Vimeo’s Kathleen Barrett on How Subscriptions Have Fostered Opportunities for Creators and Fans

The platform's svp of enterprise focuses on the business of providing video distribution tools

Barrett oversees the business of providing tools for video creators around the world.
Ashley Maas

Kathleen Barrett loves watching good video—and helping people making it.

As svp of enterprise and creator success at Vimeo, Barrett leads strategy, growth and business for Vimeo’s enterprise business. Barrett oversees Vimeo’s OTT and live video tools, from the subscription video product creators rely on to the OTT channels publishers launch, to make sure they’re helping Vimeo’s customers meet their own business goals.

Barrett joined Vimeo from VHX, a video tech startup that Vimeo acquired, where she oversaw operations, finance and human resources after a five-year stint at Goldman Sachs. Barrett explained that “typically, only the most well-funded, largest networks could afford to launch their own Netflix-like channels,” which resulted in lost opportunities for video creators and fans alike.

“Before subscriptions, movies would go to film festivals, but if they didn’t get picked up, it was sort of the end of life for that movie,” Barrett said. “And there were all these talented people who weren’t reaching fans who wanted that content.”

Barrett’s finance background, bolstered by her years bouncing around different teams at Goldman and learning fundamentals of finance, client management and problem-solving, helped her shape the business path forward for VHX as a video-on-demand platform where creators like comedian Aziz Ansari could sell directly to consumers. Later, the company built a subscription video-on-demand platform; Vimeo, looking to strengthen its own VOD business, acquired the company in 2016.

Now, Barrett oversees the business of providing tools for video creators around the world—everyone from media companies like IndieFlix to fitness personalities like Jillian Michaels.

“One of my favorite things is the broad range of creators that find our platform and grow with our platform that you never would have thought of,” Barrett said. “It’s the most fun part of the job.”

Every day at work is different, and so is Barrett’s media diet at home. When she’s not at the office, you might just find her binge-watching Russian Doll, catching up on Workin’ Moms or streaming a fitness video from yoga teacher and YouTuber Adriene Mishler, who uses Vimeo’s tech on her site.

“All this niche content that’s popping up—it’s really exciting,” Barrett said.

Big Mistake

“I think making sure that the business model makes sense faster, and making sure we were building something sustainable faster, would be something I would have done differently in the past,” recounted Barrett.

Lesson Learned

“The only mistake you can make is falling short or making the wrong call and then not learning from it,” Barrett advised. “You’re more likely to learn and grow the more mistakes you make.”

How She Got the Gig

Two of Barrett’s friends started VHX and needed help building out a financial model and a payout system. Barrett raised her hand. “I stuck around promising I would solve challenging problems for them, and my duties ranged from finding printer ink to paying our creators,” she said.

Pro Tip

After leaving Goldman Sachs, Barrett said she wasn’t sure how exactly her experiences would translate—so she took time out of the daily grind to think about what she wanted in a career. “Be patient with yourself and explore the opportunities around you,” Barrett said. As for looking for the next gig: “Be open-minded about what your role is, and think about what you can bring to the table. Don’t over-architect your job role.”

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.