LinkedIn is investing in Hopin, both in cash and through an undisclosed platform-level partnership that also includes Streamyard. As the companies continue to bet on a future with virtual events this partnership could give Hopin an unassailable lead in the virtual event platform space.
Hopin announced today that LinkedIn had become an investor in the company, an investment that has come through its oversubscribed Series C secondary round. According to CNBC, LinkedIn purchased under $50 million worth of shares from existing shareholders at the same $5.65 billion valuation.
While $50 million is by no means a small investment, the potential of a Hopin-LinkedIn partnership will undoubtedly raise many more eyebrows in the event industry. As recently as October 2020, we reported on how LinkedIn was stepping up its virtual events products and also how its offering of LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live falls short of the needs of most B2B events.
Could it be different this time?
In terms of future plans, it’s worth remembering that Streamyard is one of the few third-party tools that powers streaming to LinkedIn Live, a partnership that pre-dates Hopin’s acquisition of the platform. While no further details we release of the plans for the partnership, the statements demonstrate a clear intent on some form of integration and joint events focused offering.
Virtual events are here to stay, and we recognize our customers use many platforms, so we want to make it easy for them to extend the reach of their live events onto LinkedIn. Together with Hopin and Streamyard, we’ll be exploring more ways that we can help event organizers and attendees build meaningful connections and form long-lasting communities.
- Scott Roberts, VP of Business Development at LinkedIn
We’re grateful to have LinkedIn’s support and shared vision to provide meaningful connection around the world. LinkedIn is more than just an investor, we are closely collaborating to help LinkedIn members and Hopin users engage with more people and discover immersive experiences. We can’t wait to share more soon as Hopin continues to transform the way we all connect.”
- Johnny Boufarhat, CEO and Founder of Hopin
There is a feeling of connection, community, and immersive experiences in both quotes. There is also a sentiment that both companies are betting on events continuing to occur online regardless of the return to in-person events. They also reflect a view that the post-pandemic work world will be very different.
What could this mean in practice?
There are multiple scenarios to consider here.
- keyboard_arrow_right Deeper integration of LinkedIn in Hopin’s networking and community functionality. While most platforms have limited access to LinkedIn’s API, if Hopin gets deeper access, there is the potential to do amazing things with LinkedIn’s unbeatable B2B dataset of 752 million members. Before 2015, LinkedIn allowed for much more open access to its API, resulting in some impressive data visualizations as well as abuses of the platform.
- keyboard_arrow_right Further integration with Steamyard could make it the exclusive platform for LinkedIn Live, perhaps even integrating it into the LinkedIn platform to directly power LinkedIn Live. Currently, users must use third-party software to stream on LinkedIn Live.
- keyboard_arrow_right Integrating with Hopin to make LinkedIn Events more robust. Even a light version of Hopin’s chat, Q&A, and similar audience interaction features and the ability to have an event lobby and run multiple streams would be a gamechanger for LinkedIn Events.
All these scenarios are possible, even probable, and the two companies certainly have the resources to make this happen. LinkedIn is unlikely to close the door entirely to other platforms, but how much it integrates with Hopin and other platforms remains to be seen. In addition, the complex issue of pricing and access to features will undoubtedly be challenging to manage and hotly debated.
What is clear is that LinkedIn’s disregard for the event industry is ending, and this deal may hold the key to winning the current battle for supremacy of virtual event platforms. Hopin has once again made a power move that may just tilt the balance in its favor.