Explore the Online-to-Offline Economy with Eventbrite on August 7

6/27/12Follow @wroush

In its infancy, toddlerhood, and adolescence, the Web was pretty much stuck in its own little world. Most Web content and service providers were keen to keep people online for as long as possible (think Farmville). But as the Web matures, it’s going through an interesting transformation. It’s turning outward and taking a more practical, grown-up role in our everyday, offline activities.

This emerging trend has been called “online-to-offline” or O2O, and it’s exemplified by services like Groupon and Yelp in the restaurant business, TripAdvisor and Hipmunk in travel, and Zipcar and Uber in the transportation business. These are companies using the power of Web (and mobile) technology to connect people with things and activities that are anchored in the real world, and they make up one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Web economy.

One of the most interesting O2O companies, in my book, is San Francisco-based Eventbrite. I’ve written before about how co-founders Kevin Hartz, Julia Hartz, and Renaud Visage realized back in 2006 that event ticketing was ripe for disruption: planners of major events were beholden to a big incumbent with high fees (Ticketmaster), while planners of smaller events resorted to a mishmash of tools like e-mail, Excel, and paper invitations.

But as Eventbrite has grown—it’s now raised more than $80 million in venture funding and helped customers sell more than 60 million tickets worldwide—it has evolved into something much bigger than a clearinghouse for event tickets and payments. It’s also becoming a tool for discovering cool events in your local area—and it’s inspiring people to organize new types of events that would have been hard to publicize and administer in a pre-Eventbrite era.

I’m thrilled to announce that on Tuesday, Aug. 7, Xconomy will host Kevin and Julia Hartz in downtown San Francisco for an evening forum on the growth of the O2O economy. We’ll talk about why the Hartzes started Eventbrite, how they’ve managed the company through its exponential growth, and how they balance couplehood and family life with the duties of startup founders.

Of course, we’ll also talk about strategies for startups that want to use real-world events to build communities and boost their brands. That’s something we’ve been doing here at Xconomy since the beginning—and it’s no coincidence that we use Eventbrite to manage attendance. (As big fans of all things recursive and Escher-esque, we’re nicknaming this forum the Event Event.)

Also on the agenda, we’ll ask Kevin Hartz—an early investor in PayPal who’s since become one of Silicon Valley’s most sought-after angel investors—to explain his outlook on the current startup scene. Hartz told Wired back in May that he has temporarily closed his wallet: His last investment was in Pinterest, back in early 2011. With too much capital chasing too few great companies, he says, there’s a correction in startup valuations coming.

“We can’t know how much longer this abundance of capital will last, but I don’t want to be a part of it,” Hartz told the magazine. “When I see a massive number of new investors and carpetbaggers coming in, it’s time to get out.” We’ll find out how long Hartz plans to stick to his bearish outlook, and what startups should be doing to prepare for the potentially wintry conditions ahead.

Our host for this event is Greenstart, the energy-and-infotech accelerator that’s churning out new startups at a rapid pace. And we’re excited to welcome a new first-time event sponsor, the Wells Fargo Technology & Venture Banking Group.

If you buy a ticket for the event before July 10, you can register at the Super Saver rate of just $50. Employees of startups that are less than 3 years old with 20 or fewer employees can get in for $40, and as always, we have an affordable student rate of just $15. If you decide to join us, be sure to let your friends know using our event hashtag, #xco2o. (Those are o’s, not zeroes.)

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

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