Ok, so it looks like Nathan might actually have found a path for taking on the world’s largest ticketing company.
Anyone looking for a not-so-subtle hint that’s he’s planning to disrupt the ticketing space could probably point to his new company’s name, Rival, or his loquacious treatises on the ticket business, often posted on Twitter in long multi-tweet threads, closely followed and picked apart by ticketing insiders and hangers-on.
Today, we know Rival is more than just a name with Amplify exclusively reporting that Hubbard’s company has signed Altitude Tickets, the in-house ticketing platform for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment in Denver, as its first client. While we know little about the terms of the agreement, on paper, the deal could give Hubbard access to three professional sports teams, high profile Denver concerts and marque Colorado venues.
The agreement opens up a narrow path for Hubbard, who has the backing of former StubHub and Live Nation ticketing exec. turned venture-capitalist Greg Bettinelli and an investment from the Kroenke family, to solidify a narrative about taking on Ticketmaster and perhaps finally creating a market challenger that can leap ahead with technology and modernize live entertainment on a platform emphasizing open distribution and fan security.
Before any of that happens though, Hubbard has to show that his Rival ticketing platform, which he’s been teasing in media appearances and podcasts, is ready for prime time and can handle the complexities of high-demand on sales and resold tickets, scaled to work for three separate professional teams plus venues like the Paramount Theater, Dick’s Sporting Good Park and Pepsi Center.
As of now, the ticketing industry will be skeptical of Hubbard until he rolls out Rival and shows that his system can handle a diverse portfolio of clients — sources say AXS’s deal with Altitude ends in June and that Rival needs to be up and running in about five months.
That will be Hubbard’s first big test, delivering a ticketing system that’s ready for primetime and doesn’t meltdown trying to sell Cardi B tickets or a Colorado Avalanche playoff game. Josh and Stan Kroenke family seemed to have made their own bet on the system working, making an early investment in the platform that’s reported raising $33 million in two rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase, with Bettinelli’s firm Upfront Ventures serving as lead investor for the series B round.
Success in Denver could open up Rival to clients like Stan Kroenke’s Los Angeles Rams or the venues within the $4 billion stadium project he’s building in Inglewood, or even Premier League soccer — Kroenke is the largest shareholder in Arsenal and sits on its board. And if Rival really works, it probably doesn’t hurt for Hubbard to be partners with the 58th richest man in America, according to Forbes.
But before any of that happens, the former Ticketmaster CEO will have to show his cards and prove that his Rival ticketing system is the real deal and that it can scale and deliver on some of the technological hype created around his product. Whether its entrenched competitors or jaded ticketing pros looking for something new to believe in, all eyes are now on Hubbard, waiting to see what he delivers this summer.