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10 Days and Counting: ARK Invest Pivots to Virtual in Record Time—With Record Success

ARK Invest’s Bis2020 Virtual Event
April, 2020

Cathie Wood - Virtual Event

The Event

  • 10 days from start to showtime
  • 5 presenters

The Success

  • 13,000 page views and counting
  • 6,000+ on-demand replays
  • 4,000+ unique custom registrations


The challenge

Just 10 days before their conference, ARK Invest had to pivot from in-person to virtual—and make the event stand out


The solution

An intuitive platform, seamless tech integrations, and a professional production team collaborating every step of the way


The impact

An elevated experience—with a global audience two times larger than anticipated—and a new avenue for future events


Keeping the ARK afloat in stormy seas

ARK Investment Management is a leading investment adviser, managing $10 billion of assets. For over 40 years, they’ve invested in disruptive innovation—and a key aspect of their approach is connecting experts and industry leaders through several highly popular conferences throughout the year.

ARK’s April 2020 conference—Bis2020—was all set to bring together 2,000 investment experts for an exciting lineup of keynote speakers, including ARK CEO and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood. But their smooth sailing hit choppy waters when lockdowns rolled out across the globe in March—and ARK was determined to keep their event afloat.


Calling in the Brandlive armada

The need was urgent—the ARK team had just three weeks to shift Bis2020 from an in-person conference to a virtual space. Sebastian Benkert, ARK’s CMO, described his team’s fast decision-making process: “When everyone canceled their live events and conferences in March 2020 because of COVID-19, we decided that our event in early April shouldn’t be canceled.”

“My role was to provide a solution within three weeks of the event that allowed us to move it online and avoid cancelation,” Benkert explained. With a ticking clock, he reached out to Brandlive—and our teams went full speed ahead to bring Bis2020 into the virtual realm.

Cathie Wood Speaking at ARK Invest Virtual Event
ARK Invest's Bis2020 virtual event was customized to match their brand identity.

Challenges solved

  1. A pivot to virtual—in just 10 days.

    Working shoulder-to-shoulder, the ARK and Brandlive teams quickly transformed the premier event from in-person to virtual, incorporating ARK’s needs for platform integration as well as an elevated experience, all on a tight schedule of 10 days total.Like every event at Brandlive, Bis2020 was assigned a dedicated support team. Benkert said, “The Brandlive team was very supportive, friendly, and knowledgeable, making it fun to collaborate. They offered a great end-to-end support team and customer success manager.”

    When planning the virtual event with Brandlive, Benkert explained that there were specific needs to be addressed: “We were required to find a solution that would support at least 2,000 live attendees and remote panelists speakers across the globe.” The Brandlive Events platform supports over one million attendees across worldwide locations, bringing ARK’s conference from in-person to online with ease.

  2. Seamless platform and tech integration.

    One initial concern for the ARK team was learning a new platform quickly—a worry that was quickly put to rest by the user-friendly nature of the Brandlive platform and expert support. Benkert said, “In the middle of COVID-19, Brandlive support helped us with our decision-making, when our platform experience was still very limited. The Brandlive platform itself was easy to understand and offered us the level of customization and branding we desired.”

    Another technical requirement for ARK was Brandlive’s ability to integrate with ARK’s internal systems. Benkert said, “A lot of our marketing workflows are automated, and being able to integrate with our CRM is a critical aspect for ARK. Initially this wasn’t a key factor for us, as we had to find a solution quickly. However, now it’s a benefit we wouldn’t want to miss.”

The Brandlive team was very supportive, friendly, and knowledgeable, making it fun to collaborate. They offered a great end-to-end support team and customer success manager.

-Sebastian Benkert, CMO, ARK Invest

Big wins

  1. Pro-quality production and support.

    Using Brandlive Events, Greenroom, and the remote Brandlive production team, the tailor-designed Bis2020 was a success, featuring multiple speakers, agendas, and ways to interact with people and content. Greenroom allowed conference presenters to speak with ease, knowing exactly when they would be going live and who was in their audience.

    “Working with a professional and experienced Brandlive production team took the edge off for the ARK team. It allowed us to focus on the speakers, the branding, the promotion, rather than worrying about the technical challenges and execution.”

  2. An elevated, interactive experience.

    Most importantly, Benkert wanted a memorable experience for ARK’s conference guests. “When we decided to move our event from a great location at Columbia University to an online event, we knew we couldn’t just make it a webinar or Zoom meeting event. We wanted to offer a better experience in a branded environment with professional production.”

    To that end, the Brandlive production team partnered with ARK to create a design strategy that perfectly aligned the event’s visual appearance to the ARK brand.

    ARK also leveraged a variety of custom features to create an immersive, engaging audience experience: chat, Q&A with presenters, links to ARK’s website, presenter bios, and more. Bis2020 guests shared positive reviews from locations across the globe. Michael Stevens of Fairfax, VA was not alone when he commented to the event’s audience feed, “Excellent summit—very interesting and informative. Thank you!”

  3. Smooth sailing into the virtual future.

    The ARK team quickly recognized the value of highly engaging virtual events, and leapt at the chance to keep the momentum going after the success of their first online conference. As Benkert noted, “We understood that this will be a new normal, so better to figure it out early and take advantage of the situation.”

    A month after Bis2020, ARK chose Brandlive Events and Greenroom once again for its next large-scale conference: Bis2020, Volume II. Discussion topics included market volatility due to COVID-19, fintech innovation, and the genomic revolution.

    “Looking back, the seamless production and professional team at Brandlive was key—and made us come back,” Benkert said. “Within a span of six months, we are already planning our third event. This one will be produced globally for three different time zones.”

    Brandlive is honored to be the custom canvas of choice for ARK’s most important events and to facilitate their industry-leading investment discussions into the future.

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