Ticketmaster acquires Rival platform set up by former CEO

16 Apr 2020

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Rival, a digital ticketing platform set up by former Ticketmaster boss Nathan Hubbard, has reportedly been acquired by the company it aimed to compete with.

In 2018, former Ticketmaster boss Nathan Hubbard started a ticketing platform of his own, entitled Rival. As the name might suggest, Rival was set up to compete with Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster, which dominates much of event ticketing industry in the US and other markets.

Now, according to Billboard, Ticketmaster has acquired Rival after receiving approval from the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

The publication reported that Hubbard had raised more than $30m for Rival, but struggled to launch and failed to sell a ticket on the platform.

The DOJ reportedly approved the sale last month, after investigating to ensure that Live Nation was not breaching the consent decree it entered with competition regulators when it acquired Ticketmaster in 2010. Neither Rival or Ticketmaster have commented on a deal.

Rival to Ticketmaster

Hubbard worked as CEO of Ticketmaster from 2007 until 2013, before taking a job as Twitter’s vice-president of global media and commerce. Hubbard held that role until 2016, when he left to set up Rival.

Rival secured $33m in investment from backers including Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, and Silicon Valley figures such as Stripe founders Patrick and John Collison. The start-up also raised investment from teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA and the UK Premier League, as well as other sporting organisations.

On Rival’s website, the start-up said that it had a different approach to ticketing, describing itself as a “technology company, not a traditional ticketing provider”.

“Rival brings a serious technical approach and elegant design to every aspect of our consumer and enterprise platform,” it added. “Our powerful, cutting-edge software helps artists and teams make more money, meet all their fans and keep everyone safer.”

The ticketing start-up said its platform made it “easy for fans to see their favourite teams and artists”, by enabling “transparent and seamless transactions to get tickets into the hands of real fans”.

Billboard reported that as part of the acquisition, Ticketmaster will now acquire Rival’s technology and its team. This does not include Hubbard, who plans to pursue other projects.

Bringing tech into ticketing

Hubbard has discussed using technology to help performers and venues cut down on ticket scalping and learn more about customer behaviour. These are issues in a market where consumers regularly complain about ticket touting, availability and fraud, and ticketing companies are trying to implement new measures to make sure that fans are able to fairly purchase tickets for events.

Ticketmaster, for example, has also been making efforts to improve its platform with technology.

In November 2019, Ticketmaster held its first fully digital-ticketed show in Ireland, where the company showcased its new digital tickets, featuring ‘moving parts’ to prevent fraud. The company said that these tickets also aim to control resale activity, due to their unique fingerprints that can be used to prevent price gouging.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic