RingCentral's savvy acquisition of Hopin's main assets could prove a shrewd investment. With a new pricing structure, fresh approach to customer data and some handy AI enhancements, RingCentral Events is now ready for the spotlight.
Just three months after acquiring the Hopin Events, Hopin Session, and Boomset assets from Hopin, RingCentral announced today the global availability of RingCentral Events. The $15-$50 million paid for the assets is a tiny amount for a company with a current market capitalization of $2.6 billion. Nevertheless, the clock is ticking, and events are now firmly part of the company’s offering.
RingCentral has moved quickly in updating the product and returning it to the market. In a relatively short time, RingCentral has tweaked the platform, making some noteworthy changes. It also says it has managed to keep the power and ease of use that Hopin’s client base appreciates.
“With RingCentral Events, we’re giving customers an incredibly frictionless experience – with the flexibility to host either a single or multi-track event, advanced customization options, and now infused with AI to drive smarter event experiences for both organizers and attendees,” said Kristen Koenig, Head of Channel and Business Partnerships, RingCentral Events.
Complementing Existing Solutions
The strategy behind the acquisition seems straightforward. The new RingCentral Events product complements its RingCentral Video (video chat), RingCentral Rooms (hardware setup for video calls), and RingCentral Webinar (webinars) products. It is not immediately clear why the company markets the products separately. The interfaces are similar, but presumably, the separation allows for different pricing tiers and packages.
One of the most significant changes to selling the product is regarding pricing. RingCentral recognized that Hopin’s pricing was difficult to understand and became a challenge. As a result, it will offer RingCentral Events a simplified plan with unlimited events per year and tiered attendee pricing starting at $750 per license annually. “That predictable pricing model is going to be a huge competitive advantage for us within companies,” said Michael Helmrbrecht, RingCentral’s vice president of product management.
The company is betting on the platform’s modular nature to make it a valid all-in-one solution for virtual, in-person, and hybrid events. RingCentral offers a single-vendor solution with a complete package for simple onsite events. “We’ll ship a package straight to them for their event. It’s gonna be a ring central pelican case. It’s gonna have pre-loaded applications on the iPads for check-in this can be basically plug-and-play for our customers”, said Brantley Pace, vice president of go-to-market, events. For further production needs, it has an extensive but focused partner network providing equipment rental and professional services.
Helmrbrecht confirmed the system could host events for more than 100,000 attendees. He added that this capability was attractive to RingCentral when considering the acquisition. He also highlighted the platform’s flexibility in making it easy for users to create high-production value events.
New Approach to Customer Data
When asked how RingCentral will approach customer data, Helmrbrecht confirmed that the data belongs to customers alone and that the company does not use customer data for marketing or otherwise. “Customers data is their data. It’s our job to enable them to be successful before, during and after events and use that data to achieve their goals, but it’s theirs,” said Helmrbrecht.
Hopin previously took a shared ownership approach to user data. Attendees were forced to create a Hopin user account to access events on the platform. While this enabled attendees to access any event on Hopin quickly, it also meant that Hopin could market potentially competing events to users on its event marketplace. This approach placed many potential customers on the back foot.
Personalization and AI Power
Personalization is a big focus for RingCentral. It has worked to make creating and customizing events on the platform as simple as possible. Templates with fully customizable and modular blocks for agendas, speakers, sponsors, and content are now available. This is likely an essential request for the company’s mainly corporate client base, for whom banding is paramount.
Artificial intelligence is also soon to be integrated into the platform. It will feature AI-powered copy generation and an AI-powered video editable to repurpose session video content into short social-media-friendly videos. The system will enables users to launch an AI-powered chatbot trained on specific event data to answer attendee questions and free up the planner’s valuable time.
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