Vendini & Other Ticket Sellers Add to Service on the Web

August 03, 2012

Online ticketing is gaining entry into a wider array of events and venues, fueling growth at several San Francisco Internet companies in the rapidly growing niche.

The trend was highlighted this month when Ticketfly, a 100-person service launched in 2008, said it had raised $22 million.

Also thriving in the city are Eventbrite Inc., a 200-person company which in June said it had crossed $1 billion in sales since 2006 and Vendini Inc., an 11-year-old firm that took no venture funding and is now on a $15 million annual run rate.

And San Francisco is home to TicketWeb, which Ticketfly’s founders sold in 1995 to Ticketmaster, the reigning giant of the ticketing industry.

“There’s definitely a lot of heat right now in the area,” said Mark Tacchi, president and CEO of Vendini, which has 90 employees, 60 in San Francisco.

Vendini, which is profitable, provides back-end services to other companies and has done less to promote its brand to consumers than others. It started with smaller general admission events and now has contracts to do ticketing for large clients, including the 80,000-seat Silverdome near Detroit. About half its business is in performing arts, with the bulk of the rest split between concerts, university and sporting events.

TicketWeb, which serves clubs and independent promoters, keeps a lean operation of only 15 employees in San Francisco, though it heavily leverages Ticketmaster’s infrastructure and support staff.

Venture-backed companies, meanwhile, are expanding, moving into diverse markets that overlap somewhat and are likely to do so more in the future.

Ticketfly, which has raised $37 million, doubled its staff in 2011 and now has 100 employees. The company recently added the ability to do online reserved seating, as Vendini has done for eight years, a move that CEO Andrew Dreskin said triples its potential market.

Ticketfly has historically been strong in music, recently touting its signing of the famed 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga., where the bands REM and the B52s got their starts. The company has also been expanding into sports events, food festivals, fairs and other attractions.

So-called “long-tail” events run by non-professionals are where Eventbrite has made a big splash since launching in 2006. The company has raised $78.1 million and has been expanding internationally of late, particularly in Europe from an office in London, where husband and wife co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz spent a month this summer.

While small- to mid-sized events remain Eventbrite’s core business, however, the company has been moving deeper into several verticals, including conferences, festivals, concerts and performing arts and endurance sports.