Kevin Hartz's Eventbrite democratizes events

Bambi Francisco Roizen · November 30, 2009 · Short URL:

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

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.  

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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