Eventbrite’s Hartz hopes she’s found the ticket for a lasting company

Julia Hartz

Hartz started Eventbrite, an online ticketing platform, with her now-husband Kevin in 2006. Since its founding, the company has raised $140 million from firms like Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management and reached $2 billion in gross ticket sales this September. Entrepreneurship forced Hartz to appreciate candid and collaborative conversations. "I had to learn how to ask for help," she says. "Everyone always thinks it's brave to go out alone, but I think it's even braver to put yourself out there in front of others, and to figure out how to work together."
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Julia Hartz, co-founder of online ticket seller Eventbrite, tries not to waste a moment during her busy days of all-hands meetings, conference panels and evening work dinners.

“You have to prioritize your time,” she explains. “There is no greater, efficient species than a working parent. Full stop.”

Hartz, a former MTV executive with two little girls at home, would know. In 2005, she co-founded Eventbrite with husband Kevin, who dreamed up the idea for the company after realizing that there wasn’t a widely-accepted way for small groups to sell tickets online. Sure, there was Tickemaster, which sells tickets by the thousands for Beyoncé concerts, Raiders games and NASCAR races. But tickets for a startup party or tech conference? Not so much.

With Kevin as CEO and Julia handling day-to-day operations like hiring, Eventbrite has exploded. People have bought nearly $1 billion in tickets through its service in the past nine months and nearly $3 billion total since its founding. Eventbrite collects a commission on each ticket sold. Most of those selling tickets are small companies, tech conference organizers and party promoters.

Eventbrite, which has nearly $200 million in backing from investors like Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital and PayPal co-founder Keith Rabois, isn’t profitable. But profitability isn’t the point right now, says Julia. Like many ambitious start-ups, Eventbrite’s focus is on expanding quickly – which costs a lot of money.

To wit, Eventbrite has been on a tear – hiring nearly 150 employees worldwide over the last 12 months and acquiring businesses such as Lanyrd, a London-based conference listing service and another ticketing company in Argentina called Eventioz. And for good reason. Julia argues millenials are spending more on events like concerts and less on physical products. “Live experiences are actually becoming the new luxury good,” she says.

Meanwhile, Julia has more and more become Eventbrite’s public face, gracing the cover of Forbes earlier this year and making more public appearances. Her high-visiblity within tech also has the positive side effect of improving gender equality, an issue highlighted this March when prominent Github engineer, Julie Ann Horvath, resigned due to what she called a “toxic work environment.” Still, Hartz sees gender inequality as less and less of an issue in the Valley these days. “When I look at my two daughters, I don’t see them having any problems being the boss or the CEO of a corporation in some capacity,” Hartz explains. Indeed, Eventbrite’s 373 employees are an almost equal ratio of men-to-women, she said, which is a rarity in the technology industry.

As such, Hartz is more focused on making Eventbrite a company that will last. And while she and Kevin no longer have to deal with the worries associated with being an early-stage startup — Kevin used to sleep under the table of the company’s first offices, a shared workspace — the pair still have a lot of “uncharted territory” ahead, not the least of which, of course, includes making Eventbrite profitable. “I think that will be the biggest thing that I’ll miss some day: When we’re old and tired, and they kick us out when we’re 98,” chuckles Hartz. “I’ll be missing that constant stimulus and challenge of what’s next.”



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