Well, duh. The ticketing platform did a couple of things here other than shell out a lot of money for another company to get bigger. One, they beat out AEG and Live Nation’s bid to acquire TicketFly, which sets back their efforts to build a more robust ticketing service for their events. Two, they managed to subsume a company that was once heralded as an “Eventbrite killer.” Three, it was a show of company strength that should help them in their widely anticipated coming IPO.
It was only two years ago that Pandora acquired Ticketfly for $450 million, and now they’re offloading it again at a face value $250 million loss, which probably occurred after pouring millions into Ticketfly as well.
When they first bought Ticketfly, Pandora had big dreams about integrating concert ticketing into their streaming platform and consequently reducing friction between someone listening to a song and wanting to go see the band live.
That didn’t work out.
Winner and Loser: Ticketfly
Getting passed around in corporate mergers and acquisitions is never fun, but hopefully Eventbrite will be a better corporate steward than Pandora. The worst part is Eventbrite is probably going to let about 25% of Ticketfly’s staff go, around 150 to 200 people. For those who remain though, there might be brighter days ahead.
This whole debacle is a double-whammy to Pandora because its main competitor, Spotify, is doing the same thing Pandora wanted to do in putting together streaming and concert tickets. They’re doing it better, in partnership with AEG’s ticketing platform AXS.com. Spotify is building out capabilities like letting you know when your most-streamed artists are coming through town and selling you tickets.
A lot of this can be attributed to the major difference between Spotify and Pandora, the amount of choice you get in picking songs, which has given Spotify a more powerful dataset for recommendation algorithms. Unfortunately for Pandora, this is just another point to prove that Spotify’s product is better in the eyes of many consumers.
Winner: Live Nation
Even though Live Nation ended up not acquiring Ticketfly directly, it does open up the possibility now that Pandora, newly divested of its attempt to be in the ticketing business themselves, might be open to a partnership similar to what Spotify is doing. Live Nation has already lost ground to its main rival AEG because of the aforementioned deal AEG has with Spotify, so this could be a ripe opportunity to make that up.
Loser: Venue owners and promoters
While the biggest, this acquisition has not been Eventbrite’s only activity recently. Coupled with the acquisition of Ticketscript, an Amsterdam-based ticketing company, Eventbrite is clearly vacuuming up competitors. The loss of a particularly music-focused company like Ticketfly will particularly sting, as music venue owners and promoters see their options for selling tickets to their events increasingly consolidating into the hands of a few powerful companies.
The machinations of these companies unfortunately don’t address the main concerns of consumers and aren’t likely to as long as the onus isn’t on these companies to fix them. The ticketing business is still full of scalpers who hoover up tickets using bots and resell them for a profit. The consolidation of the industry only makes it easier unless companies address the issues head on. Will that happen? It doesn’t seems as if there is any inclination towards that yet.
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