With Hopin sweeping up more investment from venture capitalist as their fundraising endeavours draws to a close, it looks as though the events tech space landscape may never be the same. During the investment rounds, Hopin managed to raise $400 million, which values it at $5.65B for its Series C, which is huge for a company started just two years ago in 2019.
In a field where events and conferences are so important to making deals and generally showcasing one’s new wares – and typically take place in person when there isn’t a pesky global health-crisis continuing its stranglehold on society – then what does the emergence of new rip-roaring technology that allows events to happen online mean for businesses?
If you’re wondering what makes Hopin so different to, say, a largescale Zoom call, then it’s simple; they really do try their hardest to emulate the real event experience, albeit on a virtual platform. Their software recreates the feeling of navigating an exhibition floor, networking with other people in your field, watching various keynote speakers and engaging in general chats with likeminded business sorts.
Now Hopin aren’t they only ones offering this service and a lesser known, albeit still worthy, contender exists in the shape of Airmeet, alongside the likes of All In The Loop, Canapii and EventX, who are all comparable in their own ways. On top of that, Bizzabo are a huge competitor to Hopin and recently received a sizeable investment, taking $138 million in December of 2020.
In truth, there’s a frankly startling number of these sorts of businesses cropping up and each and every one of them seems to have their own USP. A company simply called Welcome sees itself as the “Ritz-Carlton for event platforms,” while Spotify itself is having a bash at live online events. Meanwhile, Clubhouse, InEvent and Hubilo are also hanging about.
Given Instagram’s current business model, I won’t be at all surprised if they launched their own online events platform, followed by Twitter four years later, who go on to claim that its revolutionary and call it something like ‘nEst’.
As for real world events though, it’s unclear what the future holds for them. It seems unlikely that they will be replaced entirely with online conferences. Regardless of how convincing and useful certain apps and platforms are, they will never truly be able to recreate a boisterous CEO or two having one too many shandies and hitting the exhibition floor with an aim to make deals, shake hands with as many people as possible and throw their weight around.
Everyone will be sober in online conferences and will also have the opportunity to step away from their computer or phone to answer the door or make a coffee or simply just pretend to be working while actually watching YouTube. I’m not saying I’d do that… Just some irresponsible sorts might?
With that said, there are around – and this is a rough estimate – 17 billion conferences every month, so it stands to reason that platforms like Hopin could be useful for the less prestigious events that certain people may not deem important enough to fly to another country or take a day off work to visit, but will still be interested in checking out.
Of course, while the pandemic continues, the likes of Hopin are our best hope of emulating the event experience and by all means, people could prefer this new, less social, way of life. Who’s really to say what the attitude will be once we come out of this…
Again, if we were to turn our interests to Bizzabo, they seem to work the balance between virtual and in-person perfectly, offering ticketing and event management for in-person events as well as virtual hosting and streaming, with their virtual, physical and hybrid events platform.
By all accounts, Hopin are surely planning something similar and will presumably be heavily investing in more engaging innovative virtual experiences. They’ve taken too much money to stand still. The virtual events space is crying out for more innovation and maybe Hopin will bring it.
Earlier this year Hopin acquired StreamYard for $250 million; not an insignificant amount of money for the start-up livestreaming service and you can only imagine what Hopin have planned for that.
On that note, we have #MarTechFest Dial Up coming up; the internet version of our famous (and much aped) anti-conference, which will take place for a whole working week from the 19th to the 25th of April, 2021!
You can get your pass for that week of loveliness right here.