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Reflections: The ON24 Journey

February 3rd, 2021 Sharat Sharan

Today ON24 becomes a publicly-traded company. For many CEOs this moment is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. For me, it’s an exciting next step in our journey to transform how companies drive revenue in a digital-first world. On this momentous day, I thought I would share some reflections about the history of our company, the evolution of our platform and why I believe our mission has never been more important.

Our Story:

I founded ON24, twenty years ago, with the idea that we needed to fundamentally change how companies engaged their audiences in an increasingly digital world. At the time, online communications were comprised of streaming tools to deliver static, boring, presentations. We created a platform that enabled companies to deliver fully branded, highly-customizable, interactive, multi-media webinars and virtual events. ON24 webinars were not webinars, they were experiences. Today, ON24 live experience averages 50 minutes, to audiences with over 200+ attendees, delivering over 20+ data points of engagement.

Our early list of blue-chip customers validated the idea that digital marketing still required human connection. The virtual experiences delivered on our platform re-imagined how companies engaged their prospects, customers and partners and we quickly became a powerful engine for driving revenue for many of the world’s largest companies.

Fast forward, a few years later, I had a realization that put ON24 on the path that has brought us to this moment. In the business-to-business world, buyer behavior was changing rapidly. Much like in the consumer world, buyers had taken control of their own decision-making journey. They spent less time talking to salespeople and more time educating themselves online. When you shopped for a car, you didn’t just drive to the lot and pick a car, you turned on your computer, did your research, read reviews, watched videos, and educated yourself towards a purchase decision. Business decision-makers were suddenly on the same path. They were on a journey of self-education, and they expected every digital interaction to be personalized to their unique interests and needs. This left businesses across every industry struggling to anticipate these needs and personalize every interaction in an impactful way.

The response to this new dynamic was the emergence of numerous automated marketing technologies that tried to scale digital engagement but resulted in endless spam and digital ads. It was all scale and little substance. These technologies were not only pushing audiences away, they didn’t deliver the actionable insights and data needed to further personalize engagement and drive buying decisions. That is when I realized that ON24 could change everything.

The foundation of our platform was built around the idea that interactive, multimedia experiences increased audience engagement, which delivered better data, and with better data, you could further personalize the next experience. It creates a flywheel effect.

We expanded our Platform to include ON24 Engagement Hubs, Netflix-like content experiences to extend the life and reach of your best content. We created ON24 Target, which delivers customizable landing pages that could be personalized for highly targeted audience experiences. Finally, we built a powerful analytics and AI engine that converts the audience engagement, across all of the experiences in our platform, into the data needed to drive further personalization and unearth powerful buying signals to convert prospects into customers. And we integrate that data across the marketing ecosystem. Our platform has now become a powerful system of engagement for companies to drive the entire buying journey, accelerating pipeline and revenue.

In the consumer world, channels like Facebook have revolutionized how companies sell to consumers by leveraging user engagement to deliver hyper-personalized marketing. That is the value that ON24 delivers in the business-to-business world. A value that extends both to buyers, who are looking for experiences beyond the endless spam, and businesses who need to transform how they market to them.

The era of automation is over, the era of engagement has begun.

A Culture of Innovation and Customer Centricity

We are incredibly proud of the fact that our platform was built from the ground up, by our own hands, with a clear vision for how we were changing the nature of business. This is a team that was in it for the long haul, not the quick hit. Many of the people that helped build our platform are still with us today; still hungry, still pushing us forward.

But we didn’t do it alone. Our spirit of innovation is guided by our customers; they have been our partners in the evolution of our platform every step of the way. Customer centricity is not a buzzword to us, it’s in our DNA as a company. We listen, we learn and we innovate.

Final Thoughts

This is a company that, at its heart, is fueled by an exceptional group of passionate, committed people, driven by a shared mission. The ON24 platform enables businesses to monetize engagement by delivering relevant, personalized and impactful experiences that deliver the data and insights needed to drive revenue. We are helping thousands of global companies to convert millions of prospects to buyers. That mission continues to guide us forward.

I want to thank all of the ON24 employees, past and present, that have brought us to this incredible landmark. I could not be more proud of you. I also want to share this moment with our customers. Your success is at the heart of everything we do and we thank you for your partnership.

It’s a great day for ON24. Another step in a long journey, and we are just getting started.

Sharat Sharan