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Reaction: RingCentral acquires Hopin Events?!? | Aaron Cole, CEO V2, LLC

RingCentral just acquired a virtual events platform from Hopin.

Most of the time that'd barely make news.

So what's the big deal?

This acquisition actually has implications FOR YOU beyond just those two companies and their immediate customers.

As you'll hear V2's Aaron Cole and Roger Courville discuss in this thought-provoking episode of Thought Leader Conversations, as they unveil the implications of this significant move for the virtual events and webinars industry. Tune in to stay ahead in the evolving landscape of virtual communication, including learning about:

  • Industry impact: Understand how the acquisition affects the virtual events industry, including insights into how companies like Zoom, StreamYard, and Microsoft might respond -- and what it could mean to you.

  • Technological innovations: Learn about new features and technological advancements that could emerge from this acquisition, particularly an "AI-first" perspective.

  • Pricing strategies: Gain insights into the potential changes in pricing models and how these could disrupt the market, making virtual event platforms more accessible.

  • Future trends: Get a glimpse of what the future holds for unified communications and virtual event platforms, and how this acquisition could set a precedent.

  • Professional perspectives: Benefit from the expert analyst thinking with unique viewpoints and predictions based on extensive industry experience.


Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production,  

Host: Roger Courville, CSP,   

Keywords:   #ringcentral #hopin #virtualevents #futuretrends



[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: So, RingCentral acquires the events platform from Hoppin, and generally most of us wouldn't even care, except that you should care. Hello and welcome, my name is Roger Courville, and we've got something a little different for you today. Uh, we're gonna call it a reaction video because... In a way, this is not just about a deal between two companies.

This is something that affects this industry, virtual events and hybrid events, webinars in a way of streaming in a way that is going to have reverberation for time to come, whether it's ring central, it's hop in, it's stream yard, it's zoom, and maybe it's going to touch down for you. So one of the things that you know about us here at virtual venues is we're kind of a platform agnostic crew that, that.

helps you get to your goals by tying your very specific use case and objectives to a specific platform that help you get to interactions and engagements and the data that falls out of that so that you can get where you need to go and hey if you've ever thought about going beyond the basics I'm glad that you've joined us for yet another conversation where we welcome back to this thought leader conversation.

V2's co founder and CEO, Aaron Cole. Aaron, what the heck just happened and why is this a big deal?

[00:01:19] Aaron Cole: That's a great way to start. Um, well, so Yeah, what just happened? So this is kind of one of those things where I think when you, when you first hear it on face level, you know, you might just read that article or that title and then move on.

But, but there's a lot in here that, that really are likely going to be impactful for what we do in our world. So with the acquisition of, of Hoppin by RingCentral I think we first have to acknowledge that this, this, this was a long time coming, and this was something if you're, if you're in the industry, and if you kind of watch the way these things change, and it's been a crazy ride for the past three and a half years here, this was kind of something that I think everybody kind of expected, where we all really, uh, watched hop in with their timing of the market and their just literal explosion into the world as the adopted, uh, virtual event platform, 1 billion in investor funds.

I think at one point the top valuation was 7. 5 billion when they were at the very highest level. Saw that just massive rocket ship going up, but then obviously, um, a fairly precipitous drop down because of the changing market, the retraction, everything that we've gone through. You know, in the past couple of years, it was kind of an obvious, uh, outcome that Hoppin needed a runway, uh, ring central.

When you look at it from the holistic standpoint, ring central makes sense as, as the eventual suitor. They very clearly are looking to expand into. The Unified Canate Unified Communications Environment. And this does compliment what they're looking to do. So it might not be one that you would say, aha, that makes complete sense.

But it does, uh, when you kind of drill into it and look underneath the hood, it does kind of make a lot of sense. I do think to your point that. again, what's not said in the press releases and where they are already starting to push the hop in product is really what we're talking about here today because there's some, there's some potential big changes in how that is going to affect our market.

[00:03:34] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. And you know, I mean in, And ultimately, along the way here, and Aaron and I don't have a script, clearly, but we do have a lot, a lot, if not way too much experience. And along the way, we do want to have, we will position this in a way that touches down for how this might affect you as a, as an end user.

Right. You're, you're the senior director of marketing at blah, blah, blah, or whatever that happens to be. History repeats itself. And in a way, this is my opinion. This is just my opinion. Aaron and I haven't even talked about this, but in a way I believe that what we're seeing RingCentral do is parallel to what we saw Intercall do along the way.

So when I left Microsoft in 2004 and I co founded a company, we built a registration platform and we ended up. Building a company that we sold to Intercall that went on to become, um, West and went on to become Entrato, right? Huge telecom company and every, every telecom company has been trying to figure out what do we do now that we can't just charge for conference calls in the same way that we've been charging for conference calls, right?

And so they got into, way back when. web conferencing and then video conferencing and now unified communications and they're trying to put packages together that that provide a one stop shop for your company. And so when they have they hit different strata in the marketplace in different ways, right?

Like Cisco. can sell you all of that stuff alongside the Department of Defense and some rather massive global scale people. And then there's a bunch of other people, Zoom's trying to do it, um, you know, Intrado and, you know, that crew has been trying to do it. And RingCentral, who is a public company, has been moving in this direction and they've got a suite of products that, that could be one vendor instead of multiple relationships for that it buyer.

And now they just swoop in and scoop up this thing from hop into Aaron's point, scoop up this thing and add it to their portfolio. So that's, that's important for the, what that implies for, for just unified communications in general. Right. And we'll get to that. It says something about Hopin, to your point, they literally got a billion dollars of money in three years, and now they have come fire sale and sell off a chunk of it for 15 million.

15 million. It's going to have reverberations for other aspects of the industry, including, I would even argue, and we'll get to that, for how Zoom is doing what they're doing with Zoom meetings, Zoom webinars, Zoom events, and GoTo's on a similar path. Right.

[00:06:22] Aaron Cole: Exactly. Yeah. And don't even, and don't forget Microsoft as well as a, as a unified communications partner or provider.

That's a very common target for these companies. Again, like you talked about the larger legacy telco companies that have been scratching their heads, trying to find a way to replace that revenue that is very rapidly drying up from, from, from phone type communication platforms. Um, unified communications is a no brainer and they're in their mind.

And for a ring central, which they're exactly in that market and exactly in that situation to your point, um, it doesn't even sound like this acquisition is going to have an impact on their balance sheet because they are so much. a larger company. Um, but again, it's what are they going to do with it and how are they going to spend that is, is where I think we're both saying from our world and how this affects the people that we work with, it's going to have a major impact.


[00:07:23] Roger Courville, CSP: well, there was even a quote from, and I forget if it was in their 10 Q or in ring central's 10 Q. There was even a quote from like the CFO or somebody going, this isn't even material. I saw that. Which is actual, literal, financial, legal, like. We don't

[00:07:38] Aaron Cole: expect this to have an impact on our financial statement or something like that.

Wow. I know this is kind of like our lunch budget. We

[00:07:47] Roger Courville, CSP: we bought a few extra beers on Friday and then that's platform.

[00:07:52] Aaron Cole: So pretty crazy stuff for sure. So

[00:07:56] Roger Courville, CSP: start with, you know, and just in case you're dropping in, you wondered what the heck this title was. You know, we had V2. We've, uh, you know, been platform agnostic for a long time.

We've been really deep with hop in. And then hop in acquired StreamYard and we still do work with that and they kept StreamYard, right? Yes, and so Aaron my question to you and obviously we're We're asking a similar kind of thing. What what do we think the events acquisition means for the users of of RingCentral.

Yeah. In terms of what that means to their portfolio and then we'll kind of broaden out to the bigger

[00:08:41] Aaron Cole: industry Yeah, yeah. No, that's a great question. Very clearly. Um, so RingCentral currently has a webinar based product, which is very Similar to Zoom type designed product where Hopin now fits is in what they're rebranding as RingCentral Events.

So the minute you get past running a single webinar, um, the minute you look at. needing to run multiple concurrent events or have an ecosystem that people are logging into to participate for a day, a week, a month, whatever. The minute you get into that larger ecosystem, that's where this product fits. And that's no different than what Hoppin provided from the very beginning when they went live in 2019.

Um, it's that larger ecosystem to be able to have. again, virtual events, which is, which is the, the, the defining characteristic, um, for them. And so that's why it does fit fairly well in the ring central portfolio is because there is not something currently in there. They have that webinar product. I would not be at all shocked in the next couple, you know, code cycles.

If we don't hear about an integration to be able to pull the web, the ring central webinar product directly into like a hop in session, for example, that might be a little bit of a gateway for legacy ring central customers to begin using the hop in platform, for example. Um, but very clearly one of the things that I've seen as a, as a.

As an agency of Hopin, so we're kind of following along in this, in this whole journey, um, RingCentral very clearly is, is planning to roll this out to their existing client base, which is tens, thousands of, of existing businesses as the very first low hanging fruit, and they likely will have success with that again, because it's outside of what they currently are at, and it complements it fairly well.

Yeah, and

[00:10:45] Roger Courville, CSP: I think that's an interest. Well, I'll say this in as we maybe transition to saying now, what does that mean for the bigger industry? And maybe even we'll then come back to talking about a couple of the things that RingCentral said that were their positioning points, right? About AI. and what they're intending to do.

But I just want to point this out, um, both in terms of, I want to describe the use case, but also then point out where that else, where else that fits within the industry. Because the word webinar, event, live stream, all of that kind of gets muddy because You know, when, when the word means different things and it kind of means nothing, uh, I'll use one example.

So we clients, I'll use zoom as an example to begin with zoom and zoom meetings for small collab, smaller collaborative things. And then they have zoom webinar, right? And zoom events is like this wrapper that goes around it and you can have a zoom meeting or a zoom webinar as the sessions. So if you imagine a multi session.

To your point, it's a multi session day or even a multi day event where you have a keynote and then several breakouts and then back to another keynote and you've got a vendor area where you can go talk to vendors and places where you can handle handouts and other assets and even virtual networking or things that fit into that kind of context.

There are, that is not a new use case. That's been around for a long time. People tried to solve that in virtual worlds like Second Life. Uh, there have been, you know, Team crews like Unisphere and who got acquired by all the way back in the day who have been building these things that are wrappers that provide all of this additional function.

Like I need a place where I can go mimic the vendor area so people can go over there and meet with the sponsors and then I need to get heard them all into the main hall for the keynote. which some of you could might run on on 24 and then we break them out into key, you know, breakout rooms, you know, and you're going in Helen's room and I'm going to the Rainier room and those run on more collaborative platforms.

So there's a platform, you know, can moment of connection technology. And then there's this rapper thing that goes around it, right? And so Cisco, Well, I mean, WebEx bought Socio to do that very kind of thing, right? So Cisco or WebEx meetings, WebEx webinars now is, has this wrapper called WebEx events.

Zoom's doing the same thing and bam, it looks like that's exactly what is touching down for RingCentral. You know, RingCentral originally, this is about 10 years ago or so, originally built their meeting platform. on zoom, right? That was a zoom partners and then they built their own thing and then zoom sued them and then they counter sued back and whatever.

So, um, uh, I don't think it's on built on zoom anymore, but if it looks like zoom, there's probably, yeah, there's a reason I think to the point is ring central has proven that they've been successful as a fast follower. Here is something that's already going on. There's there. They didn't innovate something here.

What they did is they just bought it. Some technology from Hoppin for really cheap that saves them a whole lot of testing and development time,

[00:14:05] Aaron Cole: right? Exactly. That's exactly it. And I do think to your point again, this is not Necessarily even when Hoppin came out in 2019 This had been tried and, and you know, the virtual environment type of an idea had been around for a very long time.

I feel Hoppin succeeded because they followed, um, the mindset that, which is one thing that we. tend to talk about a lot at V2, which is that the technology should not ever get in way in the way of the messaging of the event. And so we're not necessarily creating avatars or these crazy branded interfaces that people are walking through, but we are providing, to your point, a very effective way for you to get people into an environment and to listen to the keynote and then to go to a breakout that you want and, and, and you go this, you go there, and it's very simple.

It's focused on the messaging and on the content. I think that's one thing that they did that really differentiated themselves. And the second thing is the emphasis on video and having that new code base that they, that they were able to develop in 2019 is light years different from a legacy style platform that is now struggling to keep up with changing and improving code bases because they have.

Almost like in the, you know, in the basement of their, of their, of their code base. They have a lot of baggage that they're still working through. And I think that's another reason why they did so well. Um, all of it makes a lot of sense. And, you know, all of us, when we were in the, the, the throes of COVID and watching Hoppins rise, and I would be the first to agree that, you know, a valuation of 7.

5 billion is, seems pretty extraordinary. But there's a billion dollars of money from people that put direct that was put directly into that company because there obviously was a pretty big belief that they were on to something. And so that to me is the proof in the pudding, you know, and again, come full circle.

That's absolutely why this probably was a screaming deal for Ring Central. It had to happen. It did happen. And then now, where are we going? And that's where to beat the dead horse again, that feels like that that's going to be pretty interesting to watch. Yeah,

[00:16:26] Roger Courville, CSP: well, and I think there's a couple ways that touches down if somebody's listening here and going, you know Maybe even evaluating what they would want to use v2 as a vendor to me There's an argument probably for going on This is one reason why it's might be useful to have a vendor now a production company who is fluent in more than one platform There's an angle with regard to where ring central is going because now we are kind of since grandfathered in with Partnering with RingCentral because of, very much so.

We, we, we've been so deep with the hopin events platform for so long, and, and I think there are industry implications for it because of at least two things that RingCentral has ruled out. A, the, the way they're talking about AI and what we're talking about, disruptive pricing, yes. Could be transformative because it's gonna have ripples with regard to how other people are

[00:17:23] Aaron Cole: thinking what they're doing.

Yep. And, and, and exactly, exactly, exactly. And in my mind, that's, that's where things get real interesting to watch. The AI part is pretty interesting because I think from, from our standpoint, that very clearly has been a ring central injection into the roadmap of Hopin. Hopin, um, prior to the acquisition, um, I can't say this for certain, but I certainly don't remember reading a lot about AI driven initiatives in their roadmap as they were pushing their platform.

Um, you know, AI in our world and pretty much the entire world, it's, it's kind of like, that's the buzzword that everybody's talking about, you know, and, uh, most platforms, sorry, what was that in the set? Everybody else's world

[00:18:08] Roger Courville, CSP: too.

[00:18:09] Aaron Cole: I mean, right. Exactly. It's everywhere. You know, you know, I was, I was even thinking we should, we should come up with like some like Terminator AI index, Roger for AI type things, because it seems like you're either on, you're on this spectrum.

You're either on one side where you're of the belief that AI is going to save you, you know, millions and man hours and creative labor and stuff like that. Or on the other side, you know, call it the Sarah Connor side of the spectrum. You're, you're, you're a little bit leery about where that takes you, you know, but regardless of it, it's, it's the, theory.

It's a big buzzword, and most platforms, when they look at AI, they're looking at it, obviously, from a content creation assistant standpoint, you know. Helping to write blurbs, helping to craft emails, helping to find snippets in your archives that That are what they define as the high point and then providing you a very nice little editable piece of video file that you can then take in and post and and repurpose your content, for example, pretty smart stuff.

No doubt about it. That's exactly where RingCentral is going with their AI elements of it. And I don't believe again that that was directly from Hoppin. So in some ways, I think that might be something that RingCentral, having just got into this market, they're like, That's one of the first things that we need to push forward, you know, um, I think there are, I

[00:19:32] Roger Courville, CSP: think, you know, it remains to be seen whether or not they are just on the bandwagon or they do something with it.

And I think that's, but that's true for everybody, right? Right. Yep. I started in this industry in 1999 when the word, when anything that said com was worth a billion dollars, right? And it does feel like that out there was. Yeah, thing to add. com rogercourville. com right now. I just, it's valuation. And the other thing is AI right now, right?

At the moment, to me, the most obvious places tend to be in content creation. Can I go generate new ideas with regard to titles or descriptions or, or that kind of thing? And it is rap. It was so quickly advancing. The world doesn't even really know where it's where it's now. I know I'm yet right. I think one of the great opportunities that I haven't seen anybody talking about yet.

And this is to me the where the rubber meets the road is where it begins to touch down in production, right? So I worked with I won't name the company because I was under a NDA at the time, but I worked with the company as a consultant quite some years ago that we're in the process of building out a A wizard that would help you when, as you were setting up your virtual platform for a session.

This wizard would walk you through things that would help you apply engagement. So you take the way that you want to think about engaging people, but it would walk you through that and help build out the tools in the configuration that you wanted such that. You could then be more engaging. And it was interesting.

It wasn't just, I just scheduled a poll. It was like interacting with you. Yeah. That was just purely in a fuzzy logic sort of way. That wasn't with an AI thing. I mean, this was pre ai. Yeah. So isn't that interesting intentionality for driving labor outta the process and or getting creative in terms of helping people be better?

Um. is, is, is pretty stunning, but I think one of the things that, uh, they just kept coming back to with RingCentral is AI first, AI first, AI first, and to me, if there's an opportunity that they have, it's that it's not just this events platform, it's the fact that every, every call, phone call, video call, um, virtual event or whatever that they have under this very big umbrella of unified communications.

Every, every one of those is a data point and right. And you being able to learn and grow with the assistance of AI to me could be

[00:22:11] Aaron Cole: huge. Yep. And I do think that that we'll have to see it is, it is pretty interesting. I do think I've seen a much larger push with ring central. Assets, you know, before the hop and acquisition being much more cognizant of that potential with AI.

And it does feel like it is a little bit reactionary. Um, again, kind of shoring up where hop and may have been a little bit, uh, lacks in that. pushing these kind of what I would call fairly standard ways to implement AI into a platform that you're doing events off of, um, you know, as a way to, to kind of get that more on an even playing field.


[00:22:50] Roger Courville, CSP: Here's why I don't think it's, I don't think it takes over the world anytime soon. I, as Aaron would, will corroborate, I've spent a lot of time with AI because I'm also using it to research, do part of my doctoral research and figuring out where and how it can help with how much I need a volume of content I need to sort through.

I can tell you that unless you really have honed your skills as a learning the prompt engineering process, it's hard to get out of AI stuff that. just fascinating at this point. I'm sure it'll get there, but you can't just go, Hey, write me a blog post and have it write a blog post. That sounds as as wise and sharp as a human being and I know I've trained it on my whole, my whole website, my four books and all the papers I've written, I trained an AI chat bot on that and said, Hey, write something that sounds like Roger Courville and it still can't do it.

And the reason I say that is because the value of professional services and human beings being involved. Right. If it could take over the world, then you don't need marketers. You don't need presenters. You don't need virtual event producers like the crew that you hire at V2. And all of that's baloney, right?

It might be able to assist, but it's not the, it's not the be all and all.

[00:24:13] Aaron Cole: So it'll be interesting to see, you know, it'll, it'll, it's, it's a hot topic and it's interesting. Um, you know, to your point across the world, everything is involved in it, um, in terms of kind of seeing where that goes. So. Talk,

[00:24:28] Roger Courville, CSP: this is a lot more practical though.

Talk about what they described as disruptive pricing.

[00:24:35] Aaron Cole: Yeah, I was just gonna, I was just, I want to go back to that because that's, that's the term, that's the term that you see from the CEO. through press releases, disruptive pricing is the way that they're describing how they're reconfiguring the pricing model of Hopin.

And, and if, if we go away from this conversation with nothing more than that as an asterisk of something to watch, I think it would be that without a doubt. And so, again, looking at what they, what they paid right now at the minimum, 15 million for the code base of, of, of Hopin. Um. Which has such a small, if negligible impact, they can afford to largely almost give that product away in an effort of adoption, in an effort of market saturation, and it does kind of feel like that that's where they might be going, and that goes right to that disruptive pricing.

So we're talking about a licensing model that pre Hopin, um, Was, uh, before Hoppin was acquired, the, the minimum acquisition or, or licensing for Hoppin was 17, 000 a year. And it sounds like that that, from a starting point, is going to go down to 750 per year at a lower attendee threshold. That's a sea change.

And again, they can afford to do that. They can afford to roll that out to their entire population of existing ring central clients and blow the doors off of the adoption rates of Hopin. And where I think that truly becomes disruptive, it's not only disruptive for Uh, people that are going to be obviously, you know, saving money quite a bit when you look to license a hop and platform, but it's disruptive, potentially massively for the rest of the market.

There are, it's inevitable. We're, we're going in through a period of consolidation in platforms right now, and I don't know of a lot of startup companies that are in this market. that could probably compete with a threshold level of 750 a year. It is so low, and I think that will very likely cause consolidation to speed up to warp speed.

And I think, I can't help but wonder if that's a large part of the larger play of where RingCentral is going, because they can afford to do it. You know, so that's interesting. Yeah, well,

[00:27:15] Roger Courville, CSP: kind of go back to that, that description of the use case, right? So, of sessions or events is this thing that kind of wraps around other things, right?

So, part of using RingCentral events means you will also be using RingCentral meeting, transport technology, webinar, or streaming technology. And You know, it's just, it's just kind of the glue that kind of put brings all of these things together and add side kind of social component, like, Oh, I also need to have an event where I have some vendors show up and, and I want to do virtual networking as I'm using this to facilitate community in a different way than just a one to many webinar or something like that.

And, um, they were talking about it being like 750 bucks. a year for like, uh, functionally, like all you can eat. Right,

[00:28:15] Aaron Cole: right, exactly. Yeah. Right. So from 17, 000 to 750, that, that's a massive, massive change.

[00:28:26] Roger Courville, CSP: And, but you know, here's the thing over time, labor increases in price and technology commoditizes, right.

It decreases in price. One of the things that I've often seen, I'd be curious to, to even though that's disruptive at the tech, not on the technology side of the equation, I'd be curious to get your kind of executive take on the overall equation, right? Because the expensive part of doing an event, you're going to, you're going to have an event.

I don't care if it's at the local conference center or virtually. The expensive part isn't renting the room. The expensive part is hiring speakers and sending out enough invitations to get 500 people there and providing chicken or fish for lunch or whatever you're doing. So it's not, it's not spending a thousand bucks on the room.

It's, it's all the other stuff that goes on. Not the least of which is the labor of the meeting planning crew and all of the work that goes into serving that 500 people that are going to show up or whatever. I'm just curious if, if there's a. an executive take from your perspective, given your unique space in

[00:29:38] Aaron Cole: the industry.

Well, and I would say it's evolving because I think the variable with what you're, the analogy that you talked about is very apt because yeah, you, you, you've got, you've got the room, the, the roof over your head, but what goes on inside of that's obviously what people are, you know, interested in seeing. Um, and also where you have to spend the most of your creative and environment energy.

labor, all of that stuff. To what degree these systems become more and more autonomous with helping to simplify the time it takes to do things. So like, for example, one of the things, another thing we haven't even touched on here yet, but is talking about, you know, where is ring central going to be taking the hop and code base in terms of features and functionality?

There's an argument to be made that the overall simplification of that, um, You know, and, and by that, I mean, you know, set your hopping event up in 10 minutes. And, you know, because now it's all automated. Now you, you have a very easy thing that pretty much anyone can do. The flip side of that though, is you miss, you, you potentially sacrifice some of that level of customization.

And from our standpoint, some of that level of professional production, that is exactly what. usually will stand out in an event when you're doing an A to B comparison. So it, it does kind of depend on that, you know, it does kind of depend on where they are going to take that code base, if we're talking about Hoppin.

Um, but overall, I think you've got a very good point, you know, as an event planner, uh, it's easy to get fixated on that, you know, hey, I rented a room here, or whatever, and, and, you know, they're going to provide me with chicken, so I'm just going to go with chicken, and I'm going to work on something else.

That's deceptively. Uh, that's a deceptive way of looking at it because there can be a lot of other things that are a part of that, that you might not be thinking about ahead of time. Production from us with the clients that we work with, uh, every day of the week is obviously, um, a very, very big part of what they're doing.

And that. Is difficult, at least in our world right now, we'll see where AI is in five years from now or 10 years from now, it's very difficult to replicate that. And so that's always going to be there, if that makes sense.

[00:31:55] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, you mentioned we hadn't yet talked about features yet, so. I'm going to propose we at least knock down at least two more things before we're, we're, before we're done one, they did announce ring central did announce, uh, a few forward looking features, a couple of which I think are worth noting because I think it will, I actually think it could drive what happens in the broader industry.

And could be very interesting to somebody listening to this going, Oh, that sounds like it could be interesting. I gotta follow 2024. And that might that just might be interesting. And then the second is what this might mean for other components like stream yard or the the streaming, you know, those those transport vehicles.

So right. With regard to like the features, the kind of the forward leaning features. I mean, of course they kept saying AI first over and over. They did mention a couple of things that I thought were interesting that I haven't seen in other platforms in the same way. One was AI driven video editor. Yes.

Right? So like if you, uh, if anybody's been doing any poking around in the world at all, you've, there's a, there's at least two dozen vendors out there where you can upload a long form video, like what we're doing right now. And it will automatically extract little two minute segments for your social media.

Haven't seen that built into anybody's platform, you know, like Webex or zoom or something like that. That could be interesting. AI driven group. groupings in terms of questions and breakouts. So there are some platforms that WebEx, for instance, we serve WebEx, right? Where WebEx in WebEx webinars, you can have questions that get prioritized in the queue based on, say somebody's profile when they register, right?

Oh, I want, uh, I want the people who, who identify. their title in the I. T. space. I want their questions to get prioritized relative to everybody else. Right? That kind of thing. So being, having AI, being able to group questions or summarize questions going, Oh, we got a thousand people here. Four people asked a question that was about like this so that we catch that.

That could be interesting. And similarly, breaking people out into breakouts based on. Some kind of fuzzy logic as opposed to it simply being, um, driven by somebody's registration profile. Yep. Um, yep. It would be interesting.

[00:34:18] Aaron Cole: Very interesting. Yeah. No, and I, I agree. And I think that you can look at those feature sets and you can recognize in them, Continuations of some of the things that, that those are definitely things that happen.

Um, I would again, go back to what I was saying earlier in terms of. Maybe not including the AI elements of it so that it does it for you, but including the idea of the design where in, in the Hoppin speak, you're, you're designing ticket types, which then allow you to identify and allow a registrant to identify to a specific, in this case, job or occupation or whatever, you know, IT manager, you know, marketing manager, whatever.

And then using that information. on your registration, uh, data to cleverly create positive interactions between those segments of people, you know? So, and another thing that we've talked about with Hoppin that I, that I still really like is that what everyone calls speed dating, where you can If you choose to participate in it, you can, you can just do this round robin with meeting people for a set limited amount of time.

You can define that based on those ticket types, or again, to your point, eventually based on AI driven metrics that the platform is sniffing out. That is pretty interesting. Absolutely. And I think it's a great idea because it, again. Just helps to make that, uh, event more memorable and more meaningful. I think it goes all the way back to what, uh, even I mentioned a while ago, which is that the value of the content, the value of what is in it for me as an attendee is what That's, that's the tail that wags the dog all the way across the board and finding ways to do that.

These are great examples of it.

[00:36:05] Roger Courville, CSP: So if you are still listening with us, uh, and you go to, uh, virtualvenues. com and look at our blog or look back through there or use the search function on our website, one of these thought leader conversations that That, uh, we've done in the recent few months was with one of our program managers, Danica McIntyre, and she and I talked at length about this.

I hate the speed dating speed networking thing, but that's what it is, right? It is a really cool thing because it is so different than the typical webinar kind of experience, right? It create it adds a peer to peer connection that is missing in a lot of broadcast kinds of virtual events. Which aren't wrong, but it adds that dimension that is often missing when we think of what an event is.

Right, right. Exactly. In a, in a, in a person sense. So anyway, go find that one with Danica McIntyre and, and it's, it's, the word Hopin's in the title, easy to find. Talk to me about StreamYard, because Hopin... Yeah. Purchased StreamYard, then kept StreamYard, and that has probably other implications too. Talk to us about streaming stuff.


[00:37:18] Aaron Cole: that's another kind of asterisk in, in my book when I'm looking at this and what's, what we've been watching. So you're, you're exactly correct. StreamYard was a startup company that Hoppin acquired. Two years ago, three years ago. I don't remember. Um, and they very actively, if you let me back up, if you're not familiar with StreamYard, it is essentially like a virtual mixing platform where similar to what we're doing here today, where you can do lower thirds, you can do backgrounds, you can do picture and picture kind of things.

Uh, it's use case is for, uh, you, if you don't have necessarily a, uh, You know, a full fledged professional production background, but just need a way to have it look good and have that, you know, be something that you can then stream to YouTube or whatever. Hopin acquired that and, and the first thing that they did was, was to build out an integration so that that directly goes into a Hopin main stage and now a sessions environment, which was smart because the out of the box tools that Hopin has If you're just gonna run an event and, and hop in events, um, I think it's safe to say that fairly quickly from a production standpoint.

You're, you're kind of, you're out of tricks to use, so to speak, and you are kind of fairly limited with what's available to you. So that was always something that made a lot of sense without partnership. To your point, that wasn't a part of. went over to RingCentral. It does look to me that at least on some level, Hoppin has developed or, or reused some of the code base from, uh, StreamYard so that they are in the process right now of rolling out a Hoppin type studio that has some of that functionality.

But I do think that's an area of interest and something that, that we as professionals are, are pretty interested in because StreamYard Is a good tool and StreamYard where they were going as a developed platform. If that was in lock stack lock step with Hoppin, um, I think you would continue to see those benefits, mutually beneficial benefits across both platforms.

And that's, that's not going to be here anymore. And so I am interested to kind of watch and see where Hoppin goes. And I think it's completely possible that RingCentral might not provide the same emphasis on. Quality production in that that ability to produce things at that higher functionality that StreamYard is currently doing or will be doing in the future.

[00:39:53] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, well, in part because of the and I think some of this I'm going to put a really big big asterisk on this because I think it. Some of this remains to be seen, but we know who RingCentral is, right? RingCentral, I don't know where they're at in 2023, but in, you know, they had more than two billion dollars in revenue in, uh, in 2022, right?

Which is why them spending 15 million bucks to buy the web or the Hopin events platform is, is, is non, not even negligible. Right. Yeah. Words of their CFO and and provide some really interesting stuff. But to the point that you just made, if you like that little higher touch and know what might it like be like to for me to be able to fly in another image or use these lower thirds or, or that kind of stuff, um, that very well could remain the kind of thing where StreamYard and or, you know, and they're still part of Hopin and they've had a much more, say, for instance, focus on like agencies and production and that higher touch kind of stuff.

Um, it'll be interesting to see where they take that and that sometimes to me, it's some of those little details that help us distinguish what platform might be best for you. When it's ly going, Hey, what platform is best for your event? Yeah, okay, great. You use Zoom for everyday meetings, that's great, but that doesn't mean that's what you necessarily should use for your upcoming user conference or your upcoming new, right?

You know, one week of new employee onboarding that's global or whatever program you've got going. And I think it'll be interesting to see. um, to where those go. And I'm, I think it's fortunate for us that we can, um, that we can work with clients and just say, Hey, it doesn't make any difference which one has which you don't have to choose.

We'll help you figure out the right one. And I love that. I love

[00:42:00] Aaron Cole: being able

[00:42:01] Roger Courville, CSP: to do that technology. And Hey, if six months from now on your next one. We need a different technology. We'll use that then,

[00:42:08] Aaron Cole: right? Exactly. I love being able to do that. That I think is one of the, one of the things I'm most proud about.

If I can get on my soapbox, uh, the V2 soapbox. Um, I, I love having that ability to be able to, to diagnose exactly what it is that we're trying to accomplish or we need to accomplish. And then finding the right solution based on feature sets and abilities. not on licensing agreements. I'll put it that way.

You know, I think it's a great, it's a great value. I'll leave it at that. Yeah.

[00:42:41] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, um, I know that is sometime in the next couple of weeks, we will talk separately about, uh, things that we've seen more broadly in the industry, you know, 12, 18 months and where we think things are going to be going in 2020.

And so if you're still listening to this, we certainly appreciate your attention and we'll keep an eye out for that. Yeah. Any other questions I should have asked you relative to Ring Central Hop In and this, this thing that I haven't asked you?

[00:43:09] Aaron Cole: No, I, I, I think we're good. I, I, I just can't help but, but kind of marvel at how interesting of an industry we're in, you know, and, um, This is one to watch for sure, you know, this is one again where it's like what's below the surface is probably going to be way more important and interesting than, than the little bit is, that's what's above and, uh, we're going to watch and see, you know, as a, as a, as a user of Hopin, as a user of StreamYard, now as a user of RingCentral and all the other systems that we work on, it's our job to watch this and it's obviously something that we're taking a wait and see approach on and we'll just, We'll just go with it.

So, um, I can't think of anything else, Roger, but, but to your point about us meeting later on here, I'm excited about that conversation too, because it's been a crazy year and this is just one. One element of

[00:44:02] Roger Courville, CSP: it. Yeah, and maybe I'll, I'll close. My final comment will be this and maybe just using a verbal illustration to put an exclamation point on something that you described a little earlier.

Um, you know, broadly speaking, a lot of in companies, including like, you know, zoom and, and, and Microsoft, they're broadly going after unified communications because that's where all of the daily meetings happen all over and over and over, right? I need it. Collaboration via teams, and then I need basic video meetings that I'm doing day in and day out.

And then, but you think about the logarithmic curve, that's the volume of meetings. And a whole lot fewer of those meetings, like 1 percent of them have scale that have a whole different set of requirements because it's a company Ohioans meeting where it's a, it's part of my marketing series that operates very differently than my day to day, right?

You know, from meetings or, or, or that kind of thing. And to me, if there is, Um, if there is something to keep an eye out for, it is where and how do the UC driven companies, Unified Communications driven companies, begin to not serve events because inevitably one of them is a very much a horizontal play.

Oh, we're integrating meetings with events with instant messaging with, uh, asynchronous collaboration via, you know, SharePoint or, you know, tool, tool chat, you know, chat tools and stuff like that. And that's a horizontal integration as opposed to events, which are very much a vertical thing because there's a life cycle.

Right. I have to start working with you a year in advance or three months in advance. And then there's registration and there's a whole bunch of things that don't exist in our typical day, daily meetings. And then there's what do we do with all those assets and all of the, how that happens after the fact, right?

So that three in three day event. has its own life cycle, but it's its own distinct thing that is so different than our typical day to day collaboration. And GoTo is moving in the direction of, of, of unified communications. You want to know where Zoom's going? There we go. Where has Microsoft, Microsoft's been leading this in a crazy way that nobody's acknowledged because, and this is a several, several year old statistic, but Skype, this was five, six years ago.

Skype had one third of the audio minutes in the whole world, right? The largest phone company in the world was Skype. And everybody went, why is Microsoft doing? Uh huh.

[00:46:36] Aaron Cole: There's why right there. So,

[00:46:39] Roger Courville, CSP: and that's not wrong. Microsoft And I accepted to say that, you know, because Aaron and I both worked at Microsoft, except to say that's their broad horizontal play.

But what does Microsoft not do well? Right. Virtual events. Right. And so there's something to keep an eye on just because you've got a platform that, um, it functions as a telco. That doesn't necessarily mean they do events well. That doesn't mean they can't help you have 10, 000 connections, but that's different than doing great virtual event.


[00:47:12] Aaron Cole: right. You know what? And one thing just, just I know we're closing up here, but, um, kudos to RingCentral for realizing that they even needed this within a whole UI type of environment, you know, because again, that's where they're going. They realized they needed this as, as an element of that toolkit.

And so at the very top level, I'm, I'm willing to say, Thank you. Kudos. Good job for that. Because, you know, we're, we're of the same feeling that that is an essential, even if it's a seldomly used comparatively to the millions of meetings that are happening, you know, on that collaborative basis, this is the one that everyone talks about, because your CEO is on the call, your CEO is making company wide announcements on your job status or, or whatever it is, you know, If something goes wrong, this is the one that everyone's going to talk about.

Not your weekly, you know, collaborative meeting on marketing sessions or whatever it happens to be. So, even though it's relatively small, it's hugely important. And I would be remiss not to give credit to RingCentral for understanding that and moving towards it.

[00:48:20] Roger Courville, CSP: That is a killer place to close. You're exactly right.

Ring Central has done a lot of things right over the years, and this very well could just be a total coup relative to scooping up hop in events for 15 million bucks. Fire and sell, fire and sell. With that, we're glad that each and every one of you kind of hung out with us for a little bit. If you've got questions or thoughts, I mean, please shoot them in or depending on where you're watching this, drop them into, you know, into our, you know, the comments on the YouTube channel or just send Aaron a note, Aaron at virtualvenues.

com or, or me and, and we'd be happy. to to dialogue with you. And if you disagree, I mean, heck, we'll have you on the show. I mean, let me know. We'll put you on camera and because here's the thing. One of the ways that we win that we believe in virtual venues that we all win is that we all win together.

Virtual events is its own unique little family and it tends to be a small, gets to be a small world after a bit. And, and I promise you that, that one of the things that you'll find that it's just part of the ethos of virtual venues is that we want to help you succeed, even if you don't ever give us a dime.

And, uh, we know, we just trust in a big, broad, universal sense that, that that comes back to us. And we've been really blessed to do what we do. And we're really honored to serve who we serve. And we'll be interested to see where Ring Central takes this because they've made some good moves.

[00:49:50] Aaron Cole: Agreed. Thank you for your time,

[00:49:51] Roger Courville, CSP: Roger.

Thanks to each and every one of you. And we'll catch you on the next episode of Thought Leader Conversations.


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