The 12-year-old tech company founded by spouses Julia and Kevin Hartz has become one of the most powerful ticketing companies in the world through steady growth and a string of acquisitions including Ticketfly in 2017 for $200 million from Pandora, transforming Eventbrite overnight into a powerhouse in the independent music space with iconic clients like the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Nashville’s Mercy Lounge and big festivals like Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival in Florida, Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas and Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis.
But the acquisition has also led to one of the darkest moments for the company, the May 30 hack attack that exploited a vulnerability in Ticketfly’s network of WordPress-powered sites that took the ticketer offline for days, leaving hundreds of venues, festivals and promoters without the ability to sell or list tickets during the busy summer period. The outage left many wondering if Eventbrite and Ticketfly, which power many client venue’s websites, ad-buying platforms, venue software and email marketing, had become too big to fail. For weeks, clients had to rely on hastily created websites and Ticketfly-powered apps that didn’t work correctly. Ultimately 27 million users had their data compromised and company officials have been unclear about what client data, if any, has been illegally authorized.
To date, neither Julia Hartz (who took over the company from her husband due to an illlness) nor head of music Andrew Dreskin have publicly addressed the crisis or made any real attempt to explain what happened or what the company is doing to protect itself going forward. As a result, a number of clients have quietly left Ticketfly, including Largo in Los Angeles which signed with See Tickets shortly after the “cyber incident.” Rival firm eTix also pounced on the breach and attempted to lure a number of clients away from Ticketfly, arguing the outage was a breach of contract for Ticketfly clients. Several clients told Billboard that Ticketfly officials have offered cash settlements to keep clients on the platform.
Eventbrite has faced other embarrassments in recent years — in 2016 the company was sued after a failed attempt to purchase Wantickets and hire CEO Barack Schurr, who eventually resigned after it was discovered he had begun recruiting clients for Eventbrite before the Wantickets sale was complete.
But those hiccups have done little to slow the powerful platform, which according to Forbes processes more than three million tickets per week, with events in 180 countries and $10 billion in sales since its founding. In April, Eventbrite purchased Spanish ticketing firm Tickettea as well as Ticketscript back in January. Eventbrite now has an integration with Instragram to sell tickets on the popular platform and has signed a multi-year deal with Barcelona promoter Elrow Family and British show organizer MJR, as well as UK experiential event planner Mega Events,
Eventbrite has also been successful raising money, bringing in $330 million from firms like Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management and DAG Ventures.