Kevin Hartz's Eventbrite democratizes events

From yoga classes to Turkey Trots, Eventbrite's business is adding up to billions

Entrepreneur interview by Bambi Francisco Roizen
November 30, 2009 | Comments (4)
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It's no secret that traditional businesses continue to be under assault and consumers are increasingly empowered on the Internet. It's particularly noticeable in traditional media, where consumers are producing a large part of material consumed and in many cases, creating a whole new genre of content and displacing certain jobs, notably editors.

In like vein, consumers are producing a whole new category of tickets available and accessible and at the same time supplanting some jobs, notably event managers. That's thanks to Eventbrite. As Kevin Hartz, CEO and founder says, he's "democratizing tickets," giving anyone the ability to easily create, organize, market and sell tickets to an event - from a yoga class, Turkey Trot to a conference.

While some of these events have been in existence well before Eventbrite, the ability to easily manage them has been lacking. The result has been the emergence of even more events as newbie event organizers, like me, feel empowered to put on an event, like VatorSplash, which is hosted on Eventbrite. 

To this end, Eventbrite faces a greenfield opportunity, one that Ticketmaster - the king of ticketing generating about $350 million quarterly - doesn't seem to have any presence in.

Whereas Ticketmaster controls a large share of the ticketing industry for rock concerts and sporting events, Eventbrite wants to own the long tail. You won't find tickets for Justin Timerlake on this site. 

"We can't guess what the next event will be," said Kevin, referring to the various and sundry events he sees sprouting on his site daily. The service has held about 150,000 events and sold more than 10 million tickets since inception in 2006, he said. The majority of the events are categorized as conferences and classes. At the moment, there are tickets for nearly 5400 classes and 3650 conferences available. This year, the company is set to approach $100 million in gross ticket sales, according to Kevin.

Why not focus on big concerts and sporting events - markets that are clearly huge? I asked. "We don't want to get into rock concerts or sporting events," he said. "You have to walk before you run... Companies start in one area can often move up. We have such a large market where we are right now. And, we're still mastering this area."

Kevin sizes the market in the tens of billions in gross dollars. Eventbrite, which raised $6.5 million recently from Sequoia Capital and high-profile angel investors, takes a small fee under 3% for each event, plus $1. To that end, Eventbrite's market opportunity is in the low single-digit billions annually, he said.

Also in this interview, Kevin talks about how Facebook and Twitter are the biggest drivers of traffic to his site. He attributes this to the social nature of events. In the case of Facebook, as people purchase tickets to events, that action is posted on their wall for others to see. It's a great form of marketing for the event organizer and for Eventbrite.

Stay tuned for the second part of my interview in which Kevin will talk about Eventbrite's business model.  



John Smith, on November 30, 2009

It seems that Eventbrite is a nice hybrid of Ticketmaster and Evite. Latter has definitely missed a great niche (management is probably kicking itself for missed opportunity). Also, although Eventbrite caters semi-professional events, the service is free for free events. Again, poor Evite has lost some of its customers because of the free feature.

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on November 30, 2009

It's funny. I didn't even think of Evite until I was in the midst of the interview. But as Kevin mentioned, Eventbrite is far more about "transactions" - which requires a totally different set of expertise and knowledge than media companies have.

John Boyd, on December 2, 2009

Great interview. Eventbrite has a great user interface and business model. How do they compare to eventful, meetup, and Constant Contacts new events? Different model, different focus or overlapping?

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on December 2, 2009

Thanks, John - I don't know Eventful or Constant Contacts that well. But they're so different from Meetup. Eventbrite really provides the holistic set of tools to create, market and complete the transaction around events. Meetup doesn't provide the same value at all. I'd imagine Meetup could use Eventbritte to market its events.

John Boyd, on December 2, 2009

Hi Bambi - Constant Contacts recently launched "events" functionality targeting their business users to help them promote their business events. Likely a slight overlap with eventbrite, but unclear. I agree Meetup is different as its mostly focused on organizing groups and does a great job at it (Dean almost won the primary if it wasn't for the media-spun "Dean Scream") and I think trademarked "meetup". I'm also unfamilar with eventful. I believe they are focused on paid venue events, but appear to be on a tear traffic wise. Despite that, I'm pretty bullish on eventbrite. Not mentioned in the video is they were bootstrapped (with perhaps a angel round) prior to their funding. With $6.5 million in new funding, they should hold their own well. Best of luck to them.

Justin B, on January 21, 2010

Bambi - I think your math is a little off in the following interview regarding EB's gross revenue.. They make roughly 2.5% of gross ticket sales. If GTS are $100 million -- 2.5% is $2,500,000 in revenue not $25,000,000.

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