RingCentral is known for its enterprise cloud communications, video conferencing and contact center solutions. Last week the company took a significant step forward in its evolution of video communication experiences by acquiring part of Hopin, an online audience engagement company that rose to unicorn status during the Covid-19 pandemic. RingCentral acquired Hopin’s flagship “virtual venue” Events platform as well as Hopin Session, a customizable video engagement and experiences platform used for business meetings.
The acquisition expands RingCentral’s video portfolio to address a broad range of enterprise communications needs, encompassing meetings, webinars, rooms and now specialized video use cases around interactive events. It comes amid a period of change for RingCentral, which I’ll be covering in more detail in later articles.
At a time when many people want to return to in-person events, limited budgets are hindering attendance from reaching pre-pandemic levels. Despite efforts by nearly all the video and events platform companies to enhance hybrid gatherings, remote participants usually still have less-than-ideal experiences. The acquisition of Hopin Events and Hopin Session by RingCentral addresses many current challenges in how people gather.
Events and Sessions take center stage
Hopin Events is an all-in-one event management platform. Events facilitates the planning and execution of virtual and hybrid events regardless of size and format, from ticketing and registration to post-event polls and most things in between. With RingCentral Events, existing and new clients can host conferences with multi-track sessions, create virtual sponsor booths and more. The solution is highly customizable from a branding perspective. It produces pre-event, real-time and post-event analytics to track registration, attendance (segmentable by track, sponsor booths and more) and interaction and engagement data. Back-end data integration allows users to push this data to a CRM or marketing automation tool. For marketers, this streamlines targeted marketing campaigns and personalized follow-up communications.
I have yet to attend an event on the platform, but a demo of Events shows a simplified event planning experience for organizers and an engaging and inclusive experience for attendees. Integrating virtual and physical experiences through interactive features and engagement tools like these enriches the overall event experience for all participants, especially remote ones. Since remote work and virtual events have become more prevalent, making these experiences stand out is also increasingly important. Previous event data from Hopin Events shows that better event experiences translate to increased attendee satisfaction, improved networking opportunities and greater overall value for event organizers. I believe this addition to RingCentral’s offerings could enhance the ease of group collaboration and increase event engagement.
In a similar vein, the Session platform is intended to make meetings more interactive, engaging and personalized and is expected to complement RingCentral’s existing video solutions. According to Hopin, Session is a “lightweight, fun and super interactive webinar and meetings product” that allows businesses to conduct more efficient and meaningful meetings—from all-hands to webinars to training workshops—in which participants can actively contribute and connect, fostering a sense of virtual togetherness. The platform is highly customizable, so meeting organizers can create the feeling of a bespoke experience with the ease of a self-serve platform. As companies strive to keep workers connected in remote and hybrid work models, I believe the ability to facilitate interactive and productive meetings will be a critical factor in maintaining team cohesion.
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These two additions join RingCentral’s current portfolio of video solutions, which includes RingCentral Video, a Zoom-like meetings-from-anywhere solution, RingCentral Rooms for video collaboration in any space and RingCentral Webinar for broadcast-style meetings to large audiences of up to 10,000 participants. Each platform can be accessed from a desktop, browser or mobile app.
RingCentral invites the Hopin Events and Session teams to hop on in
The Hopin acquisition includes the two technology assets, existing customer relationships and a team of nearly 100 employees, including engineering and product staff. The talent acquisition looks to me like a win all around. Acquiring the IP is one thing, but having the talent behind the product is vital for maintaining quality and evolving with industry needs. For the former Hopin staff, there could be some culture shock going from a venture-funded startup to a publicly traded enterprise whose roots are in telephony. However, Hopin has weathered multiple layoffs recently, likely due to the slowdown in pandemic-driven growth. On the other hand, RingCentral was just named as one of the top three large companies for career growth in Comparably’s annual rankings.
What will become of Hopin and its other products, including Streamyard for livestreaming, Streamable for video hosting and Superwave for community-building? The company plans to “pursue our vision of building a Community Suite for creators and influencers,” according to Hopin’s founder and former CEO Johnny Boufarhat. Boufarhat stepped down last week as CEO. Badri Rajasekar, chief technology and product officer, is taking on the CEO role.
Is the answer to video fatigue better video?
This acquisition makes sense to me. There is a growing demand for more personalized and engaging video meetings and events, especially if they can address the “video fatigue” that so many people are feeling after years of lockdown and cobbled-together hybrid work arrangements. RingCentral certainly could have built its own products to meet these event and engagement needs, but Hopin’s Events and Session products have been battle-tested through many events over many years, and they come with a list of clients in tow.
As the products and the team transition to RingCentral, I expect that Events and Session will go through some branding and UI changes. It will be a delicate balance to maintain a look, feel and functionality that remains familiar to Hopin customers while also meeting the expectations of RingCentral customers.
As businesses continue to adapt to remote and hybrid work models, the ability to simplify business communications and host intelligent, engaging and interactive meetings and events becomes paramount. With this acquisition, RingCentral is well-positioned to empower organizations with the tools to enhance collaboration, productivity and connectivity. In this case, RingCentral’s buy-vs.-build decision was a smart one, in my opinion, especially because the Hopin team is accompanying the product.
Enterprise communication is undergoing a significant transformation to adapt to wholesale changes in how people work, how companies interact with customers and the expectations that those customers have. I think that RingCentral, with its recent introduction of AI-powered solutions and advancements in frontline worker communication (I wrote about both of those things here) is displaying its ability to compete by adding these new events capabilities to meet the demands of a rapidly changing ecosystem. As previously mentioned, RingCentral is in a period of change, which includes a new CEO, other C-suite changes and key additions to its roadmap. I look forward to watching how the executive transitions and product rollouts unfold and sharing a more thorough analysis soon.