While the event industry got a whiff of normality in 2021, with many parts of the world reopening to in-person events for at least part of the year, the event tech sector was full steam ahead. As a result, 2021 was less about pivoting from in-person to virtual events and more about consolidation and flexible event strategies.
Back in 2020, at the start of the Covid pandemic, event professionals scrambled to find the perfect virtual platform. By 2021 every event professional realized had a taste of multiple platforms, and most were tied to a vendor but still looking to improve the production value of their events. As a result, we started to see market consolidation, with the major players acquiring tools that complemented their product to offer a proficient all-in-one solution.
In our 2022 Event Trends Report, Vesuvio Ventures founder and CEO Marco Giberti noted that the event tech space has been crazy for a couple of years now, with massive valuations making the headlines. In his view, investors saw considerable opportunities in investing in event tech, along with sectors like telemedicine, remote work, or online education that have benefited from the Covid pandemic.
Giberti also noted that some of event tech’s current valuations are unreasonable, but there continues to be excitement around event tech. When it comes to the future, Giberti has no doubts that “the ten to twenty event tech vendors that are in or approaching unicorn status will continue to buy up the others as there is lots of capital available right now.”
2022 has just begun, and we’ve already moved on to the next chapter with Thursday’s announcement of the merger of MeetingPlay and Aventri, which follows on from MeetingPlay’s $75 million capital raise earlier in the year.
One of the highlights of 2021 was Cvent going public for a second time with a valuation of $5.3 billion and receiving a cash injection of around $800 million. What is most interesting about Cvent’s second IPO is that the vast majority of the team remains the same from eight years ago — something unheard of in tech. Stock prices have taken 20 percent a hit since the initial offering, but no alarm bells are ringing just yet.
It has been a busy year for Cvent. As the IPO was announced in July, Zoom was revealed as one of the investors through the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) set up for the public listing. Just before this, Cvent had announced a strategic partnership with Encore, and the following month, it acquired live streaming studio Shoflo. With the cash injection, it’s reasonable to expect more investments.
On the other side of the pond, the UK-based Hopin broke all records. It raised $400 million in March and then went on to raise another $450 million in August. Either round obliterated any previous event tech investment rounds, and no company had ever come close to Hopin’s mouth-watering valuation of $7.75 billion.
Last year, Hopin broke funding records and bought and integrated companies at an impressive rate. The January 2021 acquisition of live streaming platform StreamYard cost a cool $250 million shortly after the acquisition of mobile app company Topi in December 2020. In March, it acquired Streamable and Jamm, two tools to boost its video capabilities behind the scenes. In June, Hopin acquired Boomset to expand its onsite capabilities for in-person and hybrid events. The following month, it brought Attendify into the fold, to improve the platform’s event marketing capabilities.
Judging by Hopin’s market movements so far, it is reasonable to expect further acquisitions in 2022. We may even see an exciting arms race between the two giants if event tech startups can offer something new and complementary to what these platforms already have.
The other major player to have an acquisition spree in 2021 was Bizzabo. The company raised $138 million in December 2020, which, at the time, was an unprecedented round of funding in event tech. In 2021 it acquired four companies: Whalebone, x.ai, TeeVid, and Klik. None of the companies are household names, yet they each add unique features to Bizzabo’s ecosystem, which the company calls Event Experience OS.
Another company to raise an impressive amount of funding in 2021 was Hubilo. It raised $23.5 million in Series A back in February and announced a Series B raise of $125 million in October. However, these significant investments have not been followed by any acquisitions to date.
One of event tech’s legacy players Cisco acquired Socio in May after announcing the intent to acquire Slido in December 2020. With these two acquisitions, Cisco significantly modernized and boosted the capabilities of its Webex platform, also an acquisition from 2007.
Another legacy player to make significant market moves in 2021 was Intrado (since rebranded as Notified). It had a busy summer which peaked with the acquisition of the virtual conference platform Hubb. There was also news of a strategic partnership with AV giant Encore and Swiss remote simultaneous interpretation company Interprefy.
Two more remote simultaneous interpretation companies attracted significant investments in 2021. Lithuania-based Interactio secured $30 million in Series A funding, while Kudo secured $21 million in Series A funding. The future looks promising for these services that enable simultaneous interpretation of online meetings and events.
While other significant investments were made in 2021, these are the ones that stood out. We continually update our Event Tech Investment Tracker with all relevant news, so check back often.