Established event players MeetingPlay and Aventri will merge, helped by an undisclosed investment from two private equity firms, the companies announced Thursday. The deal marks the latest in a wave of consolidation driven by the demand for hybrid and virtual event capabilities.
The financial currents swirling around the event tech industry for the last year or so continue to pick up speed. And Thursday’s announcement of a merger between Aventri and MeetingPlay represents yet another seismic shift in the industry.
Sunstone Partners and Camden Partners are the two private equity firms providing new investment help. No specific financial details were provided.
The same forces driving event planners towards incorporating virtual and hybrid platforms are enticing capital investment entities to get in the game. In turn, with higher demand and more funding, event providers are reframing both their market positions and their relationships with their clients.
One trend is undeniable: Major capital investment is fueling mergers and acquisitions engineered to pull diverse suites of event technology platforms under one roof. In the last six months alone, Bizzabo has acquired Klik, TeeVid, x.ai, and Whalebone. After receiving a major investment from Zoom and acquiring Shoflo, Cvent is now being publicly traded on the Nasdaq global market. And Hopin has acquired Attendify, Boomset, Topi, Streamyard, Streamable, and Jamm while securing two record-breaking rounds of financing worth $850 million, including a $50 million dollar investment from LinkedIn.
The tendency to move towards creating the event tech firm as a one-stop shop is intended to make it possible for clients to work with a single provider at all stages: That means end-to-end planning, live streaming and digital engagement for virtual and hybrid events, and access to analytic data to gauge the success of the event. Many of the mergers and acquisitions that Event MB has been tracking are geared towards pulling together a suite of integrated technologies under one umbrella, with the promise that a client will receive not only a comprehensive solution for all their primary event needs — but also a whole array of bells and whistles.
The most recent of these is the MeetingPlay and Aventri merger. This follows Sunstone’s investment of $75 million into MeetingPlay in June 2021 — and its merger with Aventri takes the form of an equity investment by the same “growth-oriented private equity firm”, this time in combination with Camden Partners.
The new company will boast a combined base of over 10,000 total clients (and 1,100 active monthly clients) and offices in the US, the UK, and Australia. When combined the companies are involved in more than 50,000 events serving more than 7 million attendees.
From a product standpoint, this merger will bring Aventri’s well-established end-to-end event management solutions together with MeetingPlay’s expertise in providing bespoke event tech for enterprise-level events. The new company can offer solutions to events from less than 100 to 200,000+ attendees.
Joe Schwinger, co-founder of MeetingPlay, sees it as a natural partnership that will harness Aventri and MeetingPlay’s recognized strengths, noting that Aventri’s “multiple layers of depth of product between the call for papers, event management, budgeting, and registration” will allow MeetingPlay to bring its white-label approach to a broader field of clientele:
“Our customers want and call upon us to service their smaller meetings, not just their tier one. So really the combination of these two companies brings Aventri capabilities of service to break more into tier one, but for MeetingPlay, it brings us the breadth of product and the global footprint that we’ve been striving for over the last couple years.”
Joe Schwinger, Co-founder of MeetingPlay
This merger aims to launch the yet-to-be-named firm into the ranks of the top five major players in event tech. The companies plan to merge their proprietary software platforms to offer a complete event management solution.
Eric Lochner, who will helm the new firm as CEO, believes that the culture of prioritizing clients common to MeetingPlay and Aventri will help cement the new firm’s identity and, he hopes, differentiate it from other event tech products: “There’s a passion that both MeetingPlay and Aventri have for clients, and I do think that’ll continue to be a clear differentiator for us in the industry.” Lochner may be a new name to the event industry, but he has over 25 years of experience in tech and has been part of multiple mergers and acquisitions.
Co-founder and former MeetingPlay CEO Joe Schwinger, and Co-Founder and former MeetingPlay COO Lisa Vann will remain with the new company and undertake executive roles. Former Aventri CEO Jim Sharpe will remain a shareholder and advisor to the new company.