Goodbye for now
Vidme came a long way as an independent platform, but we couldn’t find a path to sustainability. We’re building something new.
After careful consideration, the Vidme team has arrived at the difficult decision to suspend the Vidme site and apps. We’ll use this blog post to explain what this means for users, how we got here, and what’s next for us.
What this means for users
•New sign-ups and uploads will be disabled effective today.
•Existing videos will be playable and exportable from your video manager until December 15th at noon PT, at which point they will be permanently deleted from the Vidme servers.
•All paid channel subscripitions will be suspended immediately, and subscriber-only videos will be exclusively accessible by their video owners.
•Any outstanding earnings will be paid out upon verification within 60 days.
•All Vidme paid subscriptions will cease as of today, and subscribers will no longer be billed.
Please see our FAQ for more details, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Why we started Vidme
We started Vidme (initially Viddme, before we could afford the shorter domain) in 2014 with the mission of helping the next generation of entertainers find their audience and earn a living.
At the time, YouTube was the only major platform that provided revenue sharing — a system which often neglected creators with small or niche audiences.
We were confident we could create a new type of video platform — one that was more community-oriented, more transparent, and more equitable to creators. Inspired by reddit’s crowd curation, we also saw an opportunity to improve the experience for both viewers and curators by allowing the community to surface trending content.
Given the large market opportunity (video ad spend is $84B in the US alone), and the impending shift from linear television viewing towards digital video, we believed that we could create a sustainable platform to accomplish these goals.
What we accomplished
Vidme’s first feature was a one-step video publishing tool: simply drag-and-drop your file and Vidme would generate a shortlink to your video that you could share anywhere, no account required.
Vidme’s original homepage
At the time, sharing videos was more difficult than it is today — Facebook, Twitter, reddit, and other large platforms didn’t have native video, it was often impossible to send large files over SMS, and YouTube required sign-in and publishing to your G+ page. Vidme’s simple, one-step video upload drove massive early adoption and traffic.
On a mission to build the world’s most creator-friendly video community, we raised venture funding and quickly evolved the product to support creators with a broader set of tools for publishing, building audience, and monetizing.
The first VOD platform to offer both on-platform tipping and paid subscriptions, Vidme became one of the top 1,000 most popular destinations on the web, reaching over 200 million people annually.
We hosted millions of videos, delivered over 6 billion views to audiences around the world, and our player was frequently embedded by major online publications, including the Huffington Post, USA Today, Mashable, People, Sports Illustrated, and more. Our small engineering team developed infrastructure that scaled to support thousands of simultaneous HD video encodes and hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers.
Most importantly, our vision for a more equitable and creator-friendly community attracted some of the world’s most talented creators — ranging from first-time videographers with a passion for storytelling to well-established digital stars with millions of subscribers. Some were earning thousands of dollars per month using Vidme’s fan patronage tools, and many found larger audiences than they ever had before. An energetic and diverse community took shape, with Vidme’s most ardent fans creating thousands of videos discussing the platform.
All of this was accomplished with fewer than a dozen full-time employees, and in spite of increasing competition for audience attention from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, who began spending billions of dollars per year on video content.
Meanwhile, deeper-pocketed platforms such as Vine (owned by Twitter) and Vessel folded, and Verizon’s Go90 struggled to find comparable traction despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
What we learned and why we’re moving on to something new
Although we still believe that the world would greatly benefit from a creator-first video platform, we weren’t able to find a path to financial sustainability. Here are major obstacles we encountered in our attempts:
Monetizing user-generated content is increasingly challenging
•Advertisers want to target specific audiences, which means a new platform that doesn’t store troves of personal user data is at a severe disadvantage relative to Facebook and Google, which combined control 60% of online ad spending in the U.S.
•Most advertisers want their ads to complement “brand-safe” content. Unfortunately this is a subjective designation, which is difficult to define and enforce. Content, therefore, must be thoroughly reviewed and moderated — an expensive prospect. As YouTube recently learned with the “adpocalypse,” even a single poorly-moderated video can result in a PR disaster and undermine advertiser trust.
•Few advertisers are willing to negotiate direct deals with platforms that don’t have enormous scale, meaning ad-revenue rates are lower for newer platforms. In turn, there’s less overall revenue to be shared with creators, which means creators are less likely to support newer platforms for a sustained period of time.
•Although we introduced direct fan patronage as an additional business model, the profit margin was insufficient to cover the high costs of storing and delivering video.
Storing and delivering video is becoming less expensive, but remains extremely costly
•Videos are often massive files, and making them globally available at any time is expensive. YouTube sold to Google (just 18 months after launching) partly because of YouTube’s high burn rate, and to this day is still likely operating at a loss.
•When we launched in 2014, we projected that infrastructure costs would decline due to increased competition in the CDN and data storage industries. While marginal prices have fallen dramatically over the past few years, our aggregate costs still outpaced our ability to generate meaningful revenue.
The definition of “scale” has changed, and attracting audiences away from existing platforms is harder than ever
•8 of the 10 most popular apps are owned by Google and Facebook. Both companies also have many other apps that continually pull users back into their networks.
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