Eventbrite: Transforming from a Ticketing Provider to an Event Discovery Platform

In less than 10 years Eventbrite has established itself as a major force in the ticketing industry. Longer term, the company’s ultimate goal is to become not just a technology provider for individual ticket sellers, but rather a robust discovery platform for consumers to find out what is happening in the world around them.

In less than 10 years Eventbrite has established itself as a major force in the ticketing industry.  As it first mover in the space, the company has leveraged its product simplicity, low fee structure and self-service model to pose a credible threat to traditional ticketing players.  By initially targeting smaller event producers, the company was able to build out its technology and product offering without initially competing directly with Ticketmaster and other incumbent players.  And it’s low fees and self-serve nature opened up an entirely new market to service that previously had no easy way to digitally sell event tickets.

Longer term, the company’s ultimate goal is to become not just a technology provider for individual ticket sellers, but rather a robust discovery platform for consumers to find out what is happening in the world around them.  In order to do that, they knew they first must have a critical mass of events on the platform, so the company initially focused on scaling up the outreach to and onboarding of event producers.  In this way, once the critical mass was attained they could begin shifting consumer perception of the company away from a simple utility to sell event tickets to a consumer portal for event discovery.

This creates value for event producers as they now have a marketing platform that drives event attendance and surfaces their event to visitors of the site.  And Eventbrite’s investment in technology drives the marginal cost of servicing another event to near zero, which then allows the company to charge fees much lower than the industry standard, and relying on high volume to drive profitability.

As a two-sided platform that connects ticket sellers and event producers with ticket buyers and attendees, Eventbrite has benefited from both direct and indirect network effects in several key areas.  Directly, as more and more event sellers join the platform, consumers are able to derive more value from discovery as it is more likely there will be an appealing event that they would like to attend.  And as more and more ticket purchasers come to the site to discover what is happening in their neighborhood or city, event producers will sell more tickets and increasingly regard Eventbrite as not just a way to sell tickets to their current customers, but also an indispensable way to reach new customers.

As for indirect network effects, the company has also dedicated considerable resources to build out their full-service event management platform, which includes on-site ticket sales and ticketing check-in at events.  With these capabilities streamlined, the service becomes even more valuable to ticket sellers, who will then become even more reliant on the platform and less likely to look elsewhere for other ticketing providers.

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3 thoughts on “Eventbrite: Transforming from a Ticketing Provider to an Event Discovery Platform

  1. Interesting post! I think another key piece of Eventbrite’s network effects strategy is to allow users to connect through their Facebook accounts. This helps them scale their potential user base and making purchases through their site more of a social experience. I’d be curious to see how many people land on Eventbrite’s page through a social media site. If it’s a high percentage, then the strategy of Eventbrite itself becoming a discovery platform may not work, since users are “discovering” their desired events off of the site. One alternative strategy would be to partner with Uber and opentable to help build out the experiences that generally accompany attending events. It will be interesting to see how Eventbrite plans to offer more differentiated services and maintain its network strength, especially as sites like Tilt become the standard for organizing smaller social gatherings between friends.

  2. Building on SDS’s comment, shouldn’t Eventbrite just partner with an existing entity to achieve this discovery element? I would think that the core competencies of being a world-class ticket seller are quite different from being a world-class discovery, social media player. If I was leading Eventbrite, I would have thought long and hard about selling to Facebook or someone else similar who clearly has the discovery part figured out and might be looking for a plug and play partner to complete transactions.

  3. I have a different understanding of Eventbrite’s direct network effects. With every additional purchaser / user, the site itself does not really become more valuable (compare this to the case of WhatsApp, for example). I would argue that in its current state as a ticket sales platform for smaller events, there are relatively weak direct network effects. In the future, if Eventbrite is able to become more of a discovery platform, I could see direct network effects becoming stronger. People like knowing what their friends are up to and like going to the same events as others in their network. If Eventbrite can avoid multi-homing by event sponsors, it might entice many more users and enhance the direct network effects it can enjoy.

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