Cvent is working methodically to expand its offerings in the small meeting space by acquiring Kapow and now Social Tables. Social Tables found success streamlining obvious pain points for planners, which is something Cvent can learn from.
Consolidation has been a constant in the event technology sector, as large players have worked to shore up their platforms with smaller competitors offering a diverse variety of services.
Event technology giant Cvent on Tuesday announced it bought Social Tables, the Washington, D.C.-based event technology platform founded by Dan Berger in 2011. The value of the transaction was not disclosed, but pegged by Washington Business Journal as more than $100 million.
[Update: Skift has come to understand the particulars of the deal as described in the Washington Business Journal are accurate. Previous reporting on the potential size and structure of the deal has been removed.]
Social Tables has raised $22.5 million in funding since its inception, according to Crunchbase, most recently a $13 million Series B round led by QuestMark Partners in October 2016. The company offers a web-based platform for event planners that helps them easily deal with seating charts, registration, sourcing venues, and marketing.
Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal told Skift that he had long admired Social Tables, partnering with them at times and watching the company grow over the course of the decade. Social Tables’ core product, which allows event planners to determine and alter seating arrangements on a map of a meeting space’s actual dimensions, was an extremely attractive addition to the Cvent platform.
He stressed that Social Tables’ 4.5 million events planned so far shows the power of its technology in an extremely crowded space.
“We’ve used their software ourselves as a client, and they’re a really entrepreneurial and innovative company,” said Aggarwal. “It automates a process that is very painful. The best diligence you can do is be the customer. They really help bring the planners and hoteliers together in a collaborative environment. They’ve done 4.5 million meetings and have 4 billion square-feet of meeting space they have documented so you can configure it. So when you think about their scale, and how fast they’ve done it, I don’t think anyone in the space has done 4.5 million meetings that quickly.”
Cvent has been on a spending spree lately, merging with competitor Lanyon in 2016 and most recently acquiring small venue booking platform Kapow last June. Word is that the Lanyon integration has been challenging for Lanyon’s existing customers and that Kapow was slightly troubled before being picked up.
“From an acquisition perspective, what we love is that the hotels love it and they’re having planners use it,” said Aggarwal. “Our customers are going to be much happier than the ones who don’t have Social Tables. Now we can invest in it to grow it faster, and with more distribution have more research and development, which is what I think got [Berger] excited.”
The plan is for Social Tables to continue on as a business unit inside Cvent, with Berger becoming general manager of the unit and the company’s 110 employees joining Cvent from their current office. In addition to working with Cvent, Social Tables also powers Hyatt’s meetings booking engine and works with InterContinental Hotels Group among other hotel chains.
“We can level up in so many ways,” said Berger. “We don’t have to worry about staffing up anymore, choosing between a dev ops person or someone else… we were always talking about ways to partner and integrate [with Cvent], and this time the stars were aligned. Our brand has a cult following and I’m super proud of that.”
Speaking to Skift earlier this year, Social Tables’ Berger said collaboration between venues and planners, mediated through technology, will come to define the industry going forward.
“An event has so many layers, so many intricacies, so many complexities, and so many stakeholders that it’s very amenable to sharing and collaboration and permissioning and all those things that we take for granted,” said Berger. “So I think collaboration is huge, especially from the supplier side. Whether it’s handing off a proposal or passing an event from one team to another, or inviting the different vendors as a client. Because there’s just so many people touching the meeting and event. That’s a big thing that’s not going anywhere and will only get better.”
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Photo credit: The Social Tables offices in Washington, D.C. Social Tables