Ringing the NYSE bell together: How Unity put the “U” in UPO

What happens when real-time 3D technology meets one of the oldest time-honored traditions in public stock exchanges? Learn how Unity transformed an initial public offering (IPO) – typically attended only by a company’s executives – into an employee-centered virtual event celebrated by thousands.

When Unity decided to take action to become a public company, it was on one condition: it would be vastly different from a traditional IPO. Basing this approach on two of Unity’s core values – Go Bold and In It Together – we partnered with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to build a completely different opening ceremony. 

The NYSE is a fixture in the world of public financial markets and, much like many other organizations, had to take a different approach to a historically traditional process and ceremony. Our 2020 IPO was an ideal opportunity to bridge the old with the new. Traditional IPOs typically follow a number of timed events such as the unveiling of the company’s banner on the NYSE facade, the bell ringing promptly at 9:30 am from the balcony, the physical signing of the book (a 150-year-old tradition), and a variety of meetings and interviews. The rest is up to the company to make its own.

Turning an IPO into a UPO

What was clear from the beginning of our IPO process was that all employees would have to be involved on the morning of the event. All 3000-plus of them. So by engineering the event according to our company values, we could create a “Unity” Public Offering or UPO. But what kind of real-time, web-based system would we have to build to make it happen? 

To start, we brought in teams from two recent acquisitions, Furioos and Finger Food Advanced Technology, to brainstorm. And then we brainstormed some more, filling up virtual whiteboard after virtual whiteboard. Our big challenges included: how could we enable thousands of people to ring a virtual bell and sign a virtual wall at the same time? Oh, and to further challenge ourselves – we needed to integrate NYSE live coverage with employee videos (filmed at home and on different devices) and curated Unity creator content as part of the event. Another Unity core value is Best Ideas Win and we put it to the test. 

Getting down to work

With sleeves rolled up, we divided the development across multiple teams, both within Unity and at the NYSE. Since accessibility was critical, we set up a unique event website for everyone to easily reach and participate in the experience when the time came. 

Next, we tapped into the power of Furioos – a cloud-based streaming technology – to bring the same experience to all employees regardless if they were on a tablet, laptop or desktop, including older devices (Furioos runs 3D apps in the cloud and treats them as if they are on your local device).

One of the big processing issues we had to resolve was that we needed to pass a lot of information via the web page (such as user authentication, environment data, and device capabilities) to the Unity app handling the content. Fortunately, the Furioos SDK simplified this so we had more time to focus on perfecting the user experience. 

Adding employee voices and creator content

To ensure

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