The crowd that lifted the CEO of Eventbrite

Attending a Star Trek convention while working on a documentary series showed Julia Hartz the power of live events. The experience became the inspiration for the Eventbrite ticketing company,

that she started with her fiance and another founder. Their goal was to facilitate gatherings for event planners and participants.

Now that model is being tested by a pandemic that continues to block live events around the world as new variants of Covid-19 surface. Eventbrite, which laid off nearly half of its staff in April 2020, survived the early days of Covid-19 by helping organizers transition to virtual gatherings and manage everything from selling tickets to marketing their events . Eventbrite’s revenue increased 144% to $ 53.4 million in the third quarter, compared to the prior year period. The volume of paid tickets increased 107% to 19.1 million paid tickets. Its stock is up about 200% from its April 2020 low.

Organic pieces

  • Age: 42
  • Education: Pepperdine University, Bachelor of Telecommunications
  • Family: Husband Kevin and two daughters
  • First job: Barista coffee at Ugly Mug in Santa Cruz at 14
  • Favourite book: Katharine Graham’s “Personal Story”
  • The hourly alarm goes off on weekdays: 6:15 a.m.
  • Where did you grow up Santa Cruz, California
  • Management mantra: Consider the whole person, not just the employee, when giving feedback and advice.
  • Fun fact: Life’s Unrealized Dream Is To Be A Relief Dancer For Janet Jackson
  • Leisure activities of the WFH since the pandemic: Backgammon, piano and hyper-organization

Ms Hartz, who took over as chief executive in 2016, said the pandemic had turned her into a “wartime CEO” as she handled the crisis while working from home and taking care of two girls. She and her husband had one major rule: if their daughters interrupted a virtual meeting, they had to show up. This spread to Eventbrite, where Ms Hartz stressed that employees should not apologize or be embarrassed for their children or other disturbances at home.

It wasn’t the first test for Ms Hartz, who became CEO a decade after she, tech entrepreneur Kevin Hartz, and software engineer Renaud Visage co-founded Eventbrite. The first CEO was Mr. Hartz, whom she married shortly after Eventbrite launched; he is still president. She went public in 2018, one of the few women to have done so as both the founder and CEO of a tech company. She also sits on the board of directors of the hotel company Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Before Eventbrite, she worked in entertainment. She interned for “Friends” and developed and managed on-air series for MTV and FX, including the show “Nip / Tuck”. A documentary series around fandoms took her to a convention of Klingons, the name given to a fictional species in the long series “Star Trek”. The passion she saw in people meeting in person sparked the idea of ​​using technology to improve events. It became Eventbrite.

“How to take technological technology and use it to democratize something that really improves people’s lives, that connects in real life, because it’s very, very topical today,” she said. declared. “And how do you do it in a way that’s just super easy, self-serve, with a low barrier to entry? “

Here are four of his most trusted advisors:

ORGANIC PIECES

Age: 42

Education: Pepperdine University, license in telecommunications

Family: Husband Kevin and two daughters

First job: cafe barista at Ugly Mug in Santa Cruz at age 14

Favorite Book: “Personal Story” by Katherine Graham

The hourly alarm goes off on weekdays: 6.15 a.m.

Where did you grow up Santa Cruz, California

Management mantra: Consider the whole person, not just the employee, when giving feedback and advice.

Fun fact: Life’s unrealized dream is to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson

Leisure activities of the WFH since the pandemic: Backgammon, piano and hyper-organization

Roelof Botha, Partner, Sequoia Capital

Ms Hartz said Mr Botha is his “most effective critic” because he is ready to give her his honest comments. Much of that came over time: he was Eventbrite’s original venture capitalist, its longest-serving independent board member, and has a long history with the Hartzes.

Ms Hartz said Mr Botha helps her think beyond the short term. “Every time I talk to him he inspires me and pushes me to think well beyond the time limit that I envision,” she said.

For example, as Covid impacted Eventbrite’s business, Ms Hartz said Mr Botha focused on helping raise capital to help the company weather the crisis while preserving the company’s vision.

“He looks at everything through the prism of ‘What impact would this have on the business in 10 to 20 years?’ And he has principles, even when it’s unpopular, ”she said.

Kevin Hartz, Co-Founder and President, Eventbrite

Ms Hartz said she and Mr Hartz often take different approaches, and that’s what strengthens their relationship and business partnership. “He thinks in black and white, he can ingest an incredible amount of data and spit out a response very quickly,” she said. “I’m more of a data point collector that I put together and see as an amalgamation of the situation, and I often look at the technicolor undertone of people.”

This combination helped as Covid led to unpredictable stay-at-home orders in March 2020. When Ms Hartz returned from her last day at the office in mid-March, she discovered that Mr Hartz had set up an office at home as a war room, with monitors and whiteboards.

“We had to make the ultimate decision as to whether we were going to act quickly and reshape the business and seize the opportunity of this great disruption or were we going to see how it played out? ” she said. “We built the business over 14 years, and in 14 days in March, the business had negative revenue.”

It also taught her more about when to identify situations that are critical. “It doesn’t all have to be hair on fire,” she said. “It has a great way to identify critical times when you need to act and you need to act fast.”

This led Eventbrite to quickly raise funds and make changes in the business.

Lorrie Norrington, Operating Partner, Lead Edge Capital

Ms Hartz said she and Ms Norrington hit it off after an introduction from recruiter and advisor Jana Rich in 2014, sharing a Japanese whiskey when they first met. Several months later, Ms Norrington joined Eventbrite’s board of directors, focusing on business strategy and serving as a CEO coach for Ms Hartz.

Ms Hartz said Ms Norrington is “the connector” and often shares useful information about who to hire, which employees have high potential and how employees can learn from an outside voice.

“She put a lot of people on my radar and taught me to see beyond the immediate team that I work with on a daily basis,” she said.

Ms Norrington, who is now a company adviser and sits on several other boards, also encouraged Ms Hartz to think regularly about how to empower women. She taught her to “open up the openness and look for ways to apply micro actions to be an ally of women,” Ms. Hartz said. “And don’t leave that at the end of your career.”

Roger martin

Roger Martin, business author and strategist

Several years ago, Ms. Hartz read one of Mr. Martin’s books, “Playing to Win,” on the recommendation of Dropbox Inc. CEO and friend Drew Houston.

After reading it, Ms Hartz said she wanted the strategy to be as simple as the book described it. As Covid turned the business of Eventbrite upside down, she reached out to Mr. Martin in mid-2020 to refine the company’s strategy so that Eventbrite could seek opportunities during the pandemic and ensure long-term growth.

Mr. Martin taught her that strategy doesn’t have to be an intoxicating, complicated and esoteric thing, Ms. Hartz said. Eventbrite rolled out a new three-year strategic vision for the company in September 2020 using the framework co-created by Mr. Martin.

“It’s actually a series of strategic choices that are logically linked in a sequence that lead to the desired result,” she said. “So I think he has this great way of breaking down big topics into simple, manageable, executable projects.”

Eventbrite then launched new products for creators and boosted its virtual events business. Mr. Martin and Ms. Hartz now meet on a quarterly basis.

Write to Emily Glazer at emily.glazer@wsj.com

Corrections and amplifications
Eventbrite’s paid ticket volume increased 107% to 19.1 million paid tickets. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the volume of paid tickets increased to $ 19.1 million. (Corrected January 8)

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