The last time Fast Company caught up with the folks at Eventbrite, the online ticketing service was celebrating the opening of its first international office in London. Now, it has two more benchmarks to be proud of: It issued its 50 millionth ticket, and CEO and cofounder Kevin Hartz tells Fast Company that the company has hit a half-billion-dollar gross run-rate based on weekly sales.
For the uninitiated, Eventbrite aims to disrupt the online ticketing industry, which Hartz describes as “one of the last bastions of e-commerce that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation.” It looks to accomplish this by making online ticketing available for all events, no matter how big or small, while cutting down on the exorbitant service fees charged by traditional outlets like Ticketmaster, once considered the “most hated brand in America.”
While Eventbrite isn’t the only company working to change the way we buy and sell tickets, Hartz says he has his sights set on the kind of massive events giants like Ticketmaster have been traditionally expected to handle. For example, last September, Eventbrite scored one of its largest events yet when it ticketed a Black Eyed Peas concert in Central Park. It’s also handling ticket sales for New York City’s Governor’s Ball Music Festival this June, featuring big names like Beck and Modest Mouse.
But wrenching business away from old mainstays–even ones people love to hate–is no easy task.
“A ticketing service has to be able to withstand the enormous amount of traffic that comes on very quickly,” Hartz says, referencing a recent fiasco that occurred when organizers behind the Burning Man Festival tried to implement a fairer ticketing method to cut down on scalpers, but ended up crashing servers and leaving an estimated 75% of longtime participants ticketless.
In addition to handling larger events and expanding its international presence, Eventbrite is focusing data resources on transforming itself into the Pandora or Netflix of social events. “We have a data services team that’s working on algorithmic recommendations,” says Hartz. “So much like Netflix gives movie recommendations or Pandora gives music recommendations, Eventbrite will algorithmically deliver recommendations for great events.”
So how did Eventbrite celebrate its latest milestones? “There’s been a lot of cheering and clapping lately,” Hartz says, describing the 14 60-inch LCDs around the office that display various live metrics. If the rest of Eventbrite’s 2012 is anything like its January and February, we can expect a lot more cheering and clapping, and not just from Eventbrite’s offices, but from Ticketmaster-haters around the world.
[Image: Mat Hayward via Shutterstock]