Q&A—Vimeo CTO Mark Kornfilt talks shift from media toward tech

Vimeo is shifting its focus away from media and focusing solely on tools and services for creators. (Vimeo)

Vimeo is adjusting the focus on its corporate strategy.

Mark Kornfilt
Kornfilt (Vimeo)

The company until recently was still pursuing a role in the media landscape but has now honed its collective concentration on serving its creator community. Mark Kornfilt, Vimeo’s chief technology officer, who was co-founder and CEO of Livestream which was acquired by Vimeo in 2017, said the strategy shift is more like an extension of what Vimeo was already doing.

“Vimeo had this audience business it tried to dabble in. That’s the shift away that is happening. The company has always had a focus on the creator, but I would say the entire company focusing on the creator and the tools is really the shift,” Kornfilt said.

That focus can be seen in Vimeo’s recent product announcements like its livestreaming tools and its newly launched stock video marketplace.

During the recent IBC Show in Amsterdam, Kornfilt sat down with FierceVideo about what lies ahead for Vimeo.

FierceVideo: Are you seeing the creator community grow or become more engaged with the platform?

Mark Kornfilt: Yeah, all the metrics are very positive. We’re seeing the community grow, we’re seeing people come back to Vimeo, we’re seeing our product usage grow, we’re seeing our NPS [Net Promoter] scores grow.

FierceVideo: You’re seeing service revenues grow?

Kornfilt: Yeah, we’re seeing revenues grow.

FierceVideo: As the CTO, are you taking on a bigger or different role as Vimeo’s focus changes?

Kornfilt: I was most recently the CEO of Livestream and we sold the company to Vimeo last year. I initially was the general manager of live, and then transitioned into heading up product and engineering for the company in May. So, it’s a fairly recent change and it’s one that is also a result of this focus on creators and tools. So, the answer is, yes, I think it is a very impactful role and it’s a big one within the company.

FierceVideo: What’s your focus right now? Is it refining the tools you have or is it introducing new tools? Does it depend on community feedback?

Kornfilt: We’re always looking to expand our offering. We launched Stock a couple of weeks ago, which is quite differentiated. Essentially, we launched Stock to empower our creators and to continue to give them the tools to make more with their content. One illustration of that is that traditional stock marketplaces are at about 35% revenue share. Our economics are completely different. Our creators take 60% to 70% of the revenue when they sell content through our marketplace.

The other area that we’re really focused on is how do we make the creation of professional quality content easier and easier, and that’s on the livestreaming side and the on-demand side. You have a whole set of tools that can do the consumer side very easily. That sort of spontaneous capture of content, especially now with phones that do provide high-quality video. But the end result doesn’t necessarily look professional quality.

And then the last side we’re focused on is distribution and continuing to expand tools on the distribution side to provide creators with tools to reach their audience wherever that audience is. It could be on Facebook, it could be on YouTube, it could be on a mobile phone, it could be on the website of the creator, or it could be on connected TVs. And we want them to reach the audience with whatever business model they want, be it free to view or subscription.

FierceVideo: When you say distribution are you talking about integration with different platforms?

Kornfilt: For example, we launched in the last year our Publish to Social feature, which basically with a click of a button you can take any of your video on Vimeo and publish it on Facebook or wherever. Our business model doesn’t depend on getting the audience in. We’re agnostic to that. Where we add the value is in the tools for the creator.

FierceVideo: What new tools are you working on?

Kornfilt: We’re continuing to expand. We’re going to continue to develop tools for our community. The other area is providing our creators more ways to distribute their content to different destinations. You can imagine what that looks like. But we really want to make it easy to deploy that content to wherever it needs to live.

We’re also deploying new ways to monetize your content. Today we support subscription service but we’re deploying new monetization mechanisms. And then we’re continuing to evolve our creation tools. For example, we’re working on adding functionality to do polls, Q&A and pull comments from your audience from Facebook and YouTube and pull that directly into the stream to make it more interactive.

FierceVideo: How big is the hardware business for Vimeo?

Kornfilt: It’s a growing business. The idea there is, how do we democratize the creation of professional quality content? It’s fairly easy to take out your phone and do a livestream today but we all know what that looks like.

FierceVideo: And sounds like.

Kornfilt: And sounds like. And then, if you’re a creator and you’re taking this seriously, what are you going to do? You might think of a traditional camera set up and that’s a possibility, going and buying a prosumer camera or even a professional camera. But then you have to figure out how do I plug that into an encoder? What kind of encoder do I need? If it’s a computer, do I need a capture card? What kind of connectivity do I need? How do I pull in the audio? By the time you get to stream professional quality content through that set up, if you’ve never experienced it before, you’ve had to ask yourself a lot of questions.

[Vimeo’s Mevo] camera is one solution to that. This is a 4K camera, it had the ability to recreate a multicamera production. The idea is for your audience this should look as close as possible to a TV production.