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Ticketmaster buys into blockchain with Upgraded acquisition

The global market leader has acquired Bay Area start-up Upgraded, in the clearest indication yet that the live industry is bullish on blockchain's potential

By Jon Chapple on 18 Oct 2018


image © Upgraded Inc.

Ticketmaster today became the first major traditional live music industry player to invest in the much-hyped blockchain space, announcing it has acquired San Francisco-based ticketing start-up Upgraded.

Upgraded converts traditional tickets into secure, interactive digital assets protected by blockchain technology – a ‘distributed ledger’ database which permanently stores all transactions, best known for its use by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – providing event organisers/promoters with control over ticket distribution and protecting consumers against fraud.

The acquisition of Upgraded follows that of facial-recognition company Blink Identity in May, and sits alongside other recently launched technological solutions such as digital ticket architecture Ticketmaster Presence and anti-touting initiative Verified Fan. According to Ticketmaster, Upgrade’s platform combines blockchain tech with dynamic, encrypted barcodes to prevent fraud, and can be implemented without requiring a venue to replace existing access-control hardware.

“Ticketmaster is the unquestioned leader in live event ticketing and is the perfect platform for us to bring the unique promise of blockchain to millions of fans,” says Sandy Khaund, founder and CEO of Upgraded. “Upgraded leverages Blockchain to maximise trust for ticket holders, give control and flexibility to content owners and data to teams and performers. We’re proud of what we’ve built and are looking forward to working with the incredible team at Ticketmaster to help us scale.”

“Ticketmaster is constantly exploring emerging technologies, and there aren’t many that have the unique possibilities of blockchain”

Several other start-ups are busy developing their own blockchain-based ticket sales platforms, although the Upgraded acquisition marks the first time a company of Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s size has expressly declared its interest. Other ticketing platforms building their ticketing infrastructure on various blockchains include AventusBlockparty, BitTicket/Citizen Ticket, GUTS Tickets, Tracer, China’s Baidu and Russia’s Crypto.tickets.

Unlike several other competing platforms, Upgraded did not run a token sale, or initial coin offering (ICO), although it has raised $790,000 over two funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

“Ticketmaster is constantly exploring emerging technologies, and there aren’t many that have the unique possibilities of blockchain,” says Justin Burleigh, chief product officer at Ticketmaster North America. “We’re excited to have Upgraded join the team as we continue to focus on providing the world’s leading identity-based ticketing platform to fans, artists, and our clients.

“We think blockchain and Upgraded will continue our progress to improve ticketing and create a safer and more seamless experience.”

For an introduction to blockchain and how it can be effectively utilised for ticket sales, see IQ’s primer, written by Lyubomyr Nykyforuk of Softjourn.


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