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Making Virtual Events Viable

With greater accessibility, virtual events can reach a broader audience, but many traditional in-person event tactics are not transferable to an online experience. When it comes to scheduling, structure, content, and monetization, virtual events have new challenges and opportunities to consider. In an insightful discussion moderated by Christopher Macdonald (CEO & Publisher, Anime News Network), join Justin Rojas (HomeCon), Samuel González (Japan Weekend), and Amanda Arrizza (Otakuthon) share their various experiences with virtual events, discuss the pros and cons, and explore what the future of virtual events may look like.

About the Speakers

Christopher Macdonald

Christopher Macdonald, CEO and Publisher of Anime News Network, spent over a decade as the editor-in-chief, directly involved in day-to-day news and editorial, giving him a very unique understanding of the anime industry as a whole and of industry-press relations. No longer involved in daily editorial, he now handles business development for ANN and provides marketing and PR consulting services to companies entering the anime market.

Justin Rojas

As Co-Founder and Executive Producer for HomeCon, Justin oversaw production for the world’s first virtual and most well-attended digital convention series on Twitch. While producing panels featuring over 100 of today’s most celebrated actors, Justin helped HomeCon rise the ranks to immediately become one of the top 80 most-subscribed pages out of over 2 million streamers on the platform. As the Vice President of Events for Envy Gaming, he continues to build the foundations for gaming events for Dallas Fuel in the Overwatch League and the current world champion team Dallas Empire in Call of Duty League. In 2019, Justin and his company, Envy, hosted the first home game in esports history for 9,000 fans over two days. Justin is head of business development for Studio Nano, a Dallas-based production and voice-over studio. He also strategically established the media presence for Funimation, and during his 9-year tenure, helped Funimation grow to become the world’s premiere streaming platform for Anime with a supportive fanbase of millions.

Samuel Gonzalez

A huge fan of pop culture, Samuel started in the convention business as an attendee, and quickly wanted to be more involved. His first trip to Japan in 2007 provided him with a whole new set of ideas and new friendships that allowed him to become a volunteer in a starting company while he was working at the hotel business. 3 years ago, he decided to change the scene and became a full time employee at Japan Weekend, which has become the largest Japanese culture con in Spain, with 6 different cities and over 165000 visitors in Madrid. SInce he entered there, he’s been dealing with partners, international guests, licensing… Almost every aspect of delivering the best possible experience to the public. The part he loves the most is meeting the international guests attending Japan Weekend, and seeing people enjoying the conventions. He’s currently working on a new publishing project within his company, and planning his 7th visit to Japan with his fiancée.

Amanda Arizza

Amanda Arrizza is the president and founder of Otakuthon, the largest fan-run Japanese anime convention in Quebec and the second largest of its kind in Canada.  Since 2006, Otakuthon has been celebrating Japanese traditional and popular culture with fans and welcomed over 25500 fellow fans during its most recent physical edition.  A fan of Japanese animation since her childhood, this pastime introduced her to the wonderful culture of fandom and community that she wanted to help grow and share with others to enjoy.  Her efforts have helped Otakuthon earn an award from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2018 where the event was recognized for its promotion of cultural exchanges between Japan and Canada.  When not running an anime convention, she can be found making detailed travel and financial planning.