With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies and organizations that didn’t make the necessary adjustments found themselves in hard times. But those who did, made it big time: Bizzabo, which originally developed a platform for convention management and during the pandemic has shifted to organizing virtual events, announced a $138 million funding round. The investment was led by Insight Partners, with participation from Viola Growth, Next47, and OurCrowd.
Began as in-person, shifted to virtual, and now moving to hybrid
Originally, Bizzabo’s system focused on managing and marketing conventions, conferences, and other business-oriented events, enabling event organizers the ability to create a personal experience for every participant. Furthermore, the system provides valuable insight to the success of the event, as well as its business impact. Bizzabo’s platform provides event organizers with an end-to-end solution that covers all the needs and wants to plan an event, all in one place - starting with creating a drag&drop website, participant registration management, marketing and social media campaigns.
During the chaos of Coronavirus, most in-person conferences were canceled, and those that weren’t moved over to a virtual format. As a result, Bizzabo had sent employees on furloughs, others were laid off, and management even cut their own salaries. Not willing to throw in the towel, the company started developing a platform for virtual events that resembles the real thing. Bizzabo’s platform is also behind Geektime Code 2020, which went virtual as well this year.
In a conversation with Geektime, co-founder and CMO Alon Alroy explains that the company is already prepared for the day after COVID. As of right now, it seems that the world is still not ready for in-person events, but rather hybrid events, where some participants will be in-person, while others join virtually, though through the system can still actively participate.
Bizzabo reports that in comparison to last year, its platform saw a 65% increase in demand, even registration went up 500%. “With the world prepping for vaccines, we envision significant growth with the return of in-person events alongside the hybrid ones. We are excited and proud that the virtual solution that was launched earlier this year has helped thousands of companies to continue to grow throughout these challenging times,” said CEO and co-founder Eran Ben-Shushan.
Valuation quadrupled itself in a little less than a year
Alroy declined telling us the actual valuation based on the current funding round, but noted that the company quadrupled its valuation since the last funding round in April 2019, when they raised $27 million.
Alroy believes that most of the 2021 events will still be kept in a local format, and the hybrid events will start becoming the standard, at least for now. “We think that the virtual events will still be around, they offer participants better accessibility and they are a lot cheaper to organize. Therefore, we estimate that along with the return to in-person events, the virtual ones will still stick around, and the hybrids will start gaining traction,” explains Alroy.
Bizzabo employs a team of 175 workers split between Kiev, NYC, and Tel Aviv, with Alroy noting that they plan on recruiting over 100 new employees, around half of them for the Tel Aviv R&D center. The company has raised a total of $195 million to date.