Whereas household names such as Eventbrite and Cvent took significant hits in the past few months, virtual event technology companies are thriving. Many report that they can't keep up with demand and others are securing massive rounds of investment.
While some event tech giants are buckling under the economic strain of the events industry hiatus brought on by the coronavirus, the virtual event tech landscape is blossoming with investment interest — pointing to a bright future for the category.
Some of these tools have just debuted, while others are more established and are gaining a sudden boost in demand. The trend seems to be confirmed by several recent investments in the virtual event tech industry.
Could this be the opening new players have been waiting for?
Run The World Announced Series A Funding
Back in April, we included online events platform Run The World in a list of tools that could help event professionals pivot to virtual. Run The World is a newcomer in the online events landscape, having launched only at the end of February 2020 with seed funding of $4.3 million. On May 21, after dramatic user growth over the past three months, they announced a new round of funding through Series A, bringing their total funding to approximately $15 million. Will Smith and Kevin Hart’s venture capital funds, among others, have invested in the platform, betting that the future of events lies in virtual.
Bevy Just Finalized Series B Funding
Bevy is another software company leveraging the increasing importance of virtual events. While Bevy was created in 2017 with in-person community events in mind, they had been moving towards virtual events even before the start of the pandemic. Now, they are marketing themselves as “the only enterprise-grade virtual event community platform,” and have just raised $15 million in Series B funding. This is another clear indicator of the growing interest of investors for online events.
Verizon is Integrating BlueJeans Meetings in Their Business Offering
Verizon purchased BlueJeans back in mid-April, and while it may have seemed like a savvy move to take advantage of the new work-from-home normal, the talks had actually been underway for a long time before the coronavirus. Verizon was already selling BlueJeans services as of early 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic sped up the acquisition process tremendously.
BlueJeans, the cloud-based video conferencing and event platform, has now been fully integrated into Verizon’s productivity solutions for business, which seems to indicate that Verizon is willing to bet on remote work being a bigger part of corporate life in the years to come. This might also be an indication that Verizon assumes companies will be unwilling to let their employees attend live events, especially large ones, in the near future — instead opting for safer and more economical virtual events.
Eventbrite Secures $225 Million
Meanwhile, event tech giant Eventbrite announced in mid-May that they secured $225 million from private equity firm Francisco Partners in a bid to “strengthen its liquidity position and provide greater flexibility to manage through a range of recovery scenarios and the return to live events.”
The increased clout and leverage of these tech giants definitely means more fortitude when it comes to weathering storms like the coronavirus, but their size can be a short-term disadvantage — especially in the beginning — as the required business to sustain them is proportionately large. When something like the coronavirus puts a pause on all events, the economic fuel is much more expensive for these titanic operations than it is for the sleak, scaled-down sails of new tech firms. It will be interesting to see if companies like Eventbrite and Cvent can leverage their resources to pivot as nimbly as newer players.
Investment in virtual event tech signals a bright future for the industry, both as more solutions hit the market and more companies get the funding to develop truly competitive solutions. Major investors are confident virtual events are here to stay, and event planners should be ready to embrace technologies that will become ubiquitous in the long run.