As news about vaccines gives new hope to ending this pandemic, event companies are honing in on the next phase for the industry: hybrid events. Event platform Bizzabo has now raised almost $138 million to fuel its continued growth in this sector.
The company, founded in 2011, announced today that it has raised $138 million in its Series E funding round led by Insight Partners. This represents the largest private investment in an event tech platform to date, and in a year that has seen unprecedented investment in this space. However, Bizzabo's story is unique in that the company has been incredibly successful in the live event market, and has now effectively pivoted to become a market leader in the virtual space.
While in-fact most legacy platforms struggled to come up with virtual solutions in a very short amount of time, Bizzabo is one of the few examples that succeeded in both environments. This is what Insight Partners, the company behind investments such as Twitter, Shopify and Cvent must have seen in the Israeli company. Knowledge of the live event market will be instrumental once the industry is allowed to go back to in-person.
The round comes a month after Hopin closed a series B round of $125 million at a $2 billion valuation. This unprecedented capital injection in event technology will have profound ramifications in the supplier market. Traditional suppliers will now need to compete with technology companies that will have considerably higher resources. The resulting change for the industry is of seismic proportions.
Bizzabo had previously raised $27 million in Series D funding as of April 2019, which brought its total funding to $56 million up to that point. The event tech company is betting on the hybrid future of professional events and will be using this new investment capital to expand its hybrid offerings.
Following a devastating year for the events industry that included widespread layoffs — with Bizzabo itself letting go of 25 percent of its workforce in March — the company was able to quickly hire back its team while working to meet the demand for virtual solutions, and is now planning to hire over 100 new employees and open two new European offices in 2021.
We spoke with Bizzabo Co-Founder, CCO & CMO Alon Alroy to learn more about what this means for the company and what the future has in store.
Moving Towards Hybrid
This recent round of funding was the fastest round Bizzabo has ever done, roughly two months, and Alroy notes that they were approached by investors who "already had a very high level of conviction" because they had thoroughly analyzed the industry and had come to the conclusion that hybrid is the future.
According to Alroy, this new injection of capital will be used to expand all of Bizzabo's teams, with most of it going to technology and product. He also explains part of what made Bizzabo stand out to investors:
"They were impressed by our execution capabilities — the fact that we can move fast, drive change, and that we can approach it in a humble way. We're not pretending to know it all — who knows how hybrid will actually look? But I think we have the right team to execute and lead that future."
- Alon Alroy, Co-Founder, CCO & CMO, Bizzabo
Bizzabo has a history of pivoting to new tech solutions when necessary — they were one of the first companies to expand into the mobile app market, and their policy is to always listen to what their customers want in order to adapt accordingly. Now, Alroy notes, "[they're] going to have the resources to do so."
When transitioning to the hybrid model, Alroy emphasizes that it will be complex and will likely result in higher production costs.
"The dependence on technology [for hybrid] is going to be almost absolute, which is very different from what it was until now. You will not be able to run real hybrid events without technology operating at scale. And for that, you need amazing infrastructure, an amazing team, and excellent service."
Leading the Industry's Recovery
Alroy also notes that Bizzabo is dedicated to the events industry and to making sure that the company's success brings others along with it: "I think it's very good news for the industry because we're very industry-focused."
"The event industry is built on live events, and we're going to really advocate and try to make it as easy as possible to go back to live events with our onsite solutions and our virtual solutions. As a market leader, we're going to try to be very open to integrations and help companies to grow faster because of our growth."
This year has been one of the most challenging ever for the event industry, but it has also spurred technological innovation forward at an incredible pace.
Bizzabo is the latest event tech company to have completed an impressive investment round, and will be a key player as the industry moves to hybrid.