Online ticket resale has generated big VC returns in the U.S., with eBay buying StubHub for $310 million and TicketMaster buying TicketsNow for around $295 million. Now the competition has spread to Europe. The latest example is SeatWave Ltd., which tomorrow will announce that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding.
Fidelity Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Atlas Venture, Mangrove Capital Partners and Adinvest. The company had previously raised $11 million.
SeatWave was founded in 2006 by Joe Cohen, a former senior executive with Ticketmaster and Match.com. It looks like other online ticket resale marketplaces, with opportunities for users to acquire access to music, sporting and theater events. The opportunity, according to Simon Clark of Fidelity Ventures, is one of scale: “Europe has not historically had a well-organized ticker resale market, so SeatWave and some others have decided to go after that opportunity. There is plenty of room for more than one company to operate. SeatWave has only been in operation for a year, but it has shown great growth and typically has more than half a million tickets on sale at any one time.”
SeatWave’s most obvious competitor is Viagogo, a VC-backed company formed by StubHub co-founder Eric Baker. But there also are significant differences between the two. Viagogo has formed exclusive ticket brokering agreements with European sports teams, including soccer clubs like Manchester United. That isn’t a business SeatWave is interested in, instead wanting to focus all of its energies on C-to-C activities (UK). Viagogo also is in the midst of expanding to the U.S., having formed a non-exclusive partnership with The Cleveland Browns. SeatWave plans to move east rather than west, with no plans to go stateside.
“We feel the European market is plenty large, in terms of both sports and live music,” Fidelity’s Clark says. He points to the example of last year’s Rugby World Cup Finals, which were held in Paris. “The finals were expected to be France versus New Zealand, so the local French bought ¾ of the tickets, and New Zealand tourists bought the rest. Then it ended up being England versus South Africa, which meant that the French and New Zealanders sold their tickets to the English and South Africans. SeatWave had so many tickets to exchange, that they rented out space next to the stadium.”