Online event networking technology platform Twine is banking on Zoom being the virtual platform of choice for the foreseeable future — and Zoom is likewise banking on Twine by being among the investors in the company's latest round of funding.
Twine is publicizing the release of Twine for Zoom, an app now available from the Zoom App Marketplace. The app, "a supercharged version of Zoom Breakouts," as Twine CEO and cofounder Lawrence Coburn describes it, builds on the foundation of Zoom Breakout Rooms by adding functionality such as matchmaking, automatic rotation of participants through breakout rooms, and the concept of spatial "tables" that sit on top of the breakout rooms, adding a roundtable-discussion element to the sessions.
The app is currently available at no cost for events of 25 people or fewer to anyone with a Zoom account. Pricing beyond that depends on the size of the event. Additional integrations are being developed specifically for Zoom Events customers, which will make the app much more robust on Zoom's platform that is tailored for larger, more complex events.
In conjunction with the release, Twine announced new investments, not only from Zoom Ventures but also from Maven Ventures and PeopleTech Angels, along with additional funds from existing investors. Details of the financing weren't disclosed.
Twine's announcement comes amidst a climate of drastically reduced demand for virtual events and digital-event technology, the effects of which many event-tech companies have been suffering. Platforms such as Hopin and Bizzabo, both of which experienced otherworldly levels of growth during the height of the pandemic, have had to lay off significant chunks of their workforce in recent weeks.
Twine's Coburn is confident, however, that the need for virtual-engagement tools is and will remain strong — whether for virtual events or for smaller team meetings, professional training and new employee onboarding. "Fifty-five million Americans today are working fully remote, with many more millions working in a hybrid environment, and the move back to the office is slowing dramatically," he pointed out. "How we gather, how we connect, how we interact — these behaviors have fundamentally changed."
That said, Coburn does foresee the market shifting and consolidating, and he says finding the right partners is key. "We believe Zoom sits at the epicenter of these shifting behaviors," he noted. "Zoom Events is a relatively young product, but we believe it will win the virtual event tech market. Zoom is just too ubiquitous, and its tech is more scalable than anything out there."
That focus on Zoom is what led to Twine acquiring Glimpse earlier this year. Glimpse had early access to Zoom APIs and had been developing a product called Shuffle, which has since become the foundation for Twine for Zoom.
As the founder and previous CEO of event-tech company DoubleDutch, Coburn has first-hand experience with market shifts and consolidation. (DoubleDutch was eventually acquired by Cvent.) "As a former — and arguably present — event tech CEO," he noted, "my advice to other CEOs is that you better find a seam and specialize — be it in association events, marketing events, etc. — or partner with Zoom. Competing head-to-head will not end well. They're able to offer a better product, and a better rate."
Time will tell how Zoom weathers the current downturn in demand, but Coburn says the interest in Twine for Zoom has been strong since it quietly showed up in the Zoom App Marketplace a few weeks ago. Thus far it's most frequently being used for team-building among remote employees, networking for virtual events, higher-education meetings and as infrastructure for online communities.
"Nearly 5,000 organizations have installed the app already, in a very short period of time," Coburn said. "And we are seeing record usage every week."