Eventbrite Goes On a $50 Million E Ticket Ride

5/18/11Follow @wroush

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big traditional auction houses like Bonhams & Butterfields that would have to compete with them,” says Hartz. “But really, eBay was enabling this whole market outside of that, and the traditional auction houses were insignificant in comparison.”

In the same way, Hartz says, Eventbrite hopes to “democratize” events, making it easier for any organization to market events, sell tickets, manage admissions at the door without having to turn over such large commissions to agencies like Ticketmaster.

And increasingly, Eventbrite is taking on Ticketmaster directly. On June 9, the Black Eyed Peas will give their first-ever live concert in New York’s Central Park, as a benefit for Robin Hood, a group battling poverty in New York. Eventbrite is the sole ticketing partner for the event, which could turn out to be the largest the company has ever handled. Hartz says he’s confident Eventbrite can handle the twin challenges of large-scale ticketing: first, the rush of tens of thousands of people seeking to buy tickets online, and second, ticket scanning at the event gates, where the problem is preventing entry by people with duplicate or counterfeit tickets.

The startup has already released ticket-scanning app for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and it’s about to start demonstrating an enhanced, iPad-based system called “Eventbrite at the Door.” Says Hartz, “You’ll be able to check people off at will-call, manage inventory, and conduct credit-card sales at the door, and it can be used for the largest venues all the way down to your events”—meaning Xconomy’s, which are usually in the neighborhood of 100 to 400 attendees.

Eventbrite will be in good company in Tiger Global’s portfolio—the firm has large stakes in tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix. Hartz says the lead Tiger Global investor on the Eventbrite deal is managing director Lee Fixel, who’s also on the boards of Netshoes, Flipkart, and Jobs.ch. “He’s great,” says Hartz. “He’s 31 years old, and he’s traveled a couple hundred thousand miles last year with investments in China, Brazil, and Russia, so he has a very interesting perspective … Tiger Global is a relatively new player on the scene, but one that is having a great influence.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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