Yes, the book is fun. Yes, Malcolm Gladwell has an entertaining writing style. “Outliers” points out some interesting facts and figures. It tells the extraordinary story of child prodigy Bill Gates and his road to found one of the greatest companies in our history. It shows you the the unusual circumstances that drove Robert Oppenheimer to the leading position in probably the biggest science project in human history: Project Manhattan. Many other stories follow and Gladwell points to a simple truth: context is everything.
The big idea behind “Outliers” is that nothing matters more than the context. There is no individual motivated enough to rise against the odds and our usual “rags to riches” stories are usually no more than fiction.
Bill Gates would not have succeeded were it not for a series of fortunate events that led him to be one of the few (probably 50) people in the world having access to the technology he used to develop his programming skills.
The 10 000 hours
Add 10 000 hours (Gladwell points out that nothing great is ever achieved without at least 10 000 hrs of practice) to the opportunities someone like Bill Gates had, a lot of self-determination, a strong individual and you get a success story. The point is that we should always look for the details that make up the context.
Such details seem visible in the Beatles’ success as well. Were it not for the time spent in Hamburg performing over 1000 hours live in less than 2 years (most than many bands play live in their entire career) the Beatles would not have had the showmanship, stamina or apparent innate talent that made them probably the biggest band in history.
Is high IQ an indicator of future success?
The book shows what talent or a high IQ can do for an individual. Nothing, basically. In the early 20th century a psychologist named Lewis Terman searched for gifted children, with an IQ of over 135. His “Termites” as the group would later be called were followed throughout their life. Terman tracked their path through life and had seen that theier high IQ was not necessarily an indicator of success in professional life. The adult “Termites” group had an impressive array of accomplishments. However – not all of them. It seemed that a certain “C” group was not very successful. As Terman put it, their lives turned out “disappointing”.
Gladwell outlines the things that made some of the “Termites” successful and others not. It was their upbringing, their social and economic background. Basically if you were to be born in an educated, high income family, you had great chances to become successful. If you had the misfortune to be born in a family where you and your brothers were constantly abused by an alcoholic stepfather, as was the case with Chris Langan, your chances to succeed in our society would dramatically drop.
Outliers – fun to read
Malcolm Gladwell bring several stories together in order force a connection between what we, as society, call success and the context that led to said success. Some of these connections may seem far fetched and sometimes they are. However, the book makes for an entertaining read.
“Outliers” is neither genius nor brilliant. It’s fun and interesting. It gives you some hard data you can show off when meeting your friends over beer but the fact is you will probably forget what was it about 10 months after you’re done reading it. When time’s limited I would rather suggest Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”. It’s fun, well written and you’ll still know what’s it about 2 years after you’ve read it.
In a recent outlook on China’s eCommerce Evolution, Brent Cohen outlines the astonishing evolution we might be missing.
In 2012 China had a 66.5% growth rate and registered RMB 1,2 trillion ($197 billion) in eCommerce transactions. Cohen says an expected RMB 4 trillion ($655 billion) increase by 2020 is a “conservative” estimate.
That shouldn’t be too surprising for anyone not completely blind to outside-US eCommerce. Although US still leads the way both in terms of market size and per-capita spending, China is catching up fast. It’s main assets:
it’s the biggest market in terms of ecommerce shoppers in the world (242 million people)
it has a 6.3% eCommerce share of total retail (US only has 5%)
it fills a gap between the large territory the country has and the relatively small coverage classical retail stores provide. Online retail in China provides a coverage of 51% whilst the brick-and-mortar retail – only 13%
It was 1999. Only three years have passed since Steve Jobs returned to Apple. Britney Spears was climbing the charts with “Baby one more time” and engineers at Apple were a few months into launching the Mac OS 9. They would dub it “The Best Internet Operating System Ever”. It was a visionary product and an awesome precursor to today’s Internet-enabled operating systems.
Unlike its direct competitor, Microsoft, Apple had a simpler way of shipping its operating systems. They would either come pre-installed on purchased computers or subjected to a standard $99 upgrade fee.
“[…] Steve provided some details about how the advertising would work. At systems start-up, the user would see a sixty-second commercial. This ad could be regularly changed via updates from Apple’s servers. Throughout the rest of the OS, ads would appear in places where they had the most relevance. For example, if the print dialogue box indicated that you were running low on printer ink, you might see an ad from Epson with a link to its store – so you could buy some ink right then and there”.
The consensus was the main ad, the one running at systems start, would be a premium spot for top-knotch companies. Those Steve admired, say BMW and Nike. Once the ad started running , some system functions would be suspended so the user had to see the whole ad.
Apple engineers and staff were psyched about the idea and they loved the fact that such a new interface could let users try the OS and buy it whenever they felt like upgrading. Apple even registered the patent for this, listing Steve Jobs as the main inventor. Fortunately this system never went public and Apple went on to build its success and later on give out the Maverick OS upgrade for free, but that’s a story for another post.
Apple thought about it, Google and Amazon did it.
Apple was not the only company that thought about the ad-supported OS, but it was the first to seriously consider it.
For starters – like most smartphone users you’ve heard about Android. It’s the most popular mobile OS (or at least the most used). It’s free and it helps Google leverage on mobile ads. So much that it Google now takes in about half of all mobile ads revenue.
Google’s other venture into ad-supported OS is Chrome OS / Chromium OS – the web OS that has Google at its center. And Google’s Ads.
Yeah, both Google and Apple thought about an ad-supported OS. The time-frame, however, is pretty important. Apple thought about the ad-supported OS, it nearly implemented it and ditched it. An year later (2000) Google launches AdWords. After yet another 5 years (2005) Google buys Android. 6 more years passed until Google launched its Chromebooks in 2011.
Amazon, the king of online retail, thought this is a great idea also.It started using it on its Kindle readers in 2011. Later on the Kindle Fire was subsidized through ads. The ad-supported device / OS seemed so good that Amazon didn’t actually bothered to built no-ads versions. Or talk about it.
Apple’s “say no” culture lead to dumping the ad-supported Mac OS
Fortunately Apple scraped the idea and later on figured out an way to give the Mac OS for free (it’s doing pretty well selling apps and music). Its focus on delivering a great user experience finally won. It was Probably Steve Jobs who remembered his own words, spoken at the 1997 Apple World Developers Conference:
Event ticket sales is no joke. The market makes up for 70% of sports revenue and up to 60% of music and film revenue. Events, big or small, bring people together. We are social beings and we really like to get close to each other and enjoy life together. Throughout the ages people have gathered around gladiators and actors, in ancient Rome. They cheered for their favorite knights during the Middle Ages and now – everything’s available. Even Justin Bieber.
As the world grew smaller, we now can quickly join a local tweet meet or buy tickets to Madonna’s concert or the Superbowl. With so many events and so little time a few companies evolved into (sometimes) friendly electronic helpers. Tickets are bought online and three models have evolved to cater to our needs.
Throughout this entertaining and information packed ebook you’ll find out which are these three proven and dominant business models. You’ll get an idea of how big the market is, who are the main players and how did they make it to the spotlight. You’ll also get a graphical understanding of business models, information related to revenue and funding. Let’s first have a look at the market.
Ticket sales provide the financial backbone to any company in the event organizing and management business. In 2013 the top 100 movies grossed approximately $10 billion, Madonna’s 2012 MDNA tour alone grossed $305 million and another $75 million in merchandise sales, making her the highest paid musician. The NFL brings in an annual revenue of $9.5 billion (second in line is baseball, with “just” $7 billion in 2012).
Ticket sales generate roughly 60 to 70% of any given sports revenue, and 40 to 60 % for the music and film industry. The rest is split between sponsorships, endorsements and merchandise, but these too are dependent on ticket sales figures, a clear indicator of popularity and reach.
Ticket sales have been transformed, like any other industry, by the internet and several business models appeared during the dot.com boom. Only three survived and thrived. Let’s have a look at these models and the companies that used them to dominate the ticket sales market, starting with number 1: the ticket retailer.
The ticket retailer
Much like a conventional goods retailer, the ticket retailer is the middleman between event organizers and event attendees. Ticket retailers buy bulk and sale “en detail”. The industry sports an wide variety of competitors: there’s Ticketmaster and …. errr … well that’s pretty much it, as Ticketmaster is the biggest company on the market and virtually a monopoly.
There are of course smaller companies but the big venues are sold through Ticketmaster or Ticketmaster satellite companies such as GetMeIn or TicketsNow. If you do intend to take on Ticketmaster, as the new ticket retailer on the market, here’s what you need to consider:
The components of a ticket retail business
The main things you need to consider are:
ticket partners / suppliers: think supply. Although Ticketmaster has it all covered up as the parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, “owns” roughly 200 artists (such as Jay-Z, Madonna, U2), you’ll need your tickets. Start thinking about brushing shoulders with concert organizers, sports managers and such. These people will be those supplying you with the product: tickets.
a ticket shop: once you get a hold on those tickets, you’ll need to sell them. Much like a ticket – like Amazon, you need a shop where people can register and buy tickets
ticket outlets: if you’re really going to go against the big boys, think about this – Ticketmaster has a wide network of ticket outlets that lets it quickly distribute tickets offline, as well as online
fulfillment centers: just like other products, tickets need to be packaged and sent to customers. Each of these fulfillment centers needs to be equipped with printing machines that handle needed security.
the market: people will only buy from you if they know you exist and as such you’ll need to think about investing in marketing and advertising.
Last week we’ve had a look at world’s top 5 ticket sales and event management companies. To put things in perspective, below you’ll find an infographic showing some of the facts and figures you might not now about the leaders and challengers in the ticket sales market.
The infographic focuses on three companies – StubHub, Eventbrite and Ticketmaster. Beauties and the beast. Things you’ll find below: info regarding the business model, founding dates, growth numbers and such.
France surely is a culturally rich country. Unfortunately, when it comes to the economy – things are not really blooming. Part of that issue is the state’s ever-increasing interventionism. The country now has a project aimed at slashing development of web libraries. And by web libraries I mean Amazon.
The french Senate has voted a ban on Amazon’s free shipping on books. The free-shipping is frowned upon in France, as the policy is contravening the Lang Law. Simply put the law, named after Jack Lang, states that publishers set a fixed price to any book. Retailers can afterwards discount the book up to 5%, but no more. The reason for this policy to be so deeply ingrained is that it supports the 3500 bookstores in France. It is a “part of our cultural heritage“, as conservative lawmaker and law sponsor Christian Kert states.
So what is Amazon guilty of? Apparently the company is using the 5% discount AND offers free shipping. Isn’t this absolutely terrifying? The good people of France can’t let that happen, now can they?
The bill passed, Amazon is forced to stop offering free shipping
Put forward by the centre-right opposition UMP party, the bill passed by the senate this month. A near-universal pro vote assured the bill will stand and soon Amazon and others will be forced to drop the free shipping.
The “Anti-Amazon Law” as it is informally referred to, is rumoured to be a payback for the company’s decision of setting up its fiscal headquarter in Luxembourg, to avoid french taxes. It is also part of an increasing wave of what some might call “discrimination” against american companies. Both Amazon and Google have been having their fair share of legal issues with France and they are constantly under fiscal audit.
The Anti-Amazon law is but a symptom of a state incapable of holding onto talent and encouraging innovation
While this particular law has drawn a lot of attention, it’s but a symptom of a growing problem in France – the socialist / interventionist state. Things seem pretty grim there. Taxes under socialist leader Francois Hollande grew to upwards 75% for high earners. This caused the mass emigration of talented high earners and companies historically providing for the state’s lavish expenses.
This article in Newsweek quickly went viral as it shows the people’s distaste with the way the country is managed. Business are forced to pay taxes, rather than being encouraged to innovate and develop. Talented entrepreneurs and professionals are driven abroad, rather than being encouraged to stay and help the country recover. Still a large group of people, heavily relying on social care, heavily resisting change, do support the government’s actions.
A deeply iconic example of France’s resistance happened january the 13th. Some of the cabbies in Paris attacked an Uber car, breaking the glass and slashing the tyres. The reason – cabbies were not happy with the new taxes and the Uber-like apps that caused unwanted competition. Inside the cab – Eventbrite founder and one of those talented professionals leaving the country to find success, Renaud Visage. The old France meets the new France. Violence ensues.
The country is also pushing for increasing regulations in the EU against internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, instead of pushing for increasing regulation to foster innovation and economic development. The country’s inability to adapt and evolve in this new age can pose serious threats to the EU itself. As France still has plenty of negotiation power, it might push further for a rigid European Union, an inward looking, scared empire that might not make it very well into the next century.
Long gone are the days people would wait in line to buy tickets. Conferences, plays, movies, sports events – they all have one thing in common – the business model implies selling tickets and organising the event. With innovative solutions event managers and venue owners can now leverage the power of cloud solutions, CRMs, mobile apps and a bunch of other buzzwords.
In this post you’ll get a look at the champion and the challengers. The market is split between marketplaces (such as StubHub), ticket retailers (some of which are rather large – see Ticketmaster) and solutions providers, such as Xing Events.
Let’s start with number 5 and count down to the king of the hill:
Oveit is an innovative take on ticket sales and event management. It is feature packed and allows event planners to publish events and sell tickets on their own website.
By using an embedded technology, Oveit allows event organizers to work with a fully functional ticketing and event management app in minutes, right on their website. Some of its features are:
simple event setup and implementation – copy-paste implementation or click to publish to Facebook
direct payments (connecting a PayPal account allows event organizers to receiving payments instantly)
free service for free events
customized registration forms
interactive badge design application
multiple options packed in one ticket (entry, beverages, tshirts – you name it)
Tickets are automatically issued on purchase and they are scanned using mobile apps (so no need for costly scanners). One particular piece of technology is what Oveit calls multiple access. It makes it simple to sell multi-day tickets, pack multiple perks and synchronize data between mobile scanning apps.
Oveit key takeaways
Oveit allows event planners to install ticket sales on their own websites or Facebook pages by just copy-ing and pasting an embed code
Payments flow from attendee to the organizers. No interruption needed, right?
It packs all the right tools in one simple to use interface
Though still a startup, it is the best choice on this list for mid-sized event organizers. By the way – creating a free account takes around 5 seconds.
4. Xing Events (Former Amiando)
The company formerly known as Amiando was purchased in 2010 by Xing. Later on it was rebranded Xing Events. It’s worth mentioning that it was probably not a great exit for the company. Rumor has it that the €10 million paid for Amiando was not at all satisfying for early investors. Then again the company seems to be doing great in the last three years since the purchase.
Xing itself is not an overly popular company. It is a competitor to LinkedIn and that is a tough spot to be in. Being a german company they are doing pretty well in Germany. Zee Germans make up for 76% of Xing’s traffic. 90% of it’s traffic comes from german speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).
It seems the joint venture took the best of worlds. In the last three years since the acquisitions, Xing, the social network, has been providing less value to Amiando than Amiando has been providing to Xing. Some fairly popular conferences organize their events and ticket sales using Amiando /Xing Events. One of them is Le Web, probably the most popular tech conference in Europe.
Xing Events’ best features are its integrated ticket sales / mobile app / entry management solution. It allows its users to create event websites, customized ticket shops and process payments.
The product is now an end-to-end solution for event management and ticket sales and it’s growing fast, allowing Xing to expand its presence outside Europe.
Amiando Key Takeaways
Amiando was purchased by Xing in 2010 and has been growing steadily
It is now an end-to-end solution for event planning and ticket sales
The company acts as a payment processor / collector for ticket sales and charges a standard fee of approximately €1 / visitor + ~6% of ticket cost (registration fee + payment processing fee)
StubHub, now a subsidiary of Ebay, is the world’s largest marketplace for secondary market tickets. It was founded in 2000 by Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, former investment bankers.
From the largest ticket marketplace in the US it quickly grew into world’s largest ticket marketplace, now serving US, UK and Canada. It is now the go to place for anyone looking into selling and buying tickets for sports events , concerts, theater and entertainment events.
After being featured in 2006 in Fortune 500’s fastest growing companies, StubHub was quickly purchased by Ebay for a reported $310 million . The company has now over 1250 employees and it’s expanding its operations quickly to keep up with growth. The mothership, Ebay, is actually forwarding ticket sellers to StubHub, in an effort to consolidate the market.
Interestingly, on of StubHub’s competitor, Viagogo, a company that has so far raised $65 million, was founded in 2005 by Eric Baker. Sounds familiar? It should. He’s one of the two guys that founded StubHub.
StubHub Key Takeaways
StubHub is the largest ticket marketplace for sports events, theaters, concerts and entertainment events
It was founded in 2000 and acquired in 2007 by Ebay for $310 million
It’s present in the US, UK and Canada
Eventbrite is a self-service platform for managing and marketing events, selling tickets promoting events across social networks. It allows event managers to promote events and attendees to find these events and buy tickets.
The company was founded by Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz back in 2006. Legend has it that after the two got engaged (notice the “Hartz”?) Julia moved to the Bay Area and helped setup the company . The platform was developed by Renaud Visage, current CTO and third co-founder. At the time the company was just a startup, Renaud was the only developer so for one year he developed, designed and maintained the platform.
Years later Renaud is still the CTO of Eventbrite. He is generous enough to provide those in the lookout for a roadmap to an $1billion company. Technically speaking. Here it is bellow:
In 2013 the company reported a total of $2 billion in total ticket sales, with $500 millions in the last 6 months. The company actually sold more in the past 6 months than it did in its first five years.
How did that happen – how could such a growth happen so fast? Two words: global expansion. Eventbrite started in the US but it’s now available in 7 languages and used in 179 countries.
“We… are ready to put even more power into our global presence” said Julia Hartz – Eventbrite President
Eventbrite has also acquired some companies on its way to the big payday (expect something big with this company). Eventioz and London-based Lanyrd were both acquired in 2013, after Eventbrite secured a $60 million investment, led by Tiger Investment Global. The reason? Same as above – Global Expansion. Both companies listed above are doing great in the global presence department. Eventioz is an event planning and ticket sales leader in South-America. Lanyrd is a great resource for anyone looking into adding small and medium events such as “conferences, workshops, unconferences, evening events with talks, conventions, trade shows and so forth“.
Eventbrite Key Takeaways
Eventbrite is now the fastest growing mid-size events management platform
Its growth has been vastly accelerated in the past year
25% of its total sales up to date happened in the last 6 months
Given the new investment, its fast growth and global expansion – expect something big coming up in 2014-2015. My bets are on an IPO/large acquisition deal. Maybe even trying to take on …
1. The King of the Ticket Hill: Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster is the granddaddy of all ticket sales and event marketing companies. It’s been founded in … get this … 1976. It’s the oldest and biggest company on the list. It has paid $388million for its three latest acquisitions, Front Line Management, SLO Ltd and Ticketsnow . That figure is 2.7 times bigger than Eventbrite’s total funding to date ($140million).
The company is the king of the hill when it comes to ticket sales for concerts. In 2010 it merged with Live Nation to create Live Nation Entertainment. Maybe you haven’t heard about the company but you’ve definitely heard about its operations. Besides its creepy “One nation under music” tagline, the company sports some of the most popular artists in the world.
The company manages artists, merchandise, tours and ticket sales for a bunch of artists you may have heard of: Jay-Z, Madonna, Beatles, U2, Justin Timberlake and more. Among them – this year’s media sensation: Miley Cyrus.
On the company board sits mr. Greg Maffei, a seemingly not very important person, as he seems not worthy enough for his own Wikipedia page. He is, however, worthy of being the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment AND president of Liberty Media. Just as with LNE – you might not be very familiar with the company – but you do know its subsidiaries. Among them: Associated Press, Barnes & Noble, Time Warner, Viacom and others. Mr. Maffei seems to also be a pretty hard working guy: In 2012 he was the 3rd best payed executive in the US Media ($391mill). You may want to have a look at his payment sources (see previous link).
So that’s where Ticketmaster hangs around. With the big guys. It has the backing it needs, it has its ticket sales outlets, it has two fulfilment centers in Texas and West Virginia. It has it all. So much that in 1995 Perl Jam accused Ticketmaster of excersing “a monopoly over ticket distribution and used its market power to gouge consumers with excessive service fees.“ [see source]. The Justice Department, of course, cracked down on Ticketmaster’s unlawfully practices … oh wait… it didn’t.
The Justice Department abruptly dropped the investigation without further notice. Of course that was a great decision for Ticketmaster. At the time the JD had its Antitrust resources stretched thin as it was investigating another company – Microsoft. Guess who owned 80% of Ticketmaster at the time? Well if it wasn’t Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Ticketmaster is still the leader after a not so glorious past. Its practices are often frowned upon. Scratch that – Ticketmaster is actually one of the most hated companies in the US, its competitors are catching up and the company hadn’t had a stellar year in 2013. The company is a leader in its field. A hated, feared, sieged leader and it is a matter of time until it loses supremacy.
Ticketmaster is the largest company in ticketing and event management
It’s part of a very large conglomerate of businesses
It has a shady past and a gloomy future
Competitors will soon catch up
So these are the top 5 ticket sales and event management companies. There are, of course, others out there but this is a pretty good place to start if you want to get an understanding of ticket sales and event management industry.