Viki: By the Fans, for the Fans
By March 2012 Razmig Hovaghimian, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Viki, a web portal that provided video content with crowdsourced multi-lingual subtitles, had turned his idea into a growing business. His vision of creating a video platform that would become the “Hulu for the rest of the world” was becoming a reality.
Viki relies on an active community of fans to add captions and subtitles in numerous languages to premium videos (movies, TV shows) from around the world, thus opening up new markets and enabling new viewers to enjoy the content, for example by making South Korean dramas available to Arabic audiences and allowing Bollywood hits to be viewed on computers in Spain. By leveraging crowdsourced subtitling, Viki has been able to distribute non-English and non-US television content to foreign markets faster and for free.
To date Viki has been extremely successful at convincing large content producers (e.g. NBC) to entrust their content to fans. But as Viki continues to scale, it still faces one big challenge: Finding the right balance between being an authentic site that is supported by an informal community versus being a slick, commercial operation. The case begins as Nadine Yap, a Vice President at Viki, got set for a major redesign of the website to meet the requirements of the growing company. She lamented that at times, when the company fixed bugs or made what designers considered improvements, members of the community would complain and even leave. In a world where people want to be part of a movement and not a business, how can Viki maintain a vibrant community of members who are predisposed toward the crowdsourced model rather than a for-profit business? The community of fans and subbers is at the heart of what Viki does, so staying authentic is crucial to the company’s sustainability.
How should Yap and Viki go about maintaining the delicate balance?
Social Media, Crowdsourcing, Corporate Communications, Communication Strategy
Business and Corporate Communications | Communication Technology and New Media | E-Commerce
Singapore Management University