ON24 files for an IPO
After a period of losses, ON24 catches the virtual event wave.
ON24, the digital experience platform with a focus on webinars and other virtual events, has filed for an initial public offering on the back of strong growth, especially in Q2 and Q3 of 2020. It plans to be listed on the NYSE as “ONTF.”
In an interview in September 2020, ON24 co-founder and President-CEO Sharat Sharan told us: “It’s not rocket science to realize that customer engagement has basically moved online. We’re all looking forward to physical events coming back, but the trend towards more online customer engagement has been accelerated, and that is going to continue. I don’t think it’s a reversible trend.”
ON24′ s business. The core of ON24’s proffer to customers is an ability to collect granular data on engagement during events like webinars, using polls, surveys and other features. In its prospectus for the offering, the company says: “We provide a leading, cloud-based digital experience platform that enables businesses to convert customer engagement into revenue through interactive webinar experiences, virtual event experiences and multimedia content experiences.”
ON24 is a veteran vendor by martech standards, created in 1998 as a streaming video platform under the name News Direct, becoming a webinar platform in 2003. For several years, it sought to monetize the capability of hosting events, but in 2013 it launched a self-service webinar product with the lead gen-supporting data layer which became its hallmark.
Turning around losses. The company’s growth in recent quarters was preceded by a period of net losses. The prospectus reports net losses of $17.6 and $17.5 million for 2018 and 2019 respectively. For the nine months ending September 30 2019, the prospectus reports a net loss of $14.1 million; but for the same period in 2020, a net income of $11.2 million.
ON24 recently appointed a new CMO, Steve Daheb, whose resume includes almost six years as SVP of Oracle Cloud, and top marketing roles at Citrix and Symantec. Also, last November, it launched the RevNEXT marketplace, featuring vendors offering complementary components of a revenue-generating B2B tech stack. Participants include Bombora, Demandbase, Drift, Integrate, LeanData and 6sense.
Why we care. ON24 is a high profile vendor in the virtual event space, and the timing of this IPO makes sense. The prospectus correctly identifies the background trends contributing to the wind in the company’s sails:
“Personalized and interactive digital customer engagement at scale is the new imperative. Democratization of content has led prospective customers to self-educate. Traditional automated marketing approaches are increasingly ineffective. Data privacy requirements are constraining automated digital marketing.”