San Diego’s Eventful Looks to Put Consumers in Charge, with Backward Glance at eBay

8/3/11Follow @bvbigelow

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the entire warehouse of music archives.” With Demand it, Glazier says Eventful is offering a way to democratize the process that Joni Mitchell once described as “stoking the star maker machinery behind the popular song.”

“Demand it empowers consumers to be able to influence the location and—or—content of entertainment and events,” Glazier says. “From a consumer’s perspective, you’re able to demand the content you want. And from the point of view of 100,000 musicians, filmmakers, exhibitors, politicians, authors, comedians, performers, you can use Demand it to gather data about where they should perform. In other words, it helps artists sell tickets.”

Unlike social marketing agencies that look outward, Eventful’s Lehman writes in an e-mail, “We’re tapping fans in our own community…People are waiting to hear from us so they can participate.”

For example, Lehman says Eventful’s approach helped more than 1.5 million consumers influence the distribution strategy of a motion picture for the first time after Paramount Pictures acquired rights to the 2007 independent film “Paranormal Activity.” The ’70s rock band KISS used Eventful’s Demand it feature to determine a nostalgia tour, based purely on the 50 cities with the highest consumer demand. In a second tour, KISS announced plans to play in 22 markets, and used Demand it to let fans in each market determine which local band would open the show.

“Fifteen years ago, the Internet was the information superhighway, but it was one way,” Glazier says. It’s become more and more interactive, and there’s now a generation of 18- to 30-year-olds who have grown up with the Internet. There is not just an expectation, but almost a sense of entitlement that the Web is not just there to inform and entertain them, but to help them impact the world around them.”

It is a continuation of the kind of interactivity that eBay ignited 16 years ago. As Glazier puts it, “eBay is part of my digital DNA. They had a marketing slogan, ‘Shop Victoriously.’ You weren’t just buying something. You won! And Demand it conveys a similar sense of empowerment.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://brianstorms.com Brian Dear

    Bruce,

    As Eventful’s founder I thought I would chime in with some comments.

    1) You state the company has raised “$30 million in three rounds.” Are you sure? Eventful did have three rounds, but only $20 million was raised. Did the company recently raise $10 more million? Perhaps it is a typo or you were told inaccurate information?

    2) You state the seven-year-old company had “seven employees just five years ago”. Actually, as of five years ago (August 2006, my how time flies) there were probably 17 or 18 people working at the company.

    3) It is correct that the initial name of Eventful was “EVDB”, which stood for “Events and Venues Database.” The idea was to build the equivalent of CDDB (the huge music-information database) or IMDB (the huge movies database) but this time for events, and become the de-facto search engine for events worldwide. But to be clear, the Demand it! feature was part of my very earliest vision; I even blogged about it twice a few years before founding the company. When I circulated the initial 5-pager to potential investors in January 2004 describing the vision for EVDB, it talked about Demand as a way to aggregate interest in desired events that were actually not scheduled but that people wished for. I should also mention that the reason I didn’t choose “Eventful” as the company name from day one is because, while that was the name I wanted, the domain name “eventful.com”, while available, was for sale by a domain squatter for $888 which I thought was an outrageous sum at the time and, silly me, simply couldn’t in good conscience pay for. So I got EVDB.com, which was available, and went with that, though I kept a watchful eye on the “eventful.com” domain every week or so for a long time. By the time we bought the “eventful.com” domain name, let’s just say the price had gone up more than tenfold, but it was still a great investment!

    4) Early on, nobody wanted the “Demand it!” feature at the company, and I mean nobody, including the employees, the board of directors, and yes, even Mr. Glazier once he joined the company a month after it was launched. If I had not pushed hard for it the feature would never have seen the light of day. But we shipped it, in March 2006, and it took a long while to catch on, which was frustrating, but eventually it did catch on. Mr. Glazier deserves a lot of credit for helping it eventually catch on with millions of people.

    5) While it is technically, as in chronologically, accurate to state that “Since Mr. Glazier has stepped in as CEO . . . Eventful moved to a multi-platform strategy” it is kind of misleading for readers. The reality is that much of that strategy was already underway, especially the syndication of calendars, email reminders, and widgets. As for mobile, there was near zero interest in mobile. Then the iPhone came out but even that did not ignite interest in mobile inside the company so I had to resort to designing an Eventful iPhone app myself and hiring an outside firm to build it. Nobody wanted to do mobile, even after that app launched in the App Store, and by two years later there was still so much resistance against mobile in the company that it was the main reason I finally resigned from the board of directors to pursue mobile opportunities full-time elsewhere.

    6) It depresses me to hear Mr. Glazier describe “Demand it!” these days as something that lets “consumers” to “demand the content you want.” Sure, I suppose that is one sort of abstract, MBA way to describe it, but it sure isn’t how I ever thought of it when I created the feature. The Demand it! feature was intended to be rather radical, as in disintermediating businesses like Ticketmaster, by giving people a free way, a new power, to make desired, wished-for events happen in their own cities and towns without a lot of middlemen involved (how naiive, I know). Note I didn’t say “consumers”, but I said people, both audiences and performers both. And I didn’t say “content”, but “events”, as in experiences that are scheduled and happen somewhere, things you go to with friends and family. I don’t go to a concert to receive “content”, I go to feel, experience, listen, enjoy, be moved by music, and share that experience with the people I am with. I don’t go to a movie to receive “content”, I likewise go to be transported somewhere else, to live a story, to see a part of the world I might have never seen before, to be moved, to laugh, to cry, and to share those experiences with others in a theatre. I suspect that is the way most people feel about events. We shouldn’t forget that.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbigelow/ Bruce V. Bigelow

    Interesting! Thanks Brian.