LinkedIn invests in Hopin, betting on post-pandemic remote events
Hopin CEO Johnny Boufarhat.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined his plans in March for a hybrid future of work. Now, his company’s LinkedIn division is betting that people will continue to meet online even after offices reopen.
Virtual conferencing technology company Hopin, which was valued at $ 5.65 billion in a $ 400 million fundraising round in March, has just added LinkedIn to its list of investors. The company told CNBC that LinkedIn invested in that same valuation, buying shares from existing stakeholders. The investment was less than $ 50 million, according to two people familiar with the terms of the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information.
“Virtual events are here to stay,” Scott Roberts, LinkedIn vice president of business development, said in a statement. “We recognize that our clients use many platforms, so we want to make it easy for them to extend the reach of their live events on LinkedIn.”
Hopin CEO Johnny Boufarhat said the companies would collaborate in ways that bring “immersive experiences” to users of both services. With 756 million members, LinkedIn is nearly ubiquitous among workers in industries such as tech, finance, consulting, and consumer products, creating an easy place for Hopin to potentially connect large swaths of people. Boufarhat said more details will be available soon.
For LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired for $ 27 billion in 2016, the investment is aligned with the view of much of the tech industry that the return to work will be very different from the world before it. pandemic. Remote recruiting is skyrocketing, offices consolidate, and five-day trips to the office are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC on Monday that he expects 50% to 60% of employees to continue working from home. Nadella told Microsoft employees in October that the company would allow more flexible working hours. In a March LinkedIn post titled “The Hybrid Work Paradox,” Nadella said employees wanted options for working remotely while having more in-person collaboration.
“Hybrid work represents the biggest change in the way we work in our generation,” Nadella wrote. “And that will require a new operating model, covering people, places and processes.”
Hopin thrived during the pandemic
Hopin was in the right place at the right time when the pandemic hit. The company was formed just two years ago in London and found itself quickly onboarding users last year as live conferences were canceled and organizers searched for a quick fix to go virtual.
Hopin’s software allows conference hosts to mimic the experience of physical events, with tools for virtual chats and sidebars for networking. It recently acquired video streaming service StreamYard and mobile app development company Topi, and launched its own mobile app in February.
The company also rushed to fill its coffers, raising $ 40 million last June and $ 125 million in November, ahead of the $ 400 million it raised earlier this year. Its employee base has grown from six at the start of 2020 to 550 today. More than 95,000 organizations now use the software and millions of people attend virtual events each month, the company said.
LinkedIn has actively invested in software, supporting at least three other startups this year, according to PitchBook. Most recently, LinkedIn was part of an $ 88 million fundraiser in analytics startup Piano in May.
The company’s most notable investment came in 2014, two years before its acquisition by Microsoft. It was at this point that the developers of the open source software Apache Kafka left LinkedIn to create a company called Confluent. LinkedIn invested about $ 500,000 in a $ 6.9 million investment, which valued Confluent at $ 24 million.
Confluent is now on the cusp of going public with more than $ 300 million in annualized revenue, according to its prospectus filed last week, and a valuation that hit $ 4.5 billion last year.
– CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this report.
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