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Cvent: A Turnound Story Looking for an IPO

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 6th 2013

According to the Trade Show and Conference Planning Market Research report by IBIS World, despite continuing pressure on margins, organizations are spending more on organizing marketing events and conferences. Within the U.S., the industry was estimated to grow 3% over the year to $13 billion in 2012.

Cvent’s Offerings

Cvent was founded in 1999 by founder Reggie Aggarwal to provide event management software solutions to organizations and individuals. Today, Cvent is the largest event management software provider in the U.S. The company offers event management services for online registration, payment processing, and email marketing. Cvent’s web surveys solution helps organizations and marketing professionals organize web-based surveys. It also give organizations access to a supplier network where customers can find and book venues online.

Cvent employs more than 1,100 people worldwide. Their tools have helped manage 750,000 events and surveys, and their services have been used to send out more than two billion email invitations resulting in more than 30 million event registrations and survey responses. Their client list of more than 10,000 organizations includes names like Toshiba, Deloitte & Touche, the United States Air Force Academy, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Boston Scientific, to name a few.

For event management services, Cvent charges customers a set-up fee and a price per registrant. Analysts estimate that during the first half of the previous year, Cvent helped companies book $3.4 billion worth of meetings. Cvent expects that number to grow to $9 billion this year. Analysts estimate Cvent’s annual revenues to be more than $100 million. As of 2012, Cvent had recorded more than three years of profitable operations.

Cvent may have been in existence since 1999, but the company faced severe conditions during the dot-com bust. They were forced to cut more than 80% of their workforce and nearly went bankrupt. However, they managed to survive the tough times and are now rumored to be looking at an IPO. They recently hired Pete Childs to the position of their CFO. Childs has helped in IPOs of other smaller firms. In 2011, Cvent received $136 million venture funding from New Enterprise Associates and Insight Venture Partners.

Cvent’s Mobile Growth

Cvent has kept pace with times and are now focusing on mobile expansion. Last year, Cvent also acquired smaller organizations focused on the mobile technology. Last summer, they acquired Austin-based mobile event apps maker Seed Labs for an estimated $4.2 million. Seed Labs is known for their mobile apps for major platforms, including iOS, Android, and BlackBerry, for entertainment events.

Last year, they also acquired Portland-based event management app developer CrowdCompass for $10 million. CrowdCompass has similar apps as Seed Labs, but with a focus on conferences. CrowdCompass lets users create customized mobile apps that integrate schedules, maps, exhibitor listings, sponsorship opportunities, QR code scanning, messaging, and social networking. Cvent has leveraged the acquisitions to release mobile apps that are focused on both businesses and consumers, helping them manage these events in a simpler way.

Cvent’s Product Enhancement

Cvent’s resurrection from its near bankruptcy to earn revenues of more than $100 million annually is a story to admire. The company has managed to do this by constantly improving their software solutions. Recently, they added new features to their existing offerings. They opened mobile access to the Cvent Supplier Network so that planners and suppliers can work on their meetings on the go. As part of their survey tool enhancement, they now let hotels opt for integration of web surveys with TripAdvisor so that post-stay survey data can be collected and published to that site. As part of resource management enhancement, event planners can now track and schedule resources, including meeting speakers; logistics, such as meeting rooms and collateral; and equipment, such as projectors and computers. The attendee registration process has also been streamlined by making it available in real time.

Cvent is not the only player in the event management software segment wanting to enter the IPO market. Evenbrite is another such player which was expected to file for an IPO last year. Eventbrite sells tickets for events, including conferences, entertainment events, and marathons. Last year, they reported gross ticket sales of $600 million, growing by $240 million in a year. The company is estimated to operate at annual revenues of $50 million and with a 10x multiple, should have a valuation of $500 million. Their IPO plans may have been delayed due to the IPO market’s poor performance last year, but analysts are hopeful that Eventbrite will release their own IPO this year.

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