Cvent has spent the last few years gobbling up innovative companies to round out its gigantic platform for planners, hotels, and corporations. DoubleDutch is yet another example of Cvent's aggressive approach to building its platform through acquisitions.
Cvent already offers two flavors of event apps for planners: the aging CrowdCompass and QuickMobile, which Cvent acquired in early 2018. Cvent often stipulates that clients use one of their event apps in order to receive access to the rest of Cvent’s suite of products, so offering a variety of apps makes sense to keep customers happy.
“DoubleDutch is, frankly, a great organization,” said Reggie Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Cvent. “They’ve invested a lot of money [in their products]. They raised quite a bit of capital so they’ve been able to build a lot of products and again build great talent. We’re always open to learning, and so we’re going to learn a lot from them. We had the same experience with QuickMobile, and that team has been pretty strong in sticking together.”
DoubleDutch, which was founded in 2011 by Lawrence Coburn and Pankaj Prasad, has raised at least $78.7 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Last year the company raised a Series F round from existing investors including KKR and Bessemer Venture Partners. The company boasted having positive cash flow last year, and if it was able to maintain this in 2019, the deal likely wasn’t cheap for Cvent.
Prasad left DoubleDutch in November 2017 to join Salesforce, and it is expected that Coburn will leave the company in the months after the acquisition is official, according to a source.
The company’s event app and management tools are geared toward giving organizations more visibility into their return on investment and provides tools for pre- and post-event engagement, which is becoming a major area of importance for planners. It also boasts a variety of large enterprise customers including SAP and Akamai.
“I got to know the product pretty well during our diligence time, and basically we’re going to be taking some of their features and certainly rounding out our platform and mobile app,” said Aggarwal. “I think that we will end up creating a superior experience for our customers because now we’re taking the best of frankly almost three different products. So they essentially do a lot of the same thing, but we’re evolving our product quite a bit with getting their teams involved with our product and getting their know-how. You’re going to see a superior offering in the mid- to long-term because of it.”
A deep question that plagues event planners is how to effectively engage attendees not just during an event itself, but before and after the event. Services like DoubleDutch help them continue to engage with attendees after an event, in hopes of getting to attend once again or do deals in the future.
Companies have increased marketing spend on meetings and events in recent years, so greater visibility into what they get in return for all that spending has taken on a newfound importance.
Cvent, which is owned by Vista Equity Partners, has made mergers and acquisitions a major part of its growth strategy since going private in late 2016. The biggest was a merger with major competitor Lanyon, which some say has helped to stifle innovation in the wider event technology space.
“If your customer feels increased value, then things tend to work out,” said Aggarwal. “This view is our M&A strategy. We’re going to continue to buy companies because we think that we can round out our platform and get more products for our customers. The second thing is it gets us into new markets.
“So if you look at Wedding Spot, that obviously got us into a new market, but it’s a very important market for our hotel customers because they wanted weekend business. They’re like ‘Hey, you help me Monday through Friday, pack me with corporate business, now how about giving me weekends?’ That’s a very large market for them. Or Social Tables, which we bought in November, that’s rounding out the platform [for planners]. Or Kapow [for corporations]. These are products that are giving clients more to experience, and we’re integrating them under one platform.”
Aggarwal maintains that despite the number of acquisitions he’s spearheaded, Cvent has spent only a small portion of its war chest on these companies. Cvent is still seeing strong organic growth, he said, and the companies he’s brought into the fold are more to build a better platform for its customers than prime the pump for growth.
Looking at the big picture, one has to wonder how long it will be until Vista Equity Partners readies Cvent to go public once again, or sells it off to another private equity group to recoup its $1.65 billion investment in the company. One source told Skift there are rumbles that Cvent is gearing up to go public again, although either an offering or sale is inevitable with the company controlled by private equity.
“You never know what will happen, right?” said Aggarwal when asked about another public offering. “We were public for I think 13 quarters. We enjoyed it, but it’s been nice to be private because we can focus a little bit more on the long-term. We’ve grown quite a bit, we’re now 4,000 employees. If you look at how big we were just three years ago, we were about 1,800. We’ve grown pretty substantially.”
Size matters, particularly in a sector as fragmented as event technology. Cvent’s acquisition of DoubleDutch will give its customers more choice and help set the stage for whatever comes next.
Photo credit: Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal on stage at the company's Cvent Connect conference. Cvent Connect / Twitter