Eventbrite announced yesterday that it was letting go 45% of its staff. What does it mean for the delicate balance of the event technology sector?
Many Eventbrite workers are referring to what happened yesterday as to the ‘Blood Orange Wednesday’. It was heart-wrenching to see the news of Eventbrite laying of approximately 500 ‘Britelings’ unfold on Twitter.
Greetigns, I just found out that Eventbrite is laying off 45% of their workforce and I’m one of them.
Obviously We’re in strange times but I’m currently looking for a new position. Preferably based in Nashville, or remote-friendly.
Here’s my resume: https://t.co/joPYSNNfyD
— Andy Matthews (@commadelimited) April 8, 2020
I immediately followed up with our contacts at Eventbrite, some of whom I have worked with for the past five years, who confirmed the news — adding that they were let go themselves.
Eventbrite has been one of this blog’s first advertisers. We go back a long time, and this news was horrible to read. Especially knowing the heart and dedication that the company invested in human resources, I can only imagine how painful this has been for one of the few — yet very successful — women CEOs of the event industry, Julia Hartz.
The news was followed by many rumors that more eventtech companies were furloughing or laying off. An armageddon.
#eventtech armageddon today with many rumors of more companies laying off.
— Julius Solaris (@tojulius) April 8, 2020
It was naive for me to think that, by now, most event technology companies had adjusted to the crisis. I imagined that the pivot to virtual was protecting them from the s#!+show that is this coronavirus crisis.
I was wrong.
The reality is that Eventbrite needed to free up $100M to make up for the lost business, which some sources say amounts to 90%, and they are not alone.
It is fair to assume that many event technology companies are facing the same problem. As much as they rush to create virtual tools or change their marketing narrative to support a pivot to virtual, more cash will be needed in the short term.
Eventbrite’s revenue from virtual amounted to just 10%. This may not be the case for smaller companies that have pivoted their products to virtual, but even if we spike up the figure to 20% or 30%, we are still talking about more than half of their revenue lost.
What Will the Event Technology Landscape Look Like?
On the other hand, smaller, more agile companies may get a bigger piece of the virtual pie — especially as Zoom is getting a ton of bad publicity and virtual event requirements become more sophisticated.
This is the case with some of the smaller players I’ve had the chance to talk to.
Some of them mentioned that they are experiencing unprecedented demand.
Some others are getting fast and large funding.
A few have a clear agenda to take on the bigger guys.
In essence, the coronavirus is shaking things up dramatically in the already delicate balance of the event technology market.
Event technology is geared toward live shows.
The need now is for virtual. Companies that looked up to Eventbrite and Cvent as their main competitors are now analyzing Zoom or Google Meet, thinking “how can we do this better?”
The coronavirus is leveling up the playfield, making competitive advantages such as a vast field salesforce irrelevant.
Who Will Thrive in this New Landscape and For How Long?
It seems obvious that we are playing a completely different game — one where mergers and acquisitions are a thing of the past, comparable to dining out at a restaurant during the lockdown.
The new event technology arena will be made of those companies that survive the next nine months. Those companies are flexible enough to adapt their offering to virtual events.
But that’s not all.
As you may or may not know, events won’t be the same for the next few quarters. Once the emergency is over, event technology companies will be asked to deliver a product to a completely different market.
They will be asked to once again rethink their offering. Namely, for smaller meetings with a global connection.
Event technology will act as the glue binding local events together, connecting them on a global scale.
Therefore, those celebrating now may struggle once again tomorrow. If they can adapt, companies like Meetup or the Eventbrite of 2008 will once again gain traction.
I know most of you reading this article are planners. I know also that there are many eventtech leaders avidly consuming every word we write.
This message is for you during one of the most difficult times we are facing as an industry. Be flexible, be nimble, and offer event planners in dire straits tools that they need now, in three months, in six months, and in a year’s time.
These tools may differ. That means sleepless nights developing new software for you and constant reorganization. The main objective is to survive and to thrive once things get back offline.
One thing is for sure: Every event planner dismissive of event technology will remember how virtual saved their business during these incredibly challenging times, and at that stage, all the attention you craved for the past 10 years will materialize in a few days.