ZURBsoapbox is a hidden gem event

Not sure how I’ve come to know about ZURBsoapbox events, but I decided to go to my first one a few weeks ago.  Why you might ask (or not).  Well, 1) it’s located in Campbell which is 15 minutes away from me, 2) the speaker was Kevin Hartz, CEO of Eventbrite (Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that I buy a lot of local event tickets from), and 3) FREE LUNCH!  The ZURB office is quite small which lends for some intimate discussions.  I will be returning to more ZURBsoapbox events.

I arrived a bit late, but got a chance to grab some lunch and meet one person, an IT guy at a startup which got gobbled up by an online videoconferencing company (hint: rhymes with ripe).  Soon after, Kevin Hartz started his talk.  The funny part is that I didn’t realize Eventbrite had male cofounders since Women 2.0 always spotlighted Julie Hartz, cofounder and wife of Kevin.

Kevin touched upon his earlier days and how he got involved with PayPal and YouTube.  I liked hearing the who’s who of Silicon Valley in his stories, but more importantly he had really good take aways.  If someone came to me saying that they wanted to do online ticketing, I probably wouldn’t think it would fly because of Ticketmaster, but now we have Eventbrite.  Eventbrite is very well known in the Silicon Valley and continues to grow.  I expect to see many great things from this company.  Keep a watch out!


  • Friends with Peter thiel, most of PayPal mafia are conservative, says he’s the token liberal friend
  • ConnectGroup – developed relationship with a Hilton general mgr in the south bay, then he became an advisor for Connect, got them into a few other hotels
  • Basis of PayPal, people will pay a premium for moving money fast, logo started showing up on eBay auctions
  • Started Xoom, competes with western union, send money online and disperse cash via local international banks
  • Tip: Netflix is extremely well run company, very quantitative using metrics, disciplined in how much they spend
  • Xoom and Eventbrite are extremely repetitive like/aka subscriptions
  • Slew of Eventbrite-like companies , focused on making it easy for anyone to start selling tickets and organizing events, addressing longtail, 25% of business outside the US
  • Tip: don’t lose sight of core business
  • Xoom is a classic TAM, investors like Sequoia like to see these, Western Union has 20% of TAM
  • For Eventbrite, addressing longtail market was a leap of faith
  • Tip: If you want to go into a market where you are unsure, bootstrap to get a sense of whether there’s a massive opportunity
  • Invested in YouTube, it launched as a dating website, seeded craigslist ads for women to post videos
  • Eventbrite doesn’t do reserve searing but rolling it out, business translates really well in the international space
  • Tip: follow path of least resistant
  • They are ideal for festivals, sold 62% more than Ticketmaster for warp tour festivals
  • Creeping up to tackle ticketmaster but it won’t be overnight, want to built great technology and relationships not with backroom deals
  • Tip: Lock in enterprise customers incrementally, if you stretch too far then you just pull back, when you start doing custom work or bend from your core values, that’s your litmus test
  • Went to friends who held events and had them try it out
  • Tip: get alpha and beta customers then find out how customers find out about you organically
  • Saw up surge of traffic from Facebook, built tools to make it easier to share, now it’s #1 source of traffic
  • Eventbrite’s event discovery is broken, get a lot of comments on how to improve this like a friend or Netflix recommendation, they really need to build this out, primarily focused on event organizers now addressing users more
  • Tip: Feels companies should go Public earlier than later, quarter after quarter companies are transparent and accountable
  • Could go IPO next year, wants to be around 30 yrs, being public helps
  • Eventbrite is hiring, contact Kevin@Eventbrite.com

Kevin’s bio on EventBrite.com:

Kevin Hartz is Co-Founder & CEO of Eventbrite, a company changing the way events come together online, and happen offline. Kevin was previously Co-Founder and CEO of Xoom Corporation, an international money transfer company, servicing more than 40 countries worldwide. Xoom is backed by Sequoia CapitalNEAFidelity Ventures, Stanford University, and Peter Thiel.

Kevin began his career as a product manager and later co-founded ConnectGroup, a start-up providing high-speed Internet access to the hotel industry. ConnectGroup was acquired by Lodgenet (NASDAQ: LNET).

Kevin holds a BA and BS from Stanford University, as well as an MA from Oxford University (University College).

He has been an active early stage investor and advisor to start-ups including PayPalGeniFriendsterTripItFlixsterAdnectarYammer,TokBoxiControlBokuLookoutAnonymizerPalantir and Trulia, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Xoom, Lookout,TownHog, and TokBox (observer). You can view his full portfolio here. In his spare time, Kevin advises university students on entrepreneurship through Youniversity Ventures. Kevin lives in San Francisco with his wife, Julia, and young daughter.

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