Meetings management titan Cvent announced in July that it planned to
go public during 4Q 2021 via a merger with special purpose acquisition
company Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II. Cvent should be listed
on the Nasdaq exchange the morning of 9 December, founder and CEO Reggie
Aggarwal told Business Travel News in this exclusive interview.
Cvent, founded in 1999, was public once before but Vista Equity
Partners took it private in 2016 when it bought the company for US$1.65
billion. Now, with the SPAC, other companies can invest in Cvent at
US$10 per share — a figure that values the company at US$5.3 billion and
could provide about US$800 million in cash. Among those investors are
Fidelity Management & Research Co., Hedosophia, Oaktree Capital
Management and virtual conferencing giant Zoom Video Communications.
Aggarwal talked about the benefits his company will realise by going
public again, and how the move demonstrates investor confidence in the
industry and the return of meetings. The conversation has been edited
for length and clarity.
Why go public again, and why now?
We went private with Vista Equity Partners, and it's given us a chance
to really invest in the platform. We built a new platform, and then
added our virtual [functionality] on top. Now the market is at an
inflection point. There's been a huge shift, obviously, in our industry,
and I think when you go public, you create a big brand value from a
global view. People tend to know you more and to feel more comfortable
to do business with public companies because you have transparency in
your financials and in your stability.
So, one, from a branding view, it really helps with your customers
and your potential customers because they know you as a more solid
company. Number two is that the capital raising will help fund a lot of
our continued growth. We're potentially raising US$800 million, and
we've got some great tier-one investors, including Zoom. And then it
gives transparency to your employees. They get stock in a public
company, which is very different than having it in a private company.
Talk more about the industry being at an inflection point.
you look at next year, we have confidence that in-person and hybrid
events will become more important. 2020 and 2021 were about virtual.
2022 is going to be about hybrid, which means hybrid, in-person and
virtual. So we get perfect timing. Over the last 18 months, there was a
big shift. We were able to get back on a steady state, and then we were
able to make sure we launched our virtual product. We saw quick
success—within 12 months of launching our platform, we had sold US$266
million in virtual-related sales. Now we believe it's in a very good
position, and we believe it's a market leader just in itself. And then
we're moving from everything [being] virtual, virtual, virtual, back to
hybrid, which includes virtual, but it also includes in-person.
Forced digitisation is what happened with the pandemic. We quote the
 McKinsey & Co. study that basically said the equivalent of
five years of digitisation [happened] in just a few months. Again,
that's all part of the inflection point. It's the industry shift, in
terms of just going to hybrid, and then the inflection is also
Not just virtual digitisation, but measurement too, correct?
Cvent Connect, our hybrid customer conference in August], we collected
750,000 data points. You might have filled out a survey beforehand. We
saw on mobile you were checking out this session, or you went to this
event or commented on [something]. We got to collect [those points]
in-person as well as virtually. Then you get to take that with you.
That's why we think one system of record, one platform — whether it's
in-person, virtual or hybrid — you gather the data, and then you feed
that data into the CRM and marketing automation so it activates the
sales and marketing team. It's a really viable way to build those
relationships. We're able to know you and know a lot about you because
you spent two or three days there.
People are going to use digitisation to leverage the network better,
to find the right people that make it worthwhile for you to go [to an
What lessons did you learn from being a public company
previously that will influence your decisions this time? What might you
When you're public, you have to make sure
you run your operations pretty tight, because you have to predict your
business. There's a culture called "beat and raise," and when we were
public, for all 11 quarters we beat and raised the numbers, which means
we grew better than what we said every time. When you're public, you
want to build a good relationship with [Wall] Street, and you do that by
Number two, there's a lot of things you have to do to prepare to go
public. We had a lot of those processes in place — the financial
discipline, the systems discipline. We felt really comfortable about
that to make sure we had those things in place. Candidly, it's working
with the Street, and it's making sure you have a tight operation. Those
are the two biggest lessons you learn in the process.
What does it mean for the business? How will you operate differently?
no real difference. What [going public] does is it creates more
transparency with your customer. That's one benefit. The second is,
we're raising more money, and with that money, we can invest more. Cvent
can be in a better financial position. … And we're hiring more people,
we're growing pretty substantially, including hiring more engineers and
client services. This is going to help fuel that, because a lot of
companies are capital-constrained. They get the business, but then they
can't hire the client service to support it because they don't have the
capital. We have the capital. Now that we have it, especially when we go
public, we're going to forward invest. If I'm a customer, that's good.
You're not worried that Cvent isn't going to keep up with the times and
the R&D and the support.
What size is the Cvent workforce now? What are your plans for future growth?
about 4,000 people now, globally, full-time employees. We're
aggressively hiring more engineers so we can continue to be innovators
and invest in our products and our platform. The other area that we're
growing quite a bit is our client service team, to make sure that we're
there, because some of this stuff is still new to [customers], like
We like to say that the marketer and event planner is becoming like a
producer now, because especially if they do the virtual stuff, now
they're going to be doing in-person and hybrid. But they have to have
the skills. We call it the triple threat. They have to be able to do all
three, and we're giving them tools to do that. And they need more
training to do it, because it's still new to them. Because as people
start doing hybrids, like we did our first hybrid event in August, we
learned a lot. It takes time to learn it. And we're there to make sure
that we partner with our customers and make sure that we see them
Do you have any concrete investments or innovations to share?
recently launched our Cvent Studio tool. Imagine you can create more
like a CNN or CNBC type of broadcast with your personal laptop rather
than in a multimillion-dollar production studio. The meeting planner's
or the marketer's personal laptops can start producing broadcast-quality
[events] with engagement tools around it. Because what's happening is,
events and video are converging. And when you think about it, let's say
you do a training. People don't look at that as an event, but it's an
event, right? You gather a bunch of people, you're doing content. The
marketer or the event planner can get more involved to make that more
You've placed your bet on hybrid. Is your outlook the same for hybrid vs. in-person vs. virtual as it was this past summer?
the Delta variant, the whole industry took a little bit of a step back …
in Q3. We still started seeing people accelerate, and we're starting to
see them have more confidence in next year. And they're buying more of
our in-person and hybrid products than they have since the pandemic
started. The Delta variant definitely had a negative impact to the
industry. But it actually continues to make people very dependent on
technology, [and] maybe the balance [now] is more virtual than
in-person. But it doesn't matter because every quarter out, I think that
it'll start flipping. You'll start getting more people coming in
person. And whatever that balance is, net-net, the event industry's
going to be stronger, because you'll have more participants.
Just like Cvent Connect this past August: We had more participants
than we've ever had before, even though it was a blend of in-person and
virtual. Then as things get better, you'll get more balance toward
in-person. But overall, the total headcount is stronger. And when you
have more engagement from a larger group of people, usually the
organisation puts more money in events and realises the importance of
it, and that's good for our industry.
If you don't see hybrid develop the way you anticipate, how will that affect the company?
reality is that just won't happen. Sure, there will be some events that
go just in-person. But if you have a reasonable-sized programme [with] a
reasonable amount of events, you're going to have to do all three. Let
me tell you why virtual is important: If you do an in-person midsize
event, if I go to that event and there are three breakouts at the same
time, I can only go to one. I'd want to see the virtual content for the
other ones. … The reality is, it's going to be all three [types of
events], and we're prepared for all three.
How is the small, simple meetings self-service product coming along?
just launching it. It's not complete, but we're starting to test the
water. We think that's going to be a product that a lot of planners want
because when you book, say, a 12-person board dinner or a board
meeting, … you can just do it more easily than through a
[request-for-proposals] process. We think planners will find that
compelling, and we're getting a lot of good support. It's just the
beginning. This is a project that will take a little bit of time.
What does going public mean for the meetings industry overall?
believe [Cvent is] one of those bellwether companies. We're
meeting-centric; it's our core business. With us going public, it's
inspiring the rest of the industry: "Hey, Cvent's getting warm reception
from Wall Street, and that bodes well for the industry and that things
are starting to return."
Now, of course, it could be virtual, which is part of the driver.
It's not necessarily all in-person. But I still think that the meetings
industry in general will benefit, because we're educating the industry.
Like when it comes to educating Wall Street, people who control tens of
trillions of dollars of capital: The people that are hearing our story,
collectively, we're telling them how big the industry is ... It's a
trillion-dollar industry. We're telling them how, from a [return on
investment] perspective, if you're a B2B company and the CMO spends a
quarter of their marketing budget on meetings and events, it's an
important thing. And they're realizing how important it is, especially
with the pandemic.
When we went public in 2013, no one hardly heard of the meetings
industry. What they thought about it was the big trade show companies.
That was their lens, and as we all know, the trade shows are just a very
small component of that trillion. It's the small meeting, midsize,
large, internal, external — people wouldn't realize how big the industry
is. I think that we're out there championing the industry, and I think
that's good for everybody.
Source: Business Travel News