The meetings management software companies Aventri and MeetingPlay have merged, and will gradually integrate in the coming months to form one company. A new name for the rebranding hasn't been chosen.
The combined companies received a growth equity investment from Sunstone Partners — the firm behind MeetingPlay's $75 million windfall funding round in June 2021 — and Camden Partners, a more recent investor. The amount of the new investment hasn't been disclosed. Both firms name MeetingPlay among their portfolio investments.
Eric Lochner, a 25-year veteran in the technology industry, has been named CEO of the new company. Lochner has a track record of building tech companies and managing mergers and acquisitions.
“We are excited to bring these two inventive companies together to create a new cutting-edge experience for the meetings and events industry,” said Lochner. “We have a strong opportunity to deepen the process of hosting in-person, hybrid and virtual events and are excited to be able to better support meeting planners and event organizers, while offering a wider range of products and experiences.”
MeetingPlay, which was founded in 2011 by former CEO Joe Schwinger and former COO Lisa Vann, experienced phenomenal, 500 percent year-over-year growth as a result of the pandemic. The company initially debuted as an innovative mobile app for which Schwinger recognized a market need while he was working at Marriott. The app fused mobile tech with gamification and a strong connection to on-property experiences. While Marriott's support gave MeetingPlay a strong start in the event mobile app space, it was MeetingPlay's quick transition to virtual experiences that accounted for the company's astronomical pandemic-era success.
Schwinger and Vann will remain with the new company and take on executive roles. Former Aventri CEO Jim Sharpe, who took over the top post at Aventri in early 2020, will remain a shareholder and advisor to the new company. The companies declined to discuss the future plans of other Aventri execs.
Aventri, which was founded in 2008 as etouches, has long touted the benefits of an end-to-end meetings management solution and has gradually added more features and functionality to respond to market needs. Among its more recent developments were major updates to its own virtual-event platform and hybrid-event functionality that promised streamlined transitions from one format to another and tightly integrated data for both in-person and remote audiences.
Together the companies provide an incredibly wide range of meetings management, on-site and virtual event features, with many of those technologies overlapping. Features include a laundry list of event-tech functions, from sourcing to registration to check-in and badging, marketing, AI-assisted networking, mobile apps, virtual platforms and much more. The companies have powered a combined total of more than 50,000 events, and serviced more than 10,000 clients and 7 million attendees. Marriott, PepsiCo, Facebook and Informa are among the companies on the combined client list.
The combined company didn't provide further integration details at this time, but with such a wide array of meetings tech functionality the process will no doubt take time and present significant challenges. As MeetingPlay has garnered such major investments over the past year, it will be interesting to watch which Aventri-branded products continue to be supported over the long term.