Company History

Vimeo was founded in 2004 by College Humor employees Jakob Lodwick and Zach Klein, who created the service as a side project. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo focuses on uploading rather than viewing, champions high quality content rather than high quantity, and requires uploaders to be the content creators. It also favours high quality videos over popular videos on its front page.

Vimeo’s mission is “to empower creators to make, share and sell amazing videos directly to viewers worldwide, in the highest quality possible and with no interruptive advertising.” This mission fits its focus on content creators rather than viewers.


User Base

Vimeo currently has 170 million users worldwide, 710,000 paying subscribers for its on-demand content, 25 million members, and 715 million video views. The company claims to experience 80% growth year over year.

North America currently makes up the largest portion of Vimeo’s user base with 60 million users. The next largest, at 34.5%, is Europe with 58 million users. Africa and the Middle East make up 17.9% of the user base with 30 million users, South America 8.9% with 15 million users, and Asia and Australia the smallest portion at 3% with 5 million users.

The majority of Vimeo’s users are male and university educated. Most Vimeo users use the service at work.


Institution Usage

Cultural heritage institutions would be best served by targeting content creators rather than average viewers. Because high-quality content is valued and privileged on Vimeo, LAMs should focus on creating high-quality video content.
Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A) has been on Vimeo for 7 years and currently has 907 videos, 2,596 followers, and 28 collections. It usually refrains from responding to user comments and is losing the opportunity to further engage with its audience via the comment reply feature. Vimeo has a collections feature that allows institutions the ability to curate their videos. This allows users to filter through to the videos they care about, which is particularly important given the V&A’s high number of uploads. The collections break down into different subjects generally based on their collections, exhibitions, or conservation.

In contrast, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has 173 videos, 714 followers, and 24 collections. The videos typically receive more user comments than those of the V&A, but still on a relatively small scale. As a result of the differences in target audiences, Vimeo videos generally receive lower traffic rates than YouTube videos, but achieve higher levels of respectful user engagement. The AMNH joins Vimeo groups, which allows it to interact with other users with similar themes and allows users to discover videos that match their interests. However, it does not use collections/albums to effectively curate and sort its content to the extent that the V&A does.

In terms of metadata, institutions can assign “tags” to their videos to improve their search results. Clicking on a tag opens a separate page on which the user can see other videos to which the same tag has been assigned.


Terms and Conditions: Licensing and Membership Tiers

Vimeo considers the videos on its site the property of the uploader, who grants Vimeo and its affiliates a license to display a video depending on the uploader’s privacy controls. Vimeo also specifies that it is up to the uploader to apply any additional license such as a Creative Commons license. Institutions using the Vimeo service should be aware that their content can readily be shared and distributed, even after a certain video is taken down.

Vimeo offers four membership tiers: Basic, Plus, PRO, and Business, which progressively increase in cost. The Basic tier grants the user a limited, non-exclusive license to access and use the Vimeo service for personal, non-commercial purposes. However, these rights expand from tier to tier, as do the storage and bandwidth limits and staff response times. The V&A and AMNH are signed on to the PRO tier. This grants them permission to use and access Vimeo for commercial purposes, subject to compliance with the service guidelines.


Forbidden Content and Copyright Liability

Vimeo forbids certain kinds of content, including anything that infringes on a third party’s copyrights or other rights; is sexually explicit or pornographic; is hateful, defamatory, or discriminatory or that incites hatred against any individual or group; exploits minors; depicts unlawful acts or extreme violence; depicts animal cruelty or extreme violence toward animals; promotes fraudulent or dubious business schemes; or violates any law. It also specifically prohibits certain kinds of commercial content.

Vimeo is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which essentially limits its liability for copyright infringement while also allowing copyright owners the right to contact a service provider and request the deletion of their content. The site is very clear that any copyright violations are the responsibility of the uploader. Vimeo has taken steps to combat copyright violations, such as via its “Copyright Match” feature.


Links to Example Collections

American Museum of Natural History:
Victoria and Albert Museum:



[1] American Museum of Natural History. (2017). Fossil hunters of the Gobi: A 360 scientific expedition. Vimeo. Retrieved from
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[5] Novet, J. (2016, June 6). Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor steps down, IAC’s Joey Levin takes over in the interim. Venture Beat. Retrieved from
[6] Olster, S. (2011, February 23). How Vimeo became hipster YouTube. Fortune. Retrieved from
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[10] Victoria and Albert Museum. (2016). V&A touring exhibitions. Vimeo. Retrieved from
[11] Vimeo. (n.d). Advertise on Vimeo. Retrieved from
[12] —–. (n.d). Compare Vimeo membership plans. Retrieved from
[13] —–. (n.d). Help center / Vimeo guidelines. Retrieved from
[14] —–. (2017). Terms of service. Retrieved from


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