Hopin, the virtual events startup that saw its star (and valuation) rise quickly during the Covid-19 pandemic, is most definitely coming down to earth. Today the company announced that it has sold its Events and Session business units to RingCentral for an undisclosed sum. Events is Hopin’s event management platform for planning and producing virtual and hybrid events, while Session is its toolset for managing interactive engagement during events.
The companies said that the acquisition will tech assets, customer relationships (that is, customers using the tools), and engineering, product, and go-to-market talent. All of these will be added to RingCentral’s video solutions business, adding events to its existing offerings in meetings, webinars and video “rooms.”
We have reached out to Hopin to ask if the RingCentral will become a shareholder in Hopin as a result of the deal.
The news is the latest chapter in a turbulent time for Hopin, which was founded in London in 2019 and became one of the rising stars during the pandemic, providing tools to companies to organize and run virtual events — conferences, large meetings — after they could no hold live, in-person gatherings. (Disclosure: TechCrunch has been a customer of Hopin’s.)
The company raised more than $1 billion in venture funding and in 2021 — coming off of a huge couple of years of business during the pandemic — it was valued at nearly $7.7 billion.
That torrent of business, however, started to dry up, not just because a number of competitors entered the field, but because many in-person events — if they didn’t disappear altogether — gradually started to return. An article in the FT from April 2022 noted that its “explore” tab, for discovering virtual confabs that one might want to attend, listed fewer than 500 events, down from more than 15,000 in November 2020.
Hopin has not raised any further money since 2021, and between then and now it has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs affecting hundreds of employees.
RingCentral, which competes with conferencing services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoogleMeet, will be using the new assets to further diversify its business. In the age-old technology struggle in which the question of “is this a platform, or a service on a platform” is asked, this move firmly puts virtual events into the latter category.
“We see an opportunity to redefine how video communication is experienced. This acquisition is a key next step in our journey to deliver more personalized and engaging video meetings and events for customers,” said Vlad Shmunis, founder, chairman, and CEO of RingCentral, in a statement. “We expect the technology and outstanding talent from Hopin will accelerate our ability to achieve these goals and help us differentiate our entire video portfolio.”
Hopin becomes a strategic partner of RingCentral with this deal, but it will will continue to operate as a standalone business with its remaining products StreamYard for live streaming, Streamable for video hosting, and Superwave for “community building.”
“We’ve built a world-leading events platform trusted by both internal and customer-facing teams at large enterprises and SMBs around the world,” added Johnny Boufarhat, founder and CEO of Hopin. “We are thrilled to see the technology that Hopin has been developing over the years find a new home with RingCentral, a recognized UCaaS and CCaaS leader. We’re excited about RingCentral’s plans to grow and invest in the Events and Session platforms as we continue to pursue our vision of building a Community Suite for creators and influencers.”
Video streaming is undeniably going to continue to grow across the industry, but the question for these two companies will remain: what will businesses and business users be willing to pay for, and log in to use, in that bigger opportunity?