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WME investor GIC buys Eventbrite stake

Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC has acquired a 5% stake in Eventbrite.

According to a recent filing with the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission, the self-service ticketing firm has sold 3,813,791 shares, or 5.05% of the its class-A common stock, to GIC (Government of Singapore Investment Corporation), which is wholly owned by the sate of Singapore.

GIC joined forces with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2017 to invest a combined US$1 billion in WME-IMG (now Endeavor), acquiring roughly 8% of the agency group’s shares, while another Singaporean government-owned fund, Temasek, owns a stake in CAA.

“As restrictions on in-person gatherings eased during Q2 2021, Eventbrite’s creators and their audiences re-emerged in force”

According to the filing, which is signed by GIC senior vice-presidents Celine Loh Sze Ling and Diane Liang, 3,738,791 of the shares acquired by GIC have sole voting power, while the remaining 75,000 have shared voting power with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Eventbrite’s share price fell slightly, to $17.69, on news of the transaction, on 13 August, though it remains up around $8 year on year.

Earlier in August, Eventbrite reported a second-quarter net loss of $20.54 million, narrowing from -$38.59 million in Q2 2020. While it continues to face a “significant impact” from the coronavirus pandemic, paid ticket volume is picking up, the company said in its most recent earnings statement. “As restrictions on in-person gatherings eased during the second quarter of 2021, Eventbrite’s creators and their audiences re-emerged in force,” according to Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz.

 


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Eventbrite: ‘No evidence’ of vaccine scams in Florida

Ticketing firm Eventbrite, best known for its global self-service event platform and club ticketing business in the US, has said there is no evidence its platform is being used to scam people in Florida, where officials are employing it to book appointments for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Following reports of people setting up fake events on Eventbrite that charge a fee for vaccination slots, Florida legislators are fast-tracking a bill that would make it a felony (ie a serious crime) to target people with bogus event listings, reports Tampa’s ABC Action News. “We want to send a very clear message that if you do that, if you stand in the way of a vulnerable population and a vaccine that they want to get, we are coming for you,” says Chris Sprowls, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. “And when we do come for you, there will be handcuffs that will be involved.”

The use of Eventbrite is one of a number of novel methods local authorities in the US are using to get Covid-19 vaccines to citizens, with survey site SurveyMonkey and “companies like Google and Apple” also providing vaccine booking facilities, according to ABC News.

In Florida, Eventbrite has attracted the attention of the state’s attorney-general, Ashley Moody, who warned locals in a ‘consumer alert’ that scammers allegedly are using the platform “to pose as county health departments and take or attempt to take payments in exchange for Covid-19 vaccine appointments.”

“We have determined people mistakenly created new event listings when they meant to sign up for a time slot”

However, a spokesperson for the company says an internal investigation found no evidence of the scams Moody describes, with several unofficial event listings, some of which included a fee, the result of “user error” rather than fraudulent activity.

“Our team has thoroughly investigated and not found any evidence of vaccine registration events being created with the intent to scam people. We have confirmed the unofficial event listings in question, some which included a fee, were the result of user error. More specifically, we have determined people mistakenly created new event listings when they meant to sign up for a time slot.

“We recognise this has caused confusion and have published a guide on how to sign up for a time slot on Eventbrite. Additionally, we are continuing to closely monitor and remove any unofficial listings.

“We encourage anyone who finds potentially unofficial vaccine event listings on our platform to notify us. This resource helps people identify and report unofficial vaccination events, which can be done through our report this event feature, located at the bottom of every event listing on Eventbrite.

“Covid-19 vaccine distribution is a critical initiative, and we are actively exploring how our platform can best support the effort to increase access to vaccines.”

 


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Eventbrite acquires marketing platform ToneDen

Eventbrite has acquired ToneDen, a platform for automating social-media marketing and advertising for live events.

In a blog post, Tim Thimmaiah, CEO of ToneDen, reveals the company was acquired by Eventbrite in November following a more than three-year partnership between the two firms. “Joining forces with Eventbrite allows us to continue innovating on the best creator-facing marketing platform in the industry,” says Thimmaiah.

According to Yahoo! Finance, shares in the self-service ticketing specialist spiked nearly 7% on announcement of the news, reaching over US$15. At the time of writing, Eventbrite shares were worth $17.32.

“Looking ahead towards our next stage of growth, we’re excited to help the hundreds of thousands of wonderful event organisers on Eventbrite find, reach, and engage with their attendees without having to be marketing experts,” continues Thimmaiah.

“We’re excited to help event organisers find, reach, and engage with their attendees without having to be marketing experts”

“Now more than ever, event creators need ways to grow, understand, and monetise their audiences.

“With Eventbrite, we plan to bring our technology and expertise to help provide event creators with an all-in-one platform for their entire event lifecycle. As digital transformation accelerates the world around us, we believe ToneDen and Eventbrite will be able to help event organisers, big or small, build their communities and grow their businesses faster than ever before.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“I’m incredibly proud of, and humbled by, what the ToneDen team has accomplished and grateful for the creators, brands and businesses who have been our partners throughout our journey,” adds Thimmaiah. “We can’t wait to join Eventbrite and shape the future of events.”

 


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Eventbrite: 30% of ticket sales still for virtual events

Eight months on from the shutdown of nearly all live events, a third of ticket sales on Eventbrite are still for online experiences, according to the US-based ticketing/event-management company.

Even as major events return to markets in Asia and Australasia – and following a temporary return to semi-normality in Europe and North America over the summer – up to 30% of Eventbrite’s ticket volume in the third financial quarter (Q3) of 2020 involved virtual events, says the company’s CFO, Lanny Baker.

Speaking to investors during Eventbrite’s Q3 earnings call, Baker said the continued popularity of online events could point to a “structural” change in the business, even after a vaccine for Covid-19 becomes available.

“When the in-person events have recovered and people have moved from their computer screens back into the real world, we’ve seen that next shift back [to physical], but we’re still talking about 10%, 20%, 30% of ticket volume being for virtual events,” he explained. “Whereas pre-Covid, that number might have been 2%, 3% or 4%.

“So I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity and habit around online events. There are new creators [which were] not necessarily [in] the event marketplace in the past.”

“I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity … around online events”

This continued demand for virtual experiences hasn’t, however, affected ticket sales for physical events: the company reported in September that it saw paid ticket volume grow 17% in August alone, as more fans went to Covid-secure in-person shows.

Eventbrite, which has offices in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Spain and the Republic of Ireland, reported a 75% year-on-year decline in revenue, to US$21.8 million, in Q3 – an improvement on Q2, where the figure was just $8.4m.

The company says it has also achieved expense savings “ahead of plan” for its $100m cost-cutting scheme, announced in April, reducing net loss to $19.1m, compared to $30.1m in Q3 2019.

“The continued improvement in our results reflects creators’ ingenuity and their confidence in our platform to deliver when it matters most,” comments Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz. “Activity on our platform rebounded in the third quarter, as creators hosted more events than they did this time last year, and total consumer ticket volume began to approach pre-Covid levels.

“We believe that our platform is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of independent creators, helping them to grow their businesses and lead the recovery of live experiences.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Public live cos add nearly $6bn since March crash

The main publicly listed live entertainment companies have added US$5.75 billion – or nearly $1bn a month – to their collective value since the worst of the Covid-19-induced stock-market crash in March, new analysis reveals.

Combining the market capitalisations of Live Nation, CTS Eventim, DEAG, Time for Fun and Eventbrite, as well as a relevant percentage of Vivendi’s business, shows the six companies were worth nearly $6bn more on 21 September than 20 March, in spite of the six-month-and-counting shutdown of nearly all live experiences.

As in previous IQ coverage of live music’s (pre-coronavirus) stock-market performance, Live Nation Entertainment – the world’s biggest live entertainment business – is the biggest mover, growing its market cap by nearly 60% in the period analysed.

Worth $7.29bn on 20 March, with a share price of $33.97, Live Nation (LYV)’s market cap stood at $11.55bn six months later, with most financial analysts confident the concert behemoth will bounce back strongly post-pandemic. As of 9 September, of the 12 firms covering Live Nation stock, seven have assigned it a ‘buy’ rating, one a ‘strong buy’ and one a ‘hold’, with none recommending a ‘sell’.

While the recovery of Live Nation – which has made an estimated $600m in savings this year, believed to include widespread redundancies globally – is impressive, five of the six businesses included have rebounded strongly over the last six months, with only DEAG shares having declined in price as of 21 September.

Berlin-based Deustche Entertainment AG (LOUD), which trades on Frankfurt’s Xetra exchange, had around $11 million (€9.4m) shaved off its market cap after the value of its stocks fell from €3.48 on 20 March to exactly €3 on 21 September. As of the latter date, DEAG’s market capitalisation was €58.9m ($68.9m), down around 14% on €68.3m ($79.9m) six months previous.

Live Nation is the biggest mover, growing its market cap by nearly 60% in the period analysed

Yet DEAG stock, too, is strongly rated by market watchers: analysts’ ratings similarly lean heavily towards a ‘buy’, with even the most pessimistic financial observers giving the company’s stock a price target of €3.50 in the short term (while noting that DEAG should “return to pre-corona levels” by 2022).

Of the other four businesses, another German company, public pan-European concert and ticketing giant CTS Eventim, was the stand-out performer, growing its market cap more than $1bn by adding nearly €10 to its share price.

Compared to 20 March, when its share price was €31.78 and market cap €3.05bn, CTS Eventim (EVD) shares traded at €41.14 six months later, giving the company a market capitalisation of €3.95bn at the time of writing.

Brazil’s Time for Fun/T4F Entertainment (SHOW3) – the largest promoter in South America – has seen its value increase 42%, from R$131m ($23.8m) to R$186.1m ($33.8m), while US-based self-service and club ticketing specialist Eventbrite (EB) is up 61%, growing its market cap from $649.2m to $1.06bn in the same period.

French media conglomerate Vivendi (VIV), meanwhile, has seen its market cap rise from an estimated €20.9bn in March to €26.38bn on 21 September. The company’s Vivendi Village unit – which incorporates its live (Olympia Production, U Live, festivals and venues in France and Africa) and ticketing (See Tickets, Starticket, Paylogic) businesses – accounts for some 0.34% of the business: €26m in revenue, of €7.58bn total, per its H1 2020 report.

Many outside observers agree live music’s recovery will be complete by 2022

While it should be noted the industry is far from back to its pre-Covid-19 value – Live Nation stocks were once worth nearly $75, while Eventim shares hit a high of €60 in January – the rally bodes well for a sector often described as the first to close and last to reopen, and which has been hit particularly hard by the impact of the virus.

Additionally, the live music industry welcomed two newly public businesses – MSG Entertainment, spun off from the Madison Square Garden Company, and Warner Music Live/Umbrella Artists owner Warner Music Group, which floated in April and June, respectively – in the same period, and which would likely have pushed the $5.75bn figure even higher were those companies trading in March.

With so-called second lockdowns looming in many territories, it remains unclear how global markets will perform in the months ahead, as well as the effects, positive or otherwise, any volatility will have on live music stocks.

One thing, however, many outside observers seem to agree on is that live music’s recovery will be complete by 2022.

As IQ revealed earlier this month, financial consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is predicting a complete recovery by 2022, with the value of the live music market (public and private) set to reach $29.3bn – over $300m more than 2019’s $28.97bn – that year, while investment bank Goldman Sachs is similarly bullish, with its head of European media research, Lisa Yang, also heralding a return to normal in 2022.

Read PwC’s live music growth predictions here:

Live music down 64% this year – but will rebound in 2021


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Eventbrite upbeat as paid tickets increase 26%

Self-service ticketing specialist Eventbrite says it sold 26% more paid tickets to physical live events in August than July, demonstrating continued pent-up demand for safe in-person experiences.

In a September operating update for investors, the NYSE-traded company revealed total paid ticket volume grew 17% in August 2020, following a 25% increase from June to July. Year on year, sales are down 65% – an improvement on the 82% decline reported in the second quarter of 2020 (April–June).

“The growing activity on our platform reflects the enduring appeal of live events, as well as the ubiquity of the Eventbrite platform,” says Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julia Hartz (pictured).

“The growing activity on our platform reflects the enduring appeal of live events”

“More [event] creators are leveraging Eventbrite’s self-service platform to deliver engaging live experiences through both online events and a growing number of the smaller, safer in-person gatherings. We are inspired by the resilience and ingenuity of our creators and remain committed to helping them succeed through and beyond the challenges presented by Covid-19.”

EB’s share price has been on a steady incline since crashing in March, reaching a high of US$12.39 at press time, up from $5.86 on 3 April.

The San Francisco-headquartered firm laid off around 500 employees, many from its music division, in the early days of the pandemic as part of a $100m cost-cutting plan, but later affirmed its commitment to live music.

 


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Eventbrite investors settle lawsuit over shares drop

Aggrieved Eventbrite investors have agreed to settle a lawsuit they filed against the ticketing company, given the current issues facing the live entertainment sector due to Covid-19.

Last year, the shareholders alleged that the company made misleading statements at the time of the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in September 2018, following the impact of the Ticketfly integration and subsequent decline in Eventbrite stock.

The lawsuit alleged that Eventbrite misled potential buyers in its IPO registration statement which declared that the acquisition of ticketing platform Ticketfly “had a positive impact” on net revenue growth” in the third quarter of 2017.

The claimants also stated that the company failed to disclose that, at the time of IPO, the Ticketfly migration was progressing more slowly than stated, therefore delaying integration and negatively impacting growth.

The claimants purchased Eventbrite stock in the company’s IPO at US$23 a share which started declining on 7 March 2019, upon the release of Eventbrite’s annual financial results and the admission that the Ticketfly integration “will impact revenues in the short-term”. The share price continued to drop.

“With the company’s future uncertain, the prospect that settlement class members would recover anything looked dim”

The investors filed for damages with a class-action lawsuit but have recently negotiated a $1.9 million settlement, noting that the challenges faced by Eventbrite as a result of Covid-19 reduced the prospect of a better pay-out down the line, according to Law360.

They also noted that similar litigation against Eventbrite in the Californian state courts had also been dismissed, reducing chances of winning the lawsuit.

Their legal counsel told the judge: “Dimming the prospects of any recovery, during litigation, the world was struck by the worst pandemic it suffered since 1918 – particularly bad news for a company whose business is helping customers plan live events”.

“With claims against Eventbrite dismissed in state and federal court”, they went on, “and the company’s future uncertain, the prospect that settlement class members would recover anything looked dim. Yet, lead counsel nonetheless were able to negotiate the $1.9 million settlement”.

And while a lower sum than originally hoped, that cash “will nonetheless prove meaningful for settlement class members”.

Eventbrite recently released its earnings report for the second fiscal quarter of 2020, with net revenue for the period dropping more than 90%.  The report also revealed that the company’s net revenue was just $8.4 million for the quarter, down from $80.8 million in Q2 2019.

For the same period, Eventbrite chalked up a $38.6 million net loss, up sharply from the $14.8 million loss from the previous year. Eventbrite also reported that their advanced payout balance is now $244 million, reduced by $111 million since March.

 


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Eventbrite facing legal action over refund policy

Eventbrite has become the latest ticket seller to be hit with a lawsuit over its alleged non-payment of refunds for cancelled or postponed events.

In a consumer class-action complaint filed on 4 June in the US district court for northern California, ticket buyers Sherri Snow, Anthony Piceno and Linda Conner accuse Eventbrite of “deceptive practices relating to its sale of live events tickets and its refusal to provide refunds for live events that have been canceled, rescheduled and/or postponed.”

According to the plaintiffs, by “shift[ing] responsibility” for issuing cash refunds to event organisers, Eventbrite is in violation of section 22507 of California’s Business and Professions Code, which requires that the “ticket price of any event which is canceled [sic], postponed, or rescheduled shall be fully refunded to the purchaser by the ticket seller upon request.”

“After the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancelation or postponement of most large events and public gatherings, Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds for canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled events, including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed,” reads the complaint.

“Instead, Eventbrite has tried to shift responsibility to event organizers, allowing them to refuse refunds for cancellations, postponements and rescheduled events.”

“Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds … including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed”

Secondary ticketing platforms StubHub and SeatGeek are both battling similar class-action suits in the US, with the former also the target of legal action in Canada.

“At best,” the complaint explains, “Eventbrite has urged some organizers to ‘make good’ when events are canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled” between 15 March and 15 May.

This, the plaintiffs say, does not go far enough, because it allows promoters to offer credit or vouchers for future events “no matter when in the future the event might occur or how much or when the credit might apply”.

While many European concert organisers have been empowered to offer ticket vouchers instead of cash refunds, no legislation of the sort exists in California or the wider US.

Among other forms of redress, the trio seek monetary damages, an order that Eventbrite will cease the “unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices” alleged in the complaint, and legal costs, to be determined at a jury trial.

News of the lawsuit, revealed in the company’s latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), comes as Eventbrite records a month-on-month increase in ticket sales for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March.

 


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Eventbrite IPO investor lawsuit dismissed

Eventbrite has beaten a class-action lawsuit that accused it of misleading investors at the time of its September 2018 flotation.

As previously reported, the suit – filed on behalf of claimants who purchased Eventbrite stock in the company’s initial public offering (IPO) at US$23 a share – alleges the ticketing company deceived potential buyers in its IPO registration statement by declaring that the acquisition of Ticketfly “had a positive impact on net revenue growth” in the third quarter of 2017, when in fact the migration was progressing more slowly than stated, delaying integration and negatively affecting growth.

San Francisco-based Eventbrite denied the allegations, its lawyers calling the case without merit and saying the complaint contains no “facts suggesting that Eventbrite made any false or misleading statements of material fact”.

On Tuesday (28 April), California judge Edward Davila ruled in favour of Eventbrite, according to Law360, granting the company’s bid to dismiss the suit in its entirety, while giving the investors a chance to amend their complaint by 24 June to make it more specific.

Judge Edward Davila ruled in favour of Eventbrite, granting the company’s bid to dismiss the suit in its entirety

“Plaintiffs’ vague allegations that the Ticketfly acquisition was ‘delayed’, ‘costly’ and that the integration missed ‘key features’ are insufficient to show that defendants ‘affirmatively’ created an impression of a state of affairs that differs in a material way from reality”, said Davila, adding: “In fact, a closer inspection of Eventbrite’s SEC filings appears to belie plaintiffs’ claims that the company projected that the Ticketfly integration was going ‘smoothly’”.

The suit was filed following a plunge in Eventbrite’s share price, from a high of over $32 to less than $16 in June 2019.

In common with other live entertainment companies, Eventbrite shares have plummeted further as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with stocks trading at just shy of $10 at press time, up from a low of $5.86 on 3 April.

 


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Eventbrite confirms commitment to live

In a month that saw San Francisco-based event management and ticketing company Eventbrite lay off 45% of its staff, including many in its music division, the company’s founders have stated that they are not intending to pivot away from music.

The layoffs, which affected 500 employees, form part of a $100 million coronavirus cost-cutting plan and were carried out due to “the unprecedented shutdown of the global economy”, according to Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz.

Similarly to other live music executives, including heads of Live Nation, CAA, Endeavor, UTA and Paradigm, Hartz is foregoing her salary for the year to save costs.

In response to reports that the company’s music division was particularly hard hit by the money-saving measures, Hartz told Billboard: “We are not planning to exit music and we’re committed to serving independent creators,” adding, “can you imagine our country without independent live music venues?”

“We are not planning to exit music and we’re committed to serving independent creators”

Hartz states that Eventbrite is using this time to “double down” on improving its platform, adding that the company “has always had a self-service ethos”.

In 2019, almost 950,000 event organisers used the Eventbrite platform, in a year that saw net revenue increase by 12% from the year before to $327m.

The company’s 2017 acquisition of former competitor Ticketfly aimed to create a “powerhouse” for independent venues and promoters, although Eventbrite encountered some issues relating to the integration of the platform, which was completed late last year.

Ticketfly co-founder Andrew Dreskin, stepped down from his role as Eventbrite Music president in May 2019 and stayed on in an advisory role, although reports suggest he may have now departed the company completely, following a pitch to buy back Ticketfly’s assets.

Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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