Customer Story

How TechCrunch used Hopin to host their first ever fully-virtual Disrupt Conference


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TechCrunch is an online publisher focusing on the tech industry. It reports on topics like technology news, emerging tech trends and new tech businesses and products. TechCrunch hosts the TechCrunch Disrupt event each year.

TechCrunch Disrupt is a five-day conference of tens of thousands of attendees who gather in San Francisco. It regularly features the world’s leading minds in venture capital, technology, innovation and startups — like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerburg, Marc Benioff, and Marissa Mayer. The conference is known for its Startup Battlefield, a business pitch competition for rising tech startups. In 2020, TechCrunch chose to host the event virtually.

TechCrunch believes video is the key to making virtual conferences feel like in-person events

In their search for a virtual event platform, TechCrunch compiled a list of possible providers. They wanted a cutting-edge platform that would closely replicate an in-person event experience and wow their tech-obsessed audience.

Joey Hinson, Senior Director of Operations at TechCrunch, says that video and face-to-face interactions are the key to making a virtual event feel like an in-person event. And so, these two factors were important qualifications during TechCrunch’s search for an event platform.

You want your attendees to come out of the other side of it with a better, deeper, more valuable network and a set of opportunities that they didn’t have before. That’s the most important thing in a virtual event.

—Joey Hinson, Senior Director of Operations at TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s search ended when they discovered Hopin. “The main thing that got me excited about Hopin was the video-first approach,” says Hinson.

Hinson went on to explain that seeing other people face-to-face is an essential part of the event experience — whether that event is virtual or in-person. Video is stressed in every virtual area within Hopin — including the stage, session rooms, networking, and sponsor expo booths. “That’s why we went with [Hopin],” Jensen says.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 featured talks, sessions, and panels from successful business leaders and professionals — like Conan O’Brien (Host of CONAN & President of Team Coco Digital), Kevin Hart (Actor and Brand Partner at Fabletics Men) Mike Cannon-Brookes (Co-Founder of Atlassian), Tamar Yehoshua (Chief Product Officer at Slack), Andy Fang (Co-Founder and CTO at DoorDash), Alice Vilma (Managing Director at Morgan Stanley) and many more.

To help attendees, speakers, and sponsors easily navigate TechCrunch Disrupt on event day, TechCrunch created a 1-minute video to show registrants the different areas of the conference.

Using Hopin’s Stage feature, TechCrunch created two different stages for the event — the Disrupt Stage where startups would compete and pitch their businesses and the Extra Crunch Stage that featured content to help startups and businesses grow.

On the Disrupt Stage, TechCrunch brought pitch battle competitors, judges, and moderators into one virtual room where competitors could pitch and judges could ask questions and provide feedback.

After every company finished their pitches and judges deliberated, the top competitors met with moderators to find out who won. The moderators stood on a virtually simulated stage during this portion of the event.

On the Extra Crunch Stage, TechCrunch hosted educational presentations with speakers, but they also gave sponsors the opportunity to present. This was an effective way for the TechCrunch team to increase value for sponsors and sponsorship revenue.

TechCrunch Disrupt also featured track content from specialists using Hopin’s Sessions rooms. Again, to increase sponsor value, they allowed sponsors to have different Session rooms to present their own content.

Disrupt used Hopin’s Expo Hall functionality to create over 32 sponsor booths.

For networking, TechCrunch used Hopin’s networking feature, which pairs attendees at random for one-on-one conversations, as well as CrunchMatch, a widget that allowed algorithm-driven networking.

Networking was very heavily utilized throughout the conference. [The event] had over 3,000 meetings using the Hopin networking feature. The networking module is incredibly effective.

—Joey Hinson, Senior Director of Operations at TechCrunch

TechCrunch also used Hopin’s chat feature throughout the conference, which allows attendees to chat in groups or even one-on-one. An attendee can even invite someone else they’re chatting with to a video conference. “The chat feature is pretty great,” says Hinson.

TechCrunch says Hopin is the “best product out there” for virtual events

Thousands of people attended the live, virtual TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 event.

We certainly couldn’t have done it ourselves. Hopin is the best product that I’ve found out there and it’s great if you’re looking for a video-first experience.

—Joey Hinson, Senior Director of Operations at TechCrunch

Originally published Sep 01, 2022, updated Nov 03, 2023

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