This week on the XLIVE Interview Series, we sat down with Biasha Mitchell who oversees Strategy, Music & Live Entertainment at ticketing giant, Eventbrite. Eventbrite has become synonymous with ticketing and has been able to garner massive market share with its ease of use for both event producers and attendees, their ability to measure and analyze data to help event producers, and their embrace of technology. We spoke to Biasha about a number of topics from how Eventbrite started, the number of tickets they process annually, to Eventbrite’s new event management system, Eventbrite Venue. Read Biasha’s answers below.
Can you give us the story behind Eventbrite and how it has grown to one of the largest ticketing companies on the planet?
Back in 2006, we saw a huge gap for event creators: there were simply no great technology solutions available. Julia and Kevin Hartz, and Renaud Visage founded Eventbrite to democratize online ticketing for the live experience industry, effectively enabling anyone with an internet connection to create an event they could share online, take secure online payments for tickets, and collect attendee data in order to build a relationship with their community. A lot has happened since then! In 2017, we crossed $10 billion in gross ticket sales, powering millions of events across the globe and today, we have the largest inventory of paid and free live experiences in the world. Achieving global scale like this meant we had to create and maintain a steadfast platform that both consistently pushes the edges of innovation and technology, yet remains simple and intuitive to use. We still aspire to a mission to democratize ticketing, and to bring the world together through live experiences.
How many tickets are processed through Eventbrite every year?
In 2017, we processed nearly 200M tickets, which equates to more than 3 million tickets per week. We did this on behalf of hundreds of thousands of event creators across the world.
For those who don’t know, can you explain how Eventbrite is different from Ticketmaster, StubHub, and the other ticketing giants?
We’re in rather different businesses. The primary focus for the ticketing giants is on large arenas and stadiums—keeping huge venues filled. While our markets might overlap from time to time, we focus on events of all sizes, from 60K+ multi-day music festivals to small, intimate farm-to-table dinners, and everything in between. As it relates to secondary ticketers like Stubhub, our focus is on primary tickets, not the resale market however we partner with companies like Lyte and Twickets to enable fair fan-to-fan ticket exchanges.
How did technology change the ticketing industry landscape in 2017? Which technology came and which technology left?
Distributed commerce and the ability to sell tickets wherever consumers are online made some serious strides in 2017. We sold millions of tickets through our distribution partners (Facebook, Spotify, Bandsintown, etc.). There is a suite of technology that sits behind enabling native checkouts, including tokenization and anti-fraud measures that had to evolve to serve this offering. We also saw ticketing companies take a more open approach to providing access to their platform through APIs (something we started back in 2009!) making solutions more extensible, and fueling innovation. In terms of technology that left us, we didn’t see much go away entirely, but as it relates to darling topics like streaming and VR, I don’t think we saw the saturation and penetration everyone expected.
In addition to allowing event producers to sell tickets, Eventbrite provides analytics: integration with Google Analytics, the Facebook Pixel, and integration with Facebook’s front end to sell tickets right through Facebook Events. Can you tell us a little about your embrace of technology, data, and social media?
First and foremost, we’re a technology company. We have access to a mind boggling amount of data and we know how to leverage it whether through personalizing event discovery or preventing fraud on the platform. The investments we made early in opening up a set of APIs have allowed us to integrate seamlessly with best-in-class partners, extending the capabilities of the Eventbrite platform and giving our event creators open access to their data. Events are inherently social, so ensuring all of our solutions integrate with social media platforms is critical—we realized this early, as Facebook’s first events partner back in 2008. Powerful data, and the tools that help people leverage it, gives a festival organizer, for example, a full 360-degree view of their attendee from discovery, to purchase, to social sharing, right through to delivery of tickets, their entry, and how they’re experiencing the festival. It can help sell sponsorships (read: generate revenue), determine staffing levels, manage inventory, the list goes on.
What do you think about some new ticketing startups who are using Blockchain to help with safety and security for secondary resale markets
Blockchain is certainly an exciting technology. We’ve seen some applications related to the fast and secure transfer of money, and some others possibly making transactions like peer-to-peer ticket transactions easier and more secure, allowing artists to sell tickets directly to fans, for example. We’re always looking for ways to quickly and efficiently get funds to our event creators and improve the attendee experience, so are closely watching blockchain as it develops.
With regards to security, how does Eventbrite assure customers that their tickets are unique, so they can buy with confidence?
Eventbrite is PCI-compliant and is regularly audited by a Qualified Security Assessor. Additionally, we are scanned daily by an Approved Scanning Vendor, and have passed internal and external application and network penetration testing performed by independent security firms. We also deploy cutting edge proprietary decision logic and machine learning algorithms across the site to prevent fraud and make sure real tickets get into the hands of real fans. We truly believe our fraud detection leads the industry.
Eventbrite has acquired a number of companies through the years. Can you tell us what you look for in a company when acquiring, and how some of these acquisitions have helped Eventbrite?
We actively explore opportunities we believe will enhance our product or business. We are building a platform for everything event-related and we’ve invested in products that improve the entire life cycle of a live experience, not just the transaction. For example, we acquired a company called Scintilla Technologies that laid the foundation for our RFID product. And with our acquisitions of ticketscript and Ticketfly last year, we believe we bring an unparallelled combination of technology and service to better meet the needs of promoters, venues and festivals in the independent live music space.
What ticketing markets did Eventbrite work with first, and what can we expect to see in the future?
In terms of geographies, we first launched in the U.S. and today power millions of events in 180 countries and territories. We service many different types of events from conferences and classes, to food and drink, to arguable one of our largest categories in music. Within music, we partner with around 2,000 of the top independent venues and promoters in North America. For festivals, we’re built for all shapes and sizes, music and non-music, whether it be 10-20,000 capacity single-day events to massive, multi-day festivals.
Can you tell us about ‘Eventbrite Venue’, the venue management solution from Eventbrite?
Eventbrite Venue is the industry’s first fully integrated booking, operations, and ticketing solution. We created it to help venue managers, promoters, and event producers run their venue through a single interface—from first hold to last call. Features like the mobile-friendly booking calendar, ability to guest list, and real-time sales data were all built into one simple interface, streamlining the workflow, and saving promoters and managers time so they could focus on doing what they do best—putting on great shows. We are really excited to combine the power of Eventbrite Venue with the Ticketfly platform to deliver the world’s most powerful live music platform that will be the choice for independent music venues and promoters the world over.