EZEvent

Eventbrite: Empowering event organizers in the social commerce age

By Alfred Branch Jr.

On a recent trip to the UK, the founders of the San Francisco-based social commerce Web site Eventbrite had an "aha!" moment.

Not because they figured out a new feature for their fast-growing Web site, which allows people to manage, promote and sell tickets to their own events, but because they discovered that their company was developing a global reach.

"We stumbled on this charming event, The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour, and discovered that it was set up using Eventbrite," co-founder and President Julia Hartz told TicketNews. "That was a thrill."

Eventbrite is positioning itself as the place to turn if you want to set up and sell tickets to your event. While their system can easily handle events for tens of thousands of attendees, where the company plans to make hay is with smaller events, the type that Ticketmaster would likely ignore.

"The internet has driven isolation," co-founder and CEO Kevin Hartz told TicketNews. "What we do is bring people and groups together. A robust system for the rest of us."

Besides the Edinburgh literary tour, Eventbrite has also been used to create conferences and festivals, large-scale New Year's Eve parties and neighborhood yoga or guitar classes, among hundreds of other events.

Last month, the company added former Ticketmaster President and CEO Sean Moriarty to its board of directors, a huge coup for the young business because Moriarty is considered one of the country's most knowledgeable and influential ticketing professionals.

He said he was attracted to idea of working with the company because of its "great, energetic staff," but also because he saw Eventbrite's potential. Currently, Moriarty is an entrepreneur-in-residence with the venture capital firm the Mayfield Fund.

"I'm interested in businesses that go after the long tail," Moriarty told TicketNews, referring to niche businesses that seek to sell large quantities of small items in addition to selling fewer big items. "With Eventbrite, they're growing a commercial space by the very existence and providing simple, elegant self-service tools to make events."

The other board members are Roelof Botha, general partner at Sequoia Capital; Alan Braverman, co-founder and chief technology officer of Geni and Yammer; Kevin Hartz; Peter Jackson CEO of Groundwork Open Source; and Andrew Jacobson, general counsel of Universal Sports.

Julia Hartz said while an eventual public offering is a goal, the company is currently in a strong cash position, having raised more than $9 million in venture funding. The company's events generate millions of unique visitors per month, and more than 46,000 paid events have been launched, for which the site charges a fee of either 2.5 percent or $0.99 per ticket sold.

"What we concentrate on is how consumers share and attend events, because events are inherently viral," she said.

Kevin Hartz added, "We're bringing the high-end of ticketing down to everyone."

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