StubHub

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StubHub
Type Subsidiary, Acquired January 2007
Industry Ticket exchange
Ticket resale
Founded 2000
Founders Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr
Headquarters San Francisco, California, United States
Area served United States / Canada / United Kingdom
Products Tickets for sports, concerts, theater, entertainment events
Parent eBay
Website www.stubhub.com, www.stubhub.co.uk
eBay, PayPal, Kijiji, and StubHub in Toronto

StubHub (often styled StubHub!) is an online marketplace owned by eBay, which provides services for buyers and sellers of tickets for sports, concerts, theater and other live entertainment events. It has grown from the largest secondary-market ticket marketplace in the United States into the world's largest ticket marketplace.[1] While the company does not currently disclose its financials, it is said to process one sports or entertainment ticket every second and in 2012 had approximately 15 million unique visitors per month.[2][3]

The San Francisco-located company was founded in 2000 by Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, both former Stanford Business School students and investment bankers.[4] The most-recent company's president was Chris Tsakalakis (resigned Nov 4, 2014[5]). Other executives include Raji Arasu, Ajay Gopal, Anne Robie, Ray Elias and Brigitte Ricou-Bellan.[6] Founder Eric Baker left StubHub in 2004.[7] StubHub was acquired by eBay in January 2007.

ABC has stated that StubHub has "become the ticket scalper of the digital age, the ultimate middleman to shake up the way people interact to buy and sell tickets to almost any concert, theatre performance or sporting event."[8] StubHub has become a major sponsor in sports and entertainment. As of September 2013, StubHub has more than 120 partners, including Anschutz Entertainment Group, the O2, Staples Center, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, 28 Major League Baseball Clubs, ESPN, more than 35 NCAA premier colleges and universities, a number of NHL, NBA, and MLS teams, as well as some of the top music venues in the United States and United Kingdom. Internationally, StubHub also has partnerships with several Barclay's Premier League teams and has partnered with Crown Talent and Media Group to become the official ticket seller for some of its artists including Jessie J.[9] As of June 2013, it also holds the naming rights to StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Sellers post available tickets at any price they choose. A range of tickets are listed, mainly sporting, concert, theater, and other live entertainment events. Unlike other online ticket resellers, such as Craigslist (free) and eBay (up front price per listing), StubHub takes a commission after the sale takes place. StubHub.co.uk was launched in March 2012, and operates from London.

History[edit]

StubHub was founded in San Francisco in 2000 by Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, both former Stanford Business School students and investment bankers.[10] One of its first major sports deals was with the Seattle Mariners in 2001.[11] It began to show a profit in 2003 after selling $60 million worth of baseball tickets and others.[12] In 2005, the company raised between $10 million and $25 million from Pequot Ventures (now FirstMark Capital).[13] That year they generated over $200 million in sales.[14]

In 2006, Inc. Magazine ranked StubHub as the eighth fastest growing private company in America on its annual "Inc. 500" list.[15] In 2006, more than 100 New York Yankees season-ticket holders suspected of reselling their regular-season seats on StubHub received letters denying them the right to buy playoff tickets and barring them from buying season tickets for the 2007 season.[16][17] In 2006, the New England Patriots sued StubHub to bar it from reselling the team's tickets as fans reportedly showed up at games with phony or voided tickets bought over StubHub. While some were counterfeits, others were voided tickets sold by fans after they had their season-ticket privileges revoked.[18][19] On July 6, 2007, a Suffolk Superior Court judge allowed StubHub to proceed with its lawsuit against the New England Patriots.[20] StubHub accused the Patriots of attempted monopolization, conspiracy to restrain trade, and unfair trade practices. On October 19, 2007, a court upheld an order forcing StubHub to turn over a list of all New England Patriots season ticket holders since 2002 who had used the site. The Patriots stated that they may strip the season ticket holders of their seats.[21] On January 26, 2009, the Massachusetts Superior Court rejected StubHub's argument that it was not liable for its sellers' behavior per 47 USC 230. NPS LLC v. StubHub, Inc., 2009 WL 995483 (Massachusetts Super. Ct. January 26, 2009).

StubHub was acquired by eBay in January 2007 for a reported $310 million.[22][23][24][25] According to CNN Money, 2007 was a very successful year for the company, handling five million individual transactions, more than in the previous six years combined of its history.[1] Staffing at StubHub had increased to 350 workers by the time of the sale.[25] Eight months after the acquisition, StubHub reached an exclusive agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB).[1] They get a piece of the 25% in commissions StubHub earns on either end of a season ticket buy and sell transaction. Ticketmaster filed a lawsuit against StubHub and eBay in 2007, alleging "intentional interference" with Ticketmaster's contractual rights.[23]

In 2008, StubHub announced that music-related sale had seen the biggest growth and that music had become a "priority".[26] By 2008 it had become a $5 billion a year business.[26] It had 2.1 million visitors per month, generating over $100 million in sales annually.[27] In 2009, CEO Chris Tsakalakis announced that transactions on StubHub had climbed 65% from the previous year, and revenue had increased by 40%.[28] However, on April 10, 2009, StubHub reported that the price of second round Masters badges had declined by 43% from $1,073 in 2008 to $612 in 2009.[29]

In July 2011, StubHub launched a new ticketing application, available on Microsoft Windows Phone which makes it easier to buy tickets. It makes use of the phone's design and presents a catalog in which fans can search events based on their preference and location, view and notes upcoming events, and can tag their favorite sports teams and bands which updates them of events throughout the year.[30] StubHub applications for iPhone, BlackBerry 10, and Android also allow users to decide where they want to sit using venue maps and the number of seats, and to plan the event by finding local restaurants, bars, and parking facilities.[31][32] In 2012, StubHub was the first in the industry to integrate with Apple Passbook.[33] CEO Tsakalakis said of the deal, "StubHub has always used innovation to give fans more freedom and convenience to enjoy live events, and we will continue to develop technology and work with those that share this vision.Through our integration with Apple's Passbook, fans will not only be able to use their iPhone or iPod touch to store their tickets, but to enter an event as well."[33] In 2012, StubHub announced that Adele was the best-selling British act of 2011-2, with sales worth $35.18 million for her performances and merchandise alone.[34]

In 2013, StubHub also created an application especially for the South by Southwest events in Texas which gave users the opportunity to find a range of tickets to all of the different shows.[35]

In January 2013, StubHub launched "The Rising Stars program", which they claim is "our way of recognizing outstanding nonprofit organizations that are positively changing the lives of vulnerable youth through arts and recreation." They have begun offering grants of $25,000 - $100,000 for locally based, grassroots organizations to nurture the youth in sporting and artistic development.[36] StubHub has also philanthropically supported major benefit events, such as 121212, the Concert for Sandy Relief, including a $1 million donation to the Robin Hood Relief Fund for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.[37]

In December 2012, it was reported that the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Chicago Cubs had dropped StubHub and declined a new five-year deal, which Major League Baseball Advanced Media had signed.[11][38][39] The Chicago Cubs later opted back into the partnership. In March 2013, the Yankees sued StubHub, claiming that the sale of their tickets violates New York scalping laws.[40] The Yankees claim that StubHub had opened a ticket office within 1,500 feet of Yankee Stadium, but StubHub defended itself, arguing that it wasn’t a ticket sales office but a printing station for tickets purchased online.[41] The New York Post stated that the "Yankees are using the state's anti-scalping law to keep legal ticket reseller StubHub away from the Stadium, but when it comes to traditional illegal scalpers outside their gates, the team is giving them an intentional walk."[42] A spokesman for the Yankees stated that there should be no double standard and that the state's anti-scalping law should be universally enforced.[42] As of 16 April, a settlement was still being reached in Bronx Supreme Court.

EBay has announced that from May 2013 it will retire some of its ticket categories on its UK website and will redirect users to the StubHub website to purchase them.[43] They began the merging process in January 2013 when listings on StubHub also appeared in search results on the eBay UK's tickets category.[43] In April 2013, a new pricing structure was established, and the fee will be displayed upfront without going through an auction.[43] Paul Newman, VP Marketplaces for eBay, said of the decision, "There's no doubt that StubHub offers the best way to buy and sell tickets online. We're committed to offering customers the very best experience and that's why we are confident this is the right move at the right time for ticket buyers and sellers in the UK."[43] In May 2013, cancellation of the Spice Girl's musical Viva Forever! saw a 220% increase in online ticket searches on StubHub UK, as fans rushed to buy tickets for the remaining shows.[44] StubHub is also selling tickets for the much-awaited Rolling Stones gig at Hyde Park in July 2013.[45]

Operations[edit]

StubHub states that its mission is to "provide fans a safe, convenient place to get tickets to the games, concerts, and theater shows they want to see, and an easy way to sell their tickets when they can't go."[46] August E. Grant and Jennifer H. Meadows describe StubHub as a "clearinghouse for ticket sales."[47] It "serves as a middleman between buyers and sellers, deriving revenue from commissions on ticket sales."[48] ABC said of StubHub, "Wall Street has its trading floor. Ticket sales have StubHub. StubHub.com, the San Francisco-based online marketplace, has become the ticket scalper of the digital age, the ultimate middleman to shake up the way people interact to buy and sell tickets to almost any concert, theater performance or sporting event."[8] Local agencies may trade smaller profit margins from selling to a larger volume reseller rather than risk not finding a retail buyer for the same ticket.[1] StubHub is a way for ticket sellers to gain a profit, but unlike eBay, there is no auctioning involved.[49]

Los Angeles Dodgers vs St. Louis Cardinals, seats bought from StubHub.

Many sell their extra tickets on StubHub at a profit, often tickets which are in high demand which are difficult to find.[50][51] While concert tickets can get expensive when the demand is high, more than half of all tickets sold on StubHub go for at or below face value. Tsakalakis has stated that he believes the ticket market is not a level playing field for the average person, in that before a ticket goes on sale, promoters have already sold the vast majority of seats to everyone from fan club members, American Express card holders and ticket brokers.[8] He has said, "There is this whole mentality within concerts that if it doesn't sell out right away it's not a hit. It just doesn't make sense. Nothing works that way. There isn't a supplier out there that says, 'The first day I put my product out there I want all of it to sell out and I don't want to have any more supply.' What business works that way?"[8] Sellers choose what they want to charge for the ticket.[49] A range of tickets are listed, mainly sporting, concert, theater, and other live entertainment events.[52][53] Music categories are divided into Classical and Vocal, Country and Folk, Dance and Electronica, Jazz, Blues and RnB, Rock, Pop and Hip-Hop, and World and New Age music.[54] Theatre and comedy is organized by Cirque du Soleil, Classical music and opera, dance/ballet, family, festivals and fairs, film festival, museum, musicals, play, and other/miscellaneous.[55]

By using the StubHub website, a buyer may select from available tickets to an event. StubHub charges buyers a fee of 10% of the purchase price of the tickets (minimum $5 per transaction). A shipping and handling charge is then imposed (minimum $4.95) and tickets are either shipped via UPS, email delivered, available for instant download, or picked up the day of the event at a last-minute services office. In total, on a typical order, StubHub earns 20-25% of the purchase price of every ticket sold: buyers typically pay 10% more than the listed price and sellers receive 10-15% less than their listed price depending on certain seller metrics and bonuses. Criteria for reduced seller fees include confirm time, fill rate, and quarterly sales totals. Additional seller incentives include the ability to buy tickets without paying service fees.[56] If a buyer fails to win the ticket, StubHub will help the buyer find alternative tickets.[49] StubHub does not prohibit sellers from listing tickets for any amount, regardless of how absurd the amount might be, but posts the prices at which tickets have sold. A September 2012 Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays game had tickets listed for $52,122, nearly 1000 times the face value of the tickets.[57] Ticket prices for the 2009 Super Bowl averaged $2,500.[58] Gift certificates for use on StubHub can be bought on site; the UK site has value options between £15 and £300.[59] To increase delivery rate, StubHub uses Goodmail's CertifiedEmail.[60] It promises to refund the price of any ticket that fails to reach a buyer by FedEx.[61] The company also sends out a bi-weekly newsletter advertising events which the subscriber may be interested in based on past purchases.[60] StubHub and MyStoreRewards have been described as examples of "applications that leverage the PayPal platform in creative ways".[62]

As of September 2013, StubHub has more than 120 partners, including Major League Baseball, more than 35 NCAA colleges and universities, AEG and ESPN.[52] In advertising, the company has created a character known as the "Ticket Oak", a 25-foot tall animatronic talking tree.[63] This tree has appeared at numerous publicity events, posing for pictures and giving away thousands of tickets and prizes to fans. The company faces competition from firms such as Ticketmaster.[27]

Personnel[edit]

As of 2013, notable people working for the firm include:[64]

Anti-scalping legislation[edit]

In the US, 38 states have laws allowing the reselling of event tickets as long as the sale does not take place at the event site. The other 12 states have varying degrees of regulation, including registration requirements and maximum markups.[65] StubHub, Ticketmaster, TicketNetwork, and others have begun to lobby state legislatures to repeal or modify the stricter anti-scalping laws. In Florida, StubHub made over $6,500 in campaign donations to members of the state legislature in support of a 2006 bill to amend Florida's 61-year-old anti-scalping laws. Many consumers, as well as lobbyists for the leisure and entertainment industries were opposed to the bill, and claimed it will drive up prices for consumers while hurting their share of the ticket market.[66] [67] To put these complaints into perspective, customers report paying 300% of standard retail price for events through ticket resellers like StubHub, although it is also possible that customers may purchase tickets at less than standard retail price.[68]

Sports partnerships[edit]

StubHub has become a major sponsor in sports and entertainment.[69] The first to create the secondary ticketing sponsorship category, StubHub has become a major player in sports and entertainment sponsorships and activation. As of June 13, 2013, StubHub will have more than 90 partners, including Anschutz Entertainment Group, the O2, Staples Center, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, 28 Major League Baseball Clubs, more than 35 NCAA premier colleges and universities, NHL teams including the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and Philadelphia 76ers, as well as NBA, and MLS teams. In addition, StubHub has several deals with British Barclay's Premier League teams including Tottenham Hotspur,[70] and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).[71]

Queen's Club, London

StubHub is a major player in college sports, with 35 college sponsorship deals as of April 2013, including the Universities of Texas, Michigan, and USC. Partners also include ESPN,[72] Tickets.com, Paciolan,[73] IMG,[74] and some 30 multi-use venues and festivals including Staples Center and South by Southwest.[75] In April 2013, StubHub signed a three-year agreement with the Lawn Tennis Association which covers the Aegon events at Queens Club, London, Birmingham and Eastbourne.[76] The agreement means that StubHub have become a brand presence on the websites of the tournaments and other forms of their marketing and communications.[76] Also in April 2013, StubHub UK ran a competition in which if Everton F.C. fans bought their season tickets before April 19, they offered the chance to win a VIP experience for the final home game of the 2012/3 season against West Ham United F.C., which included champagne on arrival, a three-course meal, and a tour of the dressing room by Graeme Sharp.[77] In May 2013, StubHub signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Jockey Club Racecourses Ltd (JCR) to trade tickets on three of the racecourses in London, Sandown Park, Epsom Downs and Kempton Park. As a result, StubHub will "have rights to on-site branding and promotional rights, as well as managing an on-site ticket collection point at the Investec Derby Festival."[78] On June 1, 2013, The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, home of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, was renamed Stubhub Center, after Stubhub bought the naming rights.[79]

Fans who wish to buy tickets with a team that has no relationship with StubHub may still do so - all teams, regardless of relationship (or lack thereof) may have their tickets sold there. However, if a team has no formal partnership with StubHub, electronic downloading and printing of e-tickets may not be available - such tickets can be shipped by UPS or picked up at StubHub's last-minute ticket windows. All tickets sold on StubHub are protected by the site's fan guarantee.

StubHub has attracted considerable criticism from sports executives. Tim Leiweke, former CEO of AEG has stated that "many sports executives hate StubHub because the company doesn’t invest in the product on the court" but argues that this is misguided.[80]

Selected list of partners[edit]

As of 2013, StubHub has formal agreements with the following partners:[82]

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