadway show, the business executive is dedicated to building businesses for the creative minds.