At the start of March, Zoom announced a substantial drop in its planned income for 2022. Around the same time, the value of stocks of Zoom, the pioneer of event digitalisation, plummeted by 13%. The company is facing unfavourable predictions for the first time.
Zoom was uncovered by both investors and users alike in 2020. At its peak, the value of Zoom was $569,34 per share (October 2020). In 2020, the company increased its revenue by 326%, amounting to $2,65 billion.
On April 10, the worth of Zoom’s stock was $111.83. It even dipped below $100 in early March. What does this signal for the entire digital events industry propelled by Zoom’s success story?
First and foremost, it is crucial to emphasise that we are witnessing normalisation rather than a momentous trend. The zoomification that peaked during the corona crisis was an extraordinary moment that Zoom made the best of. In any case, the company is still profitable, given that the income far exceeds the company’s expenses. Above all, the trend is indicative of the normalisation of Zoom’s business. Likewise, the wave of investors bewildered by the dizzying numbers at the start of the corona crisis is dwindling.
Providers of video conferencing platforms have become aware their income will undoubtedly decrease. Not a day goes by without seeing yet another offer in my inbox for videoconferencing systems that will apparently solve all of my problems concerning event organising. When analysing the number of various solutions, we counted well over 200 providers. The top five, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Go To Meeting, Cisco Webex and Google Meet, have solidified their places as the leading platforms. As it seems, they have no intention of being taken over.
All platforms are currently in the reorganisation phase, searching for models that will foster sustainable growth. A period of reckless investments in start-ups, into whom venture capital funds invested most, is thus coming to an end. According to some data, almost one billion $ of venture capital was invested solely in Hopin.
Unprepared for the world after COVID
Numerous video conferencing companies are unprepared for a post-COVID world because they were blinded by the demand during the crisis. Moreover, many of them did not cater to the needs of the pivotal focus group, represented by the global community of event organisers. Blinded in their futile search for Zoom’s holy grail were those who invested without common sense.
I advise all providers of videoconferencing tools to take a deep dive into the needs of event organisers. The herd instinct and trusting your gut feelings won’t cut it. That has been reflected in the situation in the stock market. It is worth considering how event organisers can be supported in the renaissance of live events. In my opinion, mobile apps will make a triumphant return. Either way, event organisers predominantly search for tools that holistically support communication with attendees in all phases of the project cycle.
We tend to say that in-person events incorporate all our senses. Digital and virtual events, conversely, most often include only sight and hearing. Choosing a format largely depends on whether a client prefers real-life or augmented reality. After the corona crisis, we seem to have our hands full with hybrid and live events, which is indicative of the path we plan on taking in the future.
More and more of us agree that nothing can replace the authentic interpersonal relationship we create face to face. Technology can never satisfy us to the same extent, even though the offer we see appears perfect. The problem is that we are raising people, coworkers or colleagues that will find social interaction burdening and will rather avoid them. Do you wish to have such coworkers in your company? We should strive for more authentic vis-a-vis contacts instead of wasting hours and hours at virtual events. A good compromise between online and live seems the most realistic option at the minute. Tech giants should recognise that and seize the opportunity.
2022 will be a groundbreaking year for this segment of the meetings industry. I do not doubt that the meetings industry will, in the end, come out of this process unscathed, stronger, and most importantly, more responsible toward the environment and participants.
Editorial by Gorazd Čad