LinkedIn invests in Hopin, betting on remote post-pandemic events

Johnny Boufarhat, CEO of Hopin.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out his plans in March for a hybrid workplace future. 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 funding round in March, just added LinkedIn to its investor list. The company told CNBC that LinkedIn invested with the 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’s 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 will collaborate in ways that provide “immersive experiences” to users of both services. With 756 million members, LinkedIn is nearly ubiquitous among workers in industries like technology, finance, consulting, and consumer products, creating an easy place for Hopin to potentially connect broad swaths of people. Boufarhat said more details will be forthcoming.

For LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired for $ 27 billion in 2016, the investment is aligned with a view across much of the tech industry that going back to work will be very different from the pre-pandemic world. Remote recruiting is skyrocketing, offices are consolidating, and the daily five-day commute to the office is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC on Monday that he expects 50-60% of employees to continue working from home. Nadella told Microsoft employees in October that the company will allow more flexible work hours. In a LinkedIn post in March titled “The Hybrid Work Paradox,” Nadella said employees want options to work remotely while also having more in-person collaboration.

“Hybrid work represents the biggest change in the way we work in our generation,” Nadella wrote. “And it will require a new operating model, one that encompasses people, places and processes.”

Hopin thrived on the pandemic

Hopin was in the right place at the right time when the pandemic hit. The company was created just two years ago in London and found itself onboarding users quickly last year when live lectures were canceled and organizers searched for a quick fix to go virtual.

Hopin software enables conference hosts to mimic the physical event experience, with virtual chat tools and networking sidebars. It recently acquired streaming video service StreamYard and mobile app development company Topi, and launched its own mobile app in February.

The company was also quick to fill its coffers, raising $ 40 million last June and $ 125 million in November, before the $ 400 million it raised earlier this year. Its employee base has grown from six in early 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 been actively investing in software, supporting at least three other startups this year, according to PitchBook. Most recently, LinkedIn was part of an $ 88 million funding in the Piano analytics startup in May.

The company’s most notable investment came in 2014, two years before Microsoft acquired it. That’s when the developers of the open source software Apache Kafka emerged from LinkedIn and created a company called Confluent. LinkedIn invested around $ 500,000 as part of a $ 6.9 million investment, which valued Confluent at $ 24 million.

Confluent is now ready to go public with more than $ 300 million in annualized revenue, based on its prospectus presented last week, and a valuation that reached $ 4.5 billion last year.

– CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

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